SMART Goal Setting Theory

SMART Goal Setting Theory


This video on setting SMART Goals is part of a human resources series on Performance Management. One of the first steps any organization should take in Performance Management is to do goal setting for the organization and for individuals.


Everyone knows what a goal is: a desired result or outcome. It’s something you want or something you want to happen. But wishing and hoping for something to happen isn’t as effective as planning action steps to make it happen.


I’m Sheryl Wolowyk and in this short human resource video I’m going to give you four tips to help you define your goals with some goal setting activities and show you how to establish SMART goals. Once you have defined your goals you can continue to develop a performance plan to help you achieve your goals.


  1. The first tip in setting goals is for you, your management team and employees to decide what it will take for your organization to move forward. Establish a clear definition of what your Organizational vision is and what your organizational objectives are. Your goal setting should be tied to this.
  2. The second tip in setting goals is to use action words. My goal is to sell, my goal is to acquire, not my goal is to improve.
  3. My third tip for setting goals is to remember to make long- term goals and short-term goals. Think today, think next week, think next year and think 2 years from now. Don’t forget the companies’ vision throughout time.
  4. The fourth tip is to remember this acronym: SMART. This stands for:




R-Results Oriented

T-Time bound goals.



The specific in SMART goals is that your goals should be specific to your organization’s vision, strategic objectives and to your job description. Avoid vague statements about what you want to accomplish, rather state clear outcomes you wish to achieve, who will be involved, where it will happen, why it’s important. For example, ‘My goal is to develop a new invoicing procedure (in the next 2 weeks) that will shorten the time it takes Jane and John to process an invoice.’ This goal states what needs to happen (develop a new invoicing procedure), when it’s going to happen (in the next 2 weeks), why it needs to happen ( to shorten the time it takes Jane and John to process an invoice), and which employees are involved (Jane and John).


Next, when doing SMART goal setting make sure the goal is measurable. Rather than having a goal ‘to sell as many cars as possible this month’, you would say ‘my goal is to sell 30 cars this month.’ Then at the end of the month you can measure whether or not you met your goals.


Your SMART goals should be achievable. Is selling 30 cars realistic in your shop? Maybe you only have 20 customers a month in which case there’s no way you can possibly sell 30 cars. When doing SMART goal setting ensure your goals are reachable, they can be a stretch goal but it needs to be possible to reach.


The results in SMART goals means to make your goals results-oriented. Describe the result, not a process. ‘My goal is to sell 15 units’, not ‘my goal is to increase sales’. To increase sales is a process, not a result. To sell 15 units is a result.


And lastly, when doing SMART goal setting ensure your goals timely. Describe when that goal needs to be reached. ‘My goal is to sell 15 units in the month of January. Just like in the first example, you can evaluate your sales at the end of January clearly know if you fell short, met, or exceeded your goal.


When you set goals within a Performance Management framework, your staff’s on-going activities have clear purpose and they know what will be achieved by doing them. Management and colleagues know what to expect of an employee and employees know what is expected of them. When employees know what they are working toward, there is a sense of purpose within the organization, and engagement and job satisfaction increases.


Creating SMART goals sets the groundwork for the next step in a Performance Management system, and that is to create Performance Plans. A performance plan describes exactly how the employees will achieve their goals. Please view my other human resource video for more details on the next step!


Also be sure to visit our website at for your downloadable SMART goal setting template, and a performance plan template. You can also visit our website to find more hr forms and hr articles or for more information about how to ensure your employee goals get met.