Leaders and managers need to have solid goals for themselves and also for helping others hit their own individual goals to improve employee performance. A SMART goal is a powerful tool that enables you to track your progress on a regular basis towards achieving your key performance indicators.
Let’s explore the SMART goal-setting method and how leaders and managers can set goals of their own by exploring examples of SMART goals.
What is a “SMART” goal?
The first step of a SMART goal (and the first letter in the SMART acronym) is specific. A specific goal lays out clear expectations and/or steps to reach that objective. It does not lead to a vague goal or the potential for misinterpretation.
Good example: To reach a 20% staffing increase for the next budget year by onboarding four new call center representatives each month.
Bad example: To grow the staff.
The next element of a SMART goal is that it has a measurable objective. Without measurable markers to aim toward, the goal will not have a clear direction, and it will not be obvious that the desired end result has been achieved.
Good example: To increase the average customer satisfaction score on repeat visits by 15%.
Bad example: To deliver better customer service.
Additionally, the goal must be attainable or achievable. It’s good to dream big and push boundaries, but there is such a thing as reaching too far – setting a goal that is too outlandish only sets you up for failure.
Good example: To grow sales 5% each year for the next five years.
Bad example: To grow sales 100% each year for the next 20 years.
The action plan you develop in your SMART objective must be a relevant goal for the ends you are trying to achieve. Setting unrelated directives can create confusion among employees and senior managers and create a sense that the ultimate goal will never be reached. It also needs to be a realistic goal to avoid negatively impacting employee morale and so that the goal is within employees’ control.
Good example: To become compliant with electronic filing requirements by the end of the year through conversion of all paper files to the new system.
Bad example: To grow triple sales by updating the customer filing system within one week.
The final SMART criteria for a goal is that it must be bound to a particular timeline or that it can be easily tracked over a given period of time. The sense of progression from beginning to end is clear here: without a deadline, work toward a goal can continue forever without actually reaching it.
Good example: To increase my job performance ranking 20 points – from Good to Excellent – by the end of this year.
Bad example: To do better at my job.
Examples of Leadership SMART Goals Examples for Managers and Employees
#1 Example: Performance Reviews
I will complete all performance reviews for my department in the six-week timeline allotted by Corporate by conducting eight interview sessions per week and setting aside two additional hours each week to process the required paperwork.
S: The goal is to complete staff performance reviews.
M: The goal is eight interview sessions per week, plus two hours per week on paperwork.
A: Eight one-on-one interviews per week is doable on a regular business schedule.
R: Conducting the interviews will lead to completing the goal.
T: Depending on the overall size of the department, eight interviews per week would allow for 48 total interviews, which should provide the ability to meet the goal by the six-week deadline.
#2 Example: Improving Service Response Time
I will work with my team to decrease the average response time on a service call by 20% over the next six months by holding a weekly team meeting to align everyone to the upcoming service calls.
S: The goal is to decrease service call response time.
M: The desired metric is a 20% decrease over a six-month term.
A: Twenty percent may seem aggressive, but it is doable.
R: The weekly team meetings will help everyone process the service calls more quickly.
T: Six months is the deadline to decrease the average response time.
#3 Example: Staff Meetings Per Quarter
I will decrease the number of staff meetings by the end of the quarter in an attempt to eliminate redundancies. Instead of three weekly whole-team meetings, we will only hold one, and sub-teams will only be required to meet twice per month instead of weekly.
S: The goal is to eliminate redundancies by decreasing the number of staff meetings.
M: Two staff meetings will be eliminated each week, and the frequency of team meetings will be cut in half.
A: These adjustments are easy to make, especially since a time commitment is being removed.
R: These steps should lead to reduced redundancy.
T: The timeframe of one quarter should let the manager know if the strategy was an effective way to reach the goal.
#4 Example: Improve Employee Relations
I will get to know my direct reports better by holding one-on-one rounding meetings with each of my 30 staff members over the course of the next month.
S: The goal is to get to know employees better.
M: The one-on-one rounding over the course of the month is the measurable goal.
A: The manager can handle at least one rounding meeting per day.
R: Rounding is a great way to get to know employees.
T: One month is the defined time frame.
#5 Example: Maintain Industry Rating
We will maintain our A+ quality rating into the next year by increasing the frequency of store cleanings and food stock checks to align with industry best practices – from every two hours to every 90 minutes.
S: The overall goal is to maintain an A+ industry rating.
M: The measurable actions are to increase the frequency of store cleanings and stock checks.
A: The increase in cleanliness checks is doable for the staff.
R: A mild increase in the cleanliness checks will serve to keep things up to the current standard, if not increase them.
T: The end goal is to keep the rating by next year.
#6 Example: Maintain Accreditation Level
We will successfully achieve a continued accreditation upon the review team’s visit next year by assigning a four-person team to thoroughly review the requirements and report on recommendations every three months.
S: The business objective is to maintain the academic accreditation level.
M: The quarterly recommendation reports are the measurable work product to be released.
A: A four-person team can do these reports with their current workload.
R: The recommendation reports should keep everyone on track to maintain the accreditation.
T: The review team visiting next year is the “deadline.”
#7 Example: Sales Goal
We will increase our department’s sales by 15% next year through a weekly online promotion, a monthly in-house giveaway, and a new quarterly incentive program for all staff to monitor their personal goals for sales.
S: The goal is to increase sales by 15%.
M: The measurable actions are the weekly promotions, monthly giveaways, and quarterly incentives.
A: These actions are achievable by the team.
R: These incentive programs should lead to increased sales.
T: The intent is to reach this goal by next year.
#8 Example: New Signups for Email Updates
We will increase our total email audience by 5% year over year by running A/B testing on all email signup requests to our mailing lists, then review each message’s impact in a monthly content review session.
S: The goal is to increase signups to the email list.
M: Running the A/B content tests on emails is the measurable action, as well as the content review sessions.
A: One more monthly meeting is not too much to ask for the team.
R: Testing and using relevant content should lead to increased subscriptions.
T: The annual review process gives a clear cycle to compare against.
#9 Example: Enter New Products into R&D
We will successfully launch a new flagship product in two years’ time by sending four new products to the Development team over the course of this year.
S: The goal is to launch a new flagship product.
M: Adding four products to development is the measurable step.
A: Four new products in a year is probably doable.
R: It is reasonable to assume that, out of four products, one will lead to a launch.
T: The R&D goal is the first timeline, then the main launch is the second.
#10 Example: Employee Retention Efforts
We will increase our department’s employee retention score by 15% through the launch of our new benefits and leave program, which involves weekly seminars over the course of two months to inform all team members on the new program.
S: The goal is to improve internal employee retention scores.
M: The weekly seminars are the measurable step, as well as the 15% metric.
A: Employees are only asked to attend one seminar, and the two-month timeframe for these seminars is manageable for the presentation team.
R: Employee goals for retention should increase once they get better transparency on the benefit programs.
T: Two months is the time frame for this initiative.
#11 Example: Full Inventory Review
I will manage an ongoing inventory review this year by assigning a warehouse associate to conduct a full inventory on 500 products every three months.
S: The goal is to conduct regular inventory.
M: Inventory on 500 products every three months is the metric to measure against.
A: Three months to inventory 500 products is an achievable goal.
R: These steps will achieve the goal.
T: A three-month review period is a revolving timetable.
#12 Example: New Employee Onboarding
I will standardize our new employee onboarding program by working with the HR department over the next two months to create a ten-session curriculum that covers all major aspects of information a new employee would need to know.
S: The goal is to standardize employee onboarding.
M: A ten-session curriculum is the main deliverable.
A: This curriculum can be created in the allotted time of two months.
R: This goal can be achieved through the outlined steps.
T: Two months is the desired timeline.
#13 Example: Health and Safety Updates
I will institute a weekly health and safety update to ensure that all employees are informed about new trends in public health, as well as updates to corporate policies regarding safety equipment and procedures.
S: The goal is to introduce weekly health and safety updates.
M: Weekly meetings are the measurable step.
A: These weekly meetings are important, and so will not be an undue burden.
R: The topics covered by these meetings are a realistic goal for informing the staff better.
T: The weekly team meeting is the time-bound key result that can be checked off.
#14 Example: Quality Improvement
We will improve our department’s quality assurance scores by 25% over the next four months by adding a final check to our review process, which will involve one rotating staff member giving final approval after each batch is released daily.
S: The goal is to improve quality assurance scores by 25%.
M: The rotating staff member’s assignment for final checks is the measurable action.
A: One rotating team member each day will not create too much additional work for any one individual, and will also act as a good individual goal for those employees as well.
R: The new assignment should lead to improved quality scores.
T: The deadline is four months.
#15 Example: Staff Training on New Software
I will ensure that all staff is properly trained on the new software program by hosting monthly training seminars over the next five months to allow for maximum participation.
S: The goal is to train staff on the new software program.
M: Monthly training seminars are the measurable step.
A: Asking staff to attend one seminar over a five-month period is easily doable.
R: These seminars should be good training opportunities.
T: Five months is the deadline for this initiative.
#16 Example: Complete Leadership Certificate Program
I will complete our company’s 18-course leadership program this year by attending two training sessions per month.
S: The goal is to complete the company’s leadership program.
M: Two sessions per month is the measurable goal.
A: Two sessions per month is doable for a regular schedule.
R: Completing these courses will lead to certification.
T: A year-long cycle is the timeframe.
#17 Example: Improve Presentation Skills
I would like to become a more effective presenter, specifically by decreasing my total presentation time to make meetings timelier. To do this, I will spend 30 minutes each weekend rehearsing for my upcoming staff meetings and attending one Toastmasters session each month to improve my presentation skills.
S: The goal is to present more effectively.
M: Rehearsals and Toastmasters sessions are the measurable steps toward the goal.
A: An extra half hour each week, plus one more meeting each month, is not too much to ask.
R: These steps should lead to better presentation skills.
T: These long-term goals can be shifted each month depending on the need.
#18 Example: Grow Professional Network Through Industry Involvement
I will become more involved in my local business community by attending two Chamber of Commerce networking sessions each month, and by attending my industry conference each year.
S: The goal is to become more involved in the business community.
M: Monthly networking sessions and the annual industry conference are the steps to take.
A: These commitments are not too much to ask for someone who wants to make an impact.
R: Taking these steps should lead to effective networking.
T: The monthly and annual cycles for these actions can be easily tracked.
#19 Example: Make Staff Meetings More Relevant
I will decrease our weekly staff meeting time from 45 minutes to 30 minutes to ensure that we are covering the most relevant content, and being respectful of everyone’s time. I will also check in with my team in two months to see if this shift was helpful.
S: The goal is to tighten the time on staff meetings to make them more relevant.
M: Reducing time by 15 minutes is the action step, plus the review in two months’ time.
A: This change will make everyone’s schedules a little easier.
R: These steps will help to keep everyone on task better.
T: A two-month testing period is a good way to make this change.
#20 Example: Open New Retail Locations
I will open three new retail locations across our region over the next three years by soliciting six location review reports this year, then working with our construction team to organize all necessary contracts during the second year.
S: The goal is to open three new retail locations.
M: Six review reports and the organization of contracts for the selected sites are the action steps.
A: This is likely doable in the longer timespan.
R: The review reports will show the best way to find sites for the new locations.
T: Three years is a good extended timeframe for this process.
#21 Example: Be More Responsive to Emails
I will spend an additional hour at the end of each week to review my email inbox and take the time to respond to team emails and customer complaints.
S: The goal is to be more responsive to emails.
M: A weekly review of the email inbox is the specific action step to take.
A: One hour a week can easily be added to the schedule.
R: This extra time should help in being more responsive to staff and customers.
T: This is a regular and reoccurring action step.
#22 Example: Start Mentorship Program with Senior Leader
I will enter our company’s leader mentoring program as I seek a promotion to senior management. I will participate in twice-monthly sessions with my mentor and secure their sponsorship to attend our company leadership retreat.
S: The goal is the start the mentorship program.
M: Regular sessions and attending the conference are the measurable steps.
A: Twice-monthly sessions are definitely doable, and the conference is also easy to add to their schedule.
R: These steps would complete the mentoring program, which should help the application to senior management.
T: This mentorship program doesn’t have a strict deadline, but the progress checks toward the application window can be the unofficial target.
#23 Example: Job and Role Definition for Corporate Reporting
I will create a full roster of job descriptions for our department by the end of the month through brief 20-minute interviews with all team members to understand their responsibilities, then submit my recommendations to the hiring team.
S: The goal is to draft the department’s job descriptions.
M: Interviews and written recommendations are the steps and metrics for success.
A: Twenty-minute interviews are definitely doable with each staff member.
R: These steps will help the manager gain a clearer understanding of the duties involved for each position.
T: The one-month timeframe is clearly defined.
#24 Example: Identify Necessary Staff for Corporate Restructure
As our department downsizes, I will complete the required ten-page report on essential team functions and provide my recommendations on staff retention by the end of this week.
S: The goal is to provide a staffing report for the downsizing committee.
M: The ten-page report is the main deliverable.
A: This is a tight timeline, but the report is doable given the urgency of the project.
R: This report should outline the duties and responsibilities of each team member and make clear the recommendations on who should keep their positions.
T: The end-of-the-week target is a clear time-bound goal.
#25 Example: Grow Industry Footprint Through Trade Show Participation
We will grow our visibility in the southeast region for our new product line by sending our sales team in pairs to ten different conferences throughout the next year.
S: The goal is to become more visible in the region.
M: Sending pairs of salespeople to ten conferences is the measurable metric for action.
A: Ten conferences over the course of a year are easy to incorporate into the calendar.
R: Attending these conferences and trade shows should increase visibility for the company.
T: The year is the timeline.
Having SMART goals provides any leader or manager the tools to reach the right goals in the right ways at the right times. With a defined endgame, clear steps to achieve it, and a target date to measure against, any goal can be met successfully, which will lead to the key results that will help you meet your business objectives and professional development goals.
Using SMART goals for employees will have a positive impact on company culture, job satisfaction, and the work environment, while simplifying and clarifying the performance review process for the entire team. So use the SMART goal examples in this post to help you set SMART goals for yourself and your employees, and get ready to see the direct impact on your career.
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