Helping Your Employees Set SMART Goals

Business writers never get tired of cute phrases, abbreviations, and pneumonic devices.

From the “KISS” rule to B2B paradigm shifts to The Peter Principle to “pivoting to video,” generations of careers have been made coining and popularizing buzzword-y ways to describe management and recruiting trends. While these often exist as eye roll-inducing advertising for corporate workshops, a few also contain some useful advice.

Which brings us to SMART goals.

The initials stand for “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.” Of course, the letters could have just as easily spelled “MARTS” or “T-RAMS.” But then the business writers wouldn’t have been doing their buzzword-y jobs.

Honestly, though, there’s something fittingly intelligent about the components of the SMART model. Taken together, they describe the kind of goals worth achieving. At the same time, they provide an outline of how to craft a target well-positioned to garner meaningful results.

Helping your employees choose meaningful goals can drive overall growth, both for the company and for them individually. Here’s how the components work:


Vague goals are more wishes than objectives. You want to be happy. You want to have money for retirement. You want to live a good life. All fine as mission statements, but difficult to craft an action plan around, because they represent such fuzzy concepts.

The more specific a goal, the easier to figure out how to achieve it. Success involves contemplating a detailed action plan and putting it into effect. Making the goal specific forms the first step.


It’s easier to work toward a goal when you can quantify that your progress. It also makes it easier to know if, in fact, you have achieved the goal at all.

An objective like “improve sales” represents an essentially meaningless goal. It includes an infinite number of outcomes … pretty much everything that isn’t a sales decline. But something like “improve sales 15%” makes tracking and evaluation more precise.


Looking out over the horizon is a great way to appreciate the ocean or take advantage of a mountain hike. It’s not very effective when it comes to goal achievement.

Make sure your employees are setting targets they can reach. You want them to challenge themselves, but unachievable objectives just lead to disappointment and discouragement.


Success isn’t just about achieving the goals you set. It’s also about setting the right goals in the first place. The wrong goal is like following your mapping app into a cul-de-sac. You’re still driving around, but you aren’t getting anywhere.

Relevant goals play into a larger mission. The personal goals your employees set should dovetail together to mean a greater success for everyone.


Open-ended goals beg for procrastination. They come in the form, “I’ll get that done … someday.” That “someday” keeps hovering just over the horizon, like a desert mirage, getting further away even as you try to walk towards it.

Best to eliminate the “someday” altogether. Replace it with a specific time limit. Not just, “improve sales by 15%,” but “improve sales by 15% before the end of Q2.”

These time constraints allow your employees to measure their progress and build a meaningful work schedule. It also allows you to review how they are doing in moving towards the goal.

Good employees set smart goals (and SMART goals). Then, they go out and achieve them. Finding these top performers becomes easier when you have a strong recruiting partner, like SmartTalent. Our friendly and professional staffing specialists can bring you the workers you need to reach even your loftiest goals.

Contact SmartTalent today to learn more.

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