SMART is an acronym used to help motivate, progress and manage the staff involved in business projects and set tasks. We believe that this model was originally introduced in a text called ‘The Practice of Management’ by Drucker, P (1954). SMART does not necessarily have to be used in a project setting (i.e. it can be used as part of a general strategy), but is most often applied to projects or at least set tasks within an organisation. Projects are individual (stand-alone) aspects, operations and processes that have a defined beginning and end, with a strategy to meet specific goals by the end of the project. The SMART acronym appears to be interpreted differently by different people, organisations, academic institutes and textbooks. However, we we usually suggest that SMART stands for the following:
How to Deploy SMART Goals
SMART goals should be infiltrated throughout the project (or throughout each task carried out by the organisation as a whole). Consider using each aspect of this theory as described below:
The specifics need to relate to an individual project or task. Specifics do not cover the whole of a companies operations in most instances, but can cover several tasks simultaneously.
The set objectives must be measurable. This means that a defined figure can be attributed to the goal so that you can clearly see whether the ultimate objectives have been achieved. This may be in terms of unit output in manufacturing, income received from a task, budgets adhered to or machine hours used etc.
SMART objectives focus only on attainable goals and events. Having a ‘reach for the stars’ attitude can be beneficial for overall company culture in some (controlled) instances, but when SMART is used, the goals need to be attainable under normal, usual circumstances when the staff have access to all the resources required.
The objectives must be realistic. This links to the attainable element as described above, but commonly specifically relates to an employee’s/team’s current skill-set and tools available to meet the objectives. Employees should be up-skilled generally as they progress at the company. See Herzberg’s Motivation Theory for further information. However, a SMART objective focuses on the attainable using current skill-sets and not those hat are only attainable following additional training. Additional training, although a good part of overall employee development, introduces many variables such as an unknown amount of additional time needed for training completion and the employee’s ability to successfully undertake additional (often more advanced) training.
The objective needs to have a defined end point i.e. time that completion of the project/task is needed. Without this, a business may face additional costs from resulting delays to other operations and less available staff to utilize in future tasks.
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