What People Don’t Understand About SMART Goals

Shelley SmithBlog, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Predictive Index

Why company's don't understand SMART Goals


The dreaded SMART goals. The first quarter is over. How did you finish with your goals? How does second quarter look? Have you looked at what you wrote at the end of last year? Do you know where your pains and gains were for the first quarter? If you have direct reports, how are they doing on their goals?

SMART goals. I think probably everyone regardless of age has at least heard the terminology.  The reality is people get overwhelmed by it.  The problem is it doesn’t get at the solution. Or even worse is never taken into the implementation phase. It is just an annual task of goal writing so you or your manager can fill in the blank on an annual review or incentive plan.

It’s meant to be a strategic planning session not to just check it off at the end of the year or the beginning of the year. At it is finest you should look monthly but a minimum of quarterly.  A look at the quarter you just finished for pains and gains as well as the look ahead and how you may need to pivot.

Most do it annually, so the problem is people do not know how to do it and it does not get at what it is you’re trying to do and that’s to actually move you into action that yields results. That is why you do SMART goals, right? To motivate you and yield results. Again, the problem is most do not do that.

SMART goals should not be daunting. SMART goals should be clear on why am I trying to do it and how you break the, down. If you do not break each of them down, that is what ends up stopping you. It falls off, meaning you do not accomplish what wrote down.

Follow up is a key component as well. You must schedule and plan out meetings with all parties included in your goal setting to check progress, allow time for necessary pivots and changes in tasks to accomplish the goal(s). This can be done weekly, monthly or quarterly but don’t spread them out too long between milestones. Bottom line accountability to yourself and others is a must with your goal setting.

If you’re sick and tired of getting frustrated about your SMART goals, and your annual reviews, and your strategic planning and it doesn’t go anywhere, it’s the same conversation every single year, we should probably talk.