How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
SMART is an acronym that can be used to help ensure that effective objectives or goals are set.
Specific objectives are clear and well-defined. This helps both the performer and the manager, as the performer knows what is expected of them and the manager is able to monitor and assess actual performance against the specific objectives.
Specific objectives may well include a scope description, which includes details of what is not included.
Progress towards objectives often need to be to be monitored whilst work is under way. It is also very useful to know when that work has been done and the objectives are completed. A measurable objective achieves this end.
When giving objectives, the person may not be able to achieve it for various reasons, including a lack of skill, not having enough resources (computers, tools, etc.), not having access to key people and not having management support. Achievable objectives ensure that everything is in place and that if the person does not reach the goals they cannot reasonably point the finger elsewhere.
Objectives should also add useful value within the context where they are being set, being aligned with strategies and higher goals.
Descriptions of objectives should also include timescales of what is required by when. This may also include details of delivery, stating (if relevant) where objectives are to be completed.
Giving a time scale adds appropriate sense of urgency and ensures that the objectives do not dribble out over an unreasonably long timescale.
SMART is a common acronym that is widely used, although the meaning of the letters used sometimes varies. Thus 'A' sometimes appears as Appropriate, 'R' Realistic, etc.
These criteria may be used both to set and assess objectives, acting as a checklist to assure quality. Other criteria may also be used, including: Clear, Challenging, Customer-focused, etc.