Being SMART About Setting Goals for Your Team

Emma Fulcher
Emma Fulcher
In Engagement, HR, Inspiration, MBOs, Objectives, Organization management
Emma Fulcher is the Social Media Manager and Content Writer at Xactly. She attended San Jose State University where she received her degree in English.

When you sit down with your team members, how can you ensure that you are doing your best to make sure they’re setting excellent goals?

Enter the SMART method – a theory attributed to Peter Drucker, who also coined the phrase MBO (Management by Objectives) in his book, “The Practice of Management” published in the early 1950’s. The method aims to involve employees in developing their professional standards to align closely with organizational goals. The idea is the more involved they are, the more likely they are to satisfy them.

Workforce of Today

The workforce environment has expanded in significant ways since the inception of Drucker’s theory. It’s not uncommon for many employees to work remotely, removed from a traditional office space. With the upsurge of mobile accessibility, the once concrete line between work and life has become more blurred than ever. Employees and managers are often tethered to their mobile devices, checking their work emails, and staying productive long after it’s time to clock out.

The pressure to work long hours, with little recognition, can get old – fast. One way to make employees feel more valued is to link employee performance with incentives. Xactly Objectives™ increases motivation by giving workers more understanding in how their objectives contribute to larger goals.

Vice President of Human Resources of Xactly, Leanne Bernhardt, shared her thoughts on goal setting, and Xactly Objectives. “It’s very fast-paced, which makes employees feel good, and keeps them motivated to go above and beyond.” Leanne also mentioned that goal setting, specifically focused around the SMART method, can leave out the concept of “stretch goals.”

However, keeping the SMART methodology in mind when it comes to goal setting can encourage enthusiasm among employees, inspiring them to not only complete goals for a quarter, but to exceed them.

Here’s the breakdown of SMART goals:

“S is for Specific”

Set goals that are closely aligned with your organization’s larger business goals. The number one reason employees choose to leave a company, is because they feel their professional goals aren’t being met. It’s necessary to completely understand what both parties hope to achieve. Ensuring that both a manager and employee’s expectations are aligned will avoid confusion as the quarter gets busy.

“M is for Measurable”

How will you be certain you accomplished your goal or not? Permanently inking what will define a team member’s success is critical. Making a goal like, “increase engagement,” is guaranteed to fail. Why? There’s no way to measure it – you won’t know if you increased engagement from last quarter. Defining your metrics – and the right metrics – are paramount to goal setting success.

“A is for Achievable”

Shooting for the stars is great. We should all continue to do so in life, and in our work. However, setting goals that are unrealistic, or out of a team member’s control, is a recipe for disappointment. No one wants disappointed employees. Identifying practical goals is an essential early step. Sometimes it’s necessary for a manager to reel in their employee, and when the time is right, to nurture them to reach.

“R is for Relevant”

Do your goals fit in with the bigger picture? Would your other team members agree with the goal? Aim to have team member goals be the supporting spokes on the wheel of the larger department, it all contributes to making the wheel turn successfully. This is a huge aspect of Xactly’s Objectives solution.

“T is for Timely”

Is the goal destined to be completed in a certain period, or do you foresee it becoming a dreaded on-going task? This section relates to the “achievable” section above. Unless it can be completed in a set amount of time, the task will likely be put off, and will have a negative impact on the employee.

Setting goals using the SMART method can be an incredibly effective technique. To continue working closely with employees on their individual goals, using Objectives provides more insights for employees to be clear about their achievements and progress in a quarter. A solution like Objectives allows employees and their managers to be proactive – not reactive – about their achievements. It encourages team members to think long-term, which benefits both employees and the organization.

While the real-time return of using Xactly Objectives is in fact, very real, Leanne shares, “The beauty really lies in the dialogue between the person and the manager.” No solution should replace the conversations between employees and their managers. Xactly Objectives facilitates opportunities for teams and organizations to have honest conversations about their goals, progress, and the resulting metrics.


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Being SMART About Setting Goals for Your Team

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