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Tips For Setting Effective SMART Goals

8 min read
Last Updated on 05 April, 2021
Tips For Setting Effective SMART Goals

A goal properly set is halfway reached. ~ Zig Ziglar

Team goal setting is fundamental in any organization. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your team’s work direction; but also provides you with a benchmark to determine whether the business objectives are being met.

Your teams need goals to be productive. A specific goal-setting criterion leads to a faster performance improvement than the general outlines, which are vague with no sense of direction.

Over time, several strategies of effective goal setting have been established. Out of all, the SMART GOALS framework brings the best trackability and results into your goals and objectives.

What are SMART Goals?

A SMART goal can be defined as a carefully designed target, that enables managers and employees to develop, track and achieve short and long-term objectives. The word SMART here is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.


Specific- Particular and precisely defined.
Measurable- Identifiable success metrics.
Achievable- Realistic to attain, given the time and resources.
Relevant- Keeping the team goals aligned with the overall objective.
Timely- Time based efforts for well-received goals.

The November 1981 issue of ”Management Review” contained a paper by George T. Doran called ”There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives”.

Here Are Some Tips For Setting SMART Goals



SMART goals are well-defined and particular. The moment you make your goal specific, it provides you the clarity and focuses required to get the most out of your efforts.

As a manager, decide what your team should hope to achieve weeks from now. Then write down one specific goal following this goal-setting formula:

"I will (goal + performance measure) By (specific actions)."

For example, in the case of sales team performance management, it will be like:

“We will increase our sales by 10% in 3 months by running extra promotions.”

To be specific, ask the Five W’s: who, what, why, where and which. For example-

  • Who will play a part in achieving this goal?
  • What tools and techniques do they need to do this?
  • Why is the goal significant?
  • Where will the job be?
  • Which resources are required to do that?

Before setting your team goal, look at your data set for relevant insights. Writing down a vision statement will help your team implement the strategies for growth. Make your statement as specific as you can by defining precisely what you hope to achieve.



This tells you to break down the team efforts into specific sub-goals, making them measurable and practical to accomplish the overall SMART goal.

A measurable goal helps to know how you are doing and how much progress you have made. Thus, it provides a tangible means to evaluate success.

It can be recorded routinely and analyzed in order to know if the team efforts are being effective.

Measurement of goals can be sometimes difficult. Managers, supervisors , and employees may have to work together to find the most appropriate and feasible sources of data and methods of analysis.

Here's what can help you in measuring progress of SMART goals:

**1. Establish Metrics **

Metrics prove to be a great medium of performance management. Without predetermined metrics, as a manager, you cannot determine whether your team is performing up to the mark or not.

Let’s take an example.

If you say, ‘’Get more responses from cold emails.”, it is difficult to understand the achievable. But “Get 50% more conversion rate from cold emails.’’ can help your team members clearly understand your expectations. Here, ‘conversion rate’ acts as the metric which inspires your team to work in relation to the set SMART goal.

2. Sit with your team

It’s very difficult to motivate people to do something unless they want to do it.- Eden Chen of Fishermen Labs

Meetings with the team can be an open opportunity to come together, reflect on progress and help each other. It can be in the form of:

Weekly status update meets: The primary objective here is to get updates on the progress, challenges, and the next steps towards the final goal.

Monthly OKRs (Objectives and Key Results): It itself plays a significant role in shaping today’s OKRs. With monthly OKR meets, you can track the progress and boost team morale.

Under each objective, there should be 3-5 measurable Key Results. Each Key Result can be measured on a score of 0-100% or 0 to 1.0. Based on the OKR status, you can adjust the work course if needed to suit the long term goal.

Problem-solving meets: In order to ensure a smooth approach towards your goal, occasional meetings are important in order to identify priorities, opportunities, and threats. In the same sitting, possible solutions should be brainstormed, evaluated, and agreed upon by all the team members.

3. Meet one on one with team members

Know how the individual team member is feeling about his or her role. There can be matters that they don’t want to bring up in the team meetings. Not addressing individual issues can negatively impact team performance.

While the truth is they were hired to fulfil a specific function within your company, chances are they have their own growth goals that you can help them achieve. Take a few minutes to have a conversation with your team members individually, and get a sense of what their priorities are.



Before setting goals for your team, make sure that it is achievable- by reference to the abilities of your team members.

There might be a combination of things weighing on the minds of your team members urging them to quit midway. Therefore before setting a goal, make sure that it is realistic- something that is possible to achieve. This would save your team from getting demotivated.

Make a list of all the skills, knowledge and information they will need to obtain, in order to achieve that goal. Almost all goals will require that your team members improve their abilities in some way. Help them to be active and focused on the vision.

However, resist your urge to set goals that are too easy for your team. This can bring fear while accomplishing the complicated goals in the future. As a manager, you should learn to hit the right balance that your team needs.



Your team goals should be relevant to the overriding objectives of the organization. Let’s understand this with the help of an example:

Suppose you have a website that sells employee engagement products. It also contains a blog space for articles written by your team members. A goal of writing 10-15 blogs in a week would be completely irrelevant if it doesn't lead to more sales of the products.

In simple words, SMART goals should provide value and be aligned with the company’s overall strategies.



This step is especially important because it supports all the others. Make your goal timely by defining an opening and closing date for your goal. A goal with no start and no end cannot be specific or measurable, and there is a strong chance it won’t be attainable.

So, what does a timely goal mean? It means that your goal will be achieved within a suitable and realistic time, avoiding any premature conclusion. Every goal must have a deadline so that you can be certain about when it can be achieved.

Each time your team members reach a sub-goal, make sure they push themselves a little harder. This will ensure a better movement towards their long term SMART goal.


They say, “Children cry for it; grown men die for it. It's nothing but recognition.

Many team managers have taken this goal-setting process to another level, by adding an ‘ER’ to SMART, making it a SMARTER Goal.

Here, E stands for Evaluation of your achievement on a regular basis and
R stands for Recognition (or Reward) when a particular goal is achieved (or Revisited when not.)

To motivate workers, always offer positive recognition for an achievement that boosts a person's self-esteem, improves their self-image and encourages them to do much more and better in the future.

Here Are Few SMART Goals Examples

1. To be used by Editorial Team

Specific: I want to increase the blog traffic by 10% during the next three months.

Measurable: We will re-optimize the 10 best blogs to make it better and aim for at least 15 high-quality backlinks to them.

Achievable: Getting backlinks may take time. After re-optimizing the 10 blogs in 15 days, at least 100 websites should be approached for backlinking in order to achieve the goal.

Relevant: Blog traffic will let potential customers know about our customers. This plan is the best way to increase product sales.

Timely: We have three months to achieve the goal which will help the business growth in the next financial quarter.

2. To be used by Customer Help Desk

Specific: We have to deliver customer support with an 80%+ Satisfied/Very Satisfied customer satisfaction rate by the end of March.

Measurable: After every one month, we will measure objectively, whether or not we can achieve the target.

Achievable: With an improvement in the customer experience, it is achievable.

Relevant: As long as customers stay satisfied, they will prefer buying our goods. Thus, it will help in promoting customer retention in the long run.

Timely: We set a period of four months time frame to attain this goal.

3. To be used by HR Management team

Specific: In order to meet the increasing demands of our services, we set the goal of increasing our employees’ headcount from 1500-1900 in 1 year.

Measurable: Fast forward 6 months, we aim to take in at least 250 people.

Achievable: Just like the previous years, we can receive thousands of applications, by using a systematic process for employee recruitment. Only the right candidate pool can contribute to the needs of the organization. Here, the selection is the real challenge.

Relevant: It goes with our goal of overall increased revenue for the year, which demands at least 50% more return per employee.

Timely: We will accomplish this in one year of duration.

Having SMART social media goals will allow you to get the most out of social media accounts that are geared towards your business.


All the steps might not happen in order all the time, and that’s all right. Each step should make sense to your team performance. Choose the steps in an order that fits in your picture.

Setting SMART goals can be a little challenging fro organizations. But, dedication and a well thought out strategy can certainly help.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please recommend and share it to help others to apply it.

This article is written by Susmita Sarma, a digital marketer at Vantage Circle. She was involved with media relations before shifting her interest in research and creative writing. Apart from being a classical music buff, she keeps a keen interest in anchoring and cooking. For any related queries, contact