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Goals are useful tools for channeling behavior and helping to target objectives that businesses' are interested in, however to be effective - goals need to be clearly stated and well defined.  

When explained properly and tracked appropriately, goals help to increase motivation and performance and help to define job expectations.  SMART goals are excellent tools for building an effective Performance Appraisal System and for defining measurements for your employees.

Clearly stated - difficult goals - have a much greater impact than simply and easy goals that are not well explained and some of the best goals are SMART.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART goals are:
  • Specific

  • Measureable

  • Actionable/Achievable

  • Realistic

  • Time Based
Goals defined using the SMART mindset allow employees to have a better idea of what they are being measured on and what the expectations of management are for them in terms of performance.  Employees are better able to align their work to their rewards which increases motivation.

Now many organizations define these goals from a top down perspective but it is actually a better idea to involve the employee in the process.  This improves employee buy-in and and also ensures that the goals are actually realistic to the work being performed.  This is called MBO (Management By Objective) and is both a strategy and a tactic to help drive performance.  MBO needs to remain flexible, because the MBO process will require adjustment over time.

When goals are SMART and the rewards for successful achievement specified there is generally a higher level of commitment and acceptance with a correspondingly higher success rate.

Goal Feedback

One of the worst things that managers can do is not communicate with their staff and a critical area of communication is their goals.  Managers should have regular (weekly/bi-weekly/monthly) meetings with all of their direct reports and a discussion about goals should occur at least once a quarter. Measuring someone on their performance only at through a performance appraisal is criminal and completely unfair as if you only discuss goals annually there is no opportunity to improve.

To ensure that goals are on-track, it is good to provide feedback to the employee.  Companies should ensure that they incorporate feedback into all of their processes and well timed formal and informal feedback on goals helps both parties determine their progress.

Theory Y principles discuss empowering the employee and one key way is through this MBO feedback.  Completed rigorously and often it allows employees to grow and exceed their goals while ensuring that company objectives are met and surpassed.

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