Skip to content

How S.M.A.R.T. Are You?

Rock with googly eyes, glasses, and "Einstein" written on the side of it.
(CC) “Smart Rock” (unchanged) by flattop341 via flickr —

I’ve grown very tired of hearing about S.M.A.R.T. goals over the years because, even though there are some changes to the acronym over time, the result is very often the same: meaningless, circular performance targets that confuse everyone.  Why?  People focus on developing goals within the template, totally missing the point of having goals to begin with.  Organizations strive to have something reportable – usually something “green” that looks both important and constantly successful – without any chance of failure or actually changing (i.e. improving).

Here’s how it usually happens*:

Specific: Find some minuscule datum of questionable utility that is easy to quantify, and focus on it like a laser.

Measurable: Eliminate anything that we don’t already keep data on, no matter how disconnected from our performance objective.

Achievable: We can already do it with the time, resources, and processes currently in our possession.

Realistic: Much like “achievable” but without the remaining hints of ambition.

Time-related: Fits into some predefined reporting period that will make the goal very convenient as a reportable metric.

S.M.A.R.T. goals aren’t smart, if that is your starting point – don’t let the template ruin the result.

* Yes, I know there are other labels used for S.M.A.R.T., but it doesn’t invalidate the point.


About the Author:

Dr. Philip D. Mann is an experienced trainer, speaker, and problem solver who gets things done. His primary expertise is employee engagement and the people side of how organizations grow and (resist) change. He also knows a thing or two about the government works, and those principles apply to all large, bureaucratic structures. If you need help getting things done, reach out to Dr. Mann here on LinkedIn or at

Published inBenefitsDecisions and Decision AnalysisEmotional Quotient (EQ)Employee EngagementLeaders and ManagersLinkedInMillennialsRecruitmentRelationshipsUncategorized

Be First to Comment

©2016-2017 Workforce Engagement and Human Capital Solutions, LLC
%d bloggers like this: