Monday, August 19, 2013

Learning to Write SMART Goals

Whether you are considering your own personal or professional goals or are developing goals for an employee you supervisor, for your team or organization the SMART acronym is an excellent tool. SMART stands for:
     Specific
     Measurable
     Achievable
     Realistic
     Time defined

Let’s use a professional development example for someone in a supervisory position:
Goal: “To improve my skill as a supervisor.” Something is missing, let’s make it measurable too.
Goal: “To improve my skill as a supervisor by reading two books on effective supervision and attending three short courses (workshops) and one university or college course.” Is this an achievable and realistic goal? It may be depending on the resources available to pay for the courses and time allowed for completion. Let’s try it again.
Goal: “To improve my skill as a supervisor by reading two books (purchased at my own expense) on effective supervision and successfully completing 2 short courses (workshops) or one university or college course (sponsored by my employer)” Now, that’s a bit more realistic. Now, how about a timeline to wrap up our SMART goal?
Goal: “To improve my skill as a supervisor:
  • By reading two books (purchased at my own expense) on effective supervision by March 30, 2014; and
  • successfully completing 2 short courses (workshops) or one university or college course (sponsored by my employer)” by September 30, 2014.”
Note that reformatting the goal makes it more readable and also will help with monitoring completion in the months ahead.

Remember that SMART goals are not written in stone, just on paper! You may negotiate changes to any aspect of the goal with your team or employer as the year progresses. Complex or multi-step goals may have longer timelines and may also require sub-goals (objectives) and action plans (who, will do what, by when). This is especially true when accomplishing the goal involves several people.

Paula J. MacLean is the best-selling author of five books focused on human resource management and working with nonprofit boards of directors. For more information, visit www.silvercreekpress.ca.

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