Set SMART Goals for Your Team in 2021

December 4th, 2020

The year ahead can be anything we want it to be, and if we set goals, plan well, and aim high, there’s a strong chance we can achieve almost anything we set our minds to. This applies to personal goals, and it also applies to the goals we set for our teams and employees.

So how can we aim for and achieve success, even when the future is unknowable? Start with SMART. When goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, they’re more likely to be met by the end of the year.

Here are a few ways to set SMART goals and make them happen.

Sit with each employee individually and establish a meeting with your entire team.

“Specific” goals can be defined as clear goals that are agreed upon by the relevant parties and written down. In order to achieve agreement and written terms, you’ll need to have clear conversations. Get buy-in from the employee by making sure she understands exactly what the goal—as written—means, and exactly what’s expected of her by December 2021. Don’t use abstractions, like: “Aim higher and do better”. Instead, focus on specific changes like: “Reduce error rates in quarterly reports”.

Measurable means measurable for both parties.

You may have some subjective feelings about your employee’s performance, and you may measure his success using your own terms. If he seems sloppy or lazy to you, that’s fine—You’re the boss after all. But tidiness and energy can’t be measured, and even if they could, you and your employee might measure them with different yardsticks. Choose goals that both of you will measure using standard and identical metrics.

Achievable doesn’t mean settling; it means being realistic.

We’re always taught to reach for the stars and shoot for the moon, but if you actually want to hit your target, you need to choose something else—not the actual moon. Choose a goal that makes sense, connotes a victory, and counts as achievement and forward progress. Don’t count on the interference of unlikely events, or the appearance of capabilities and options that don’t presently exist.

Relevance always matters.

You may wish your employee would smile more while she does her work. But is this relevant to her task completion or the revenues she generates for the company? It is not. Examine your motivations to determine why this matters to you, and in the meantime, keep this metric out of your formal goal-setting process.

Timelines help move things forward.

Every goal, subgoal, and sub-sub goal should come with a clear and reasonable deadline. Every time a deadline is missed, examine the reasons why it happened, try to remove those obstacles, and reset the timeline.

For more on how to put your team on track to success and keep them in motion until the end of the year, turn to the management experts at PSU.

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