Frustration and confusion are the opposite of what you can achieve using SMART goals. The SMART goal framework is a powerful tool that can help you set solid goals for yourself, as a manager, and for your team members.
Besides focusing on enhancing the performance of the team members and keeping them motivated, refining and boosting your leadership skills can make you stand out. SMART goals for managers that focus on leadership skills can help you develop your managerial style and be that boss employees wish they work with.
Learn more about what leadership skills you can enhance and how to set SMART goals around them in this article. You will also find an editable template that can help you write great SMART goals.
What is a SMART goal?
Developed in 1981 by consultant George Doran with Arthur Miller and James Cunningham, the SMART framework quickly became the standard for writing goals and objectives for organizations.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
To create a SMART goal, you need to follow the previously mentioned criteria, so you can have a specific plan instead of ambiguous goals.
Using the SMART goal methodology, you can set goals for your team and yourself, as a manager, which can enhance performance and promote motivation. SMART goals for managers are a crucial part of business success.
What are the five (5) SMART goals?
You need to follow certain criteria when setting SMART goals. Each letter in SMART stands for an adjective that describes the perfect goal. So, let's break down what each letter in the acronym SMART stands for.
SMART goals are specific
A great SMART goal is a specific and clearly defined one. When reading a SMART goal statement, you should be able to understand what needs to be done and have clear steps to attain that objective.
To have a clear goal that isn't misinterpreted or misleading, your SMART goal statement should answer the questions: who, what, when, where, and why:
- Who is involved in the goal you need to achieve?
- What do you want to achieve?
- When will it happen?
- Where will you accomplish it?
- Why do you want to achieve it? What are the benefits of the goal?
SMART goals are measurable
Once you've selected a specific goal, you've to focus on how to measure its success or completion. For both you, as a manager, and your team members, having a measurable objective is an excellent approach to keeping track of progress.
Having a measurable goal doesn't mean you need to use the traditional ways such as a numeric scale or statistic. However, your goal must be quantifiable in some sense.
You need to make it clear for your team members when they've reached or are close to reaching the agreed-upon goal, so they can independently keep track of progress. In other words, you need to use a clear metric to measure your goal and easily track progress.
If you need more help knowing whether your goal is measurable, use the following questions:
- How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?
- What is the endpoint of your goal?
- Is there a numeric scale or statistic you can use to track your progress? If not, how will you indicate progress?
SMART goals are achievable
As a manager, it’s best if you target a challenging but possible goal. Big dreams and pushing boundaries can positively impact your team, but you’ve got to be careful when setting goals; they shouldn’t be unrealistic or outlandish.
Your team members can suffer from frustration or repeated failures if you create unachievable goals.
When setting an attainable goal, you need to consider the available resources, including skills, time, and tools. Dividing bigger goals into smaller ones can definitely create stepping stones to reaching what you have in mind.
With good planning, you can use the available sources to help you achieve a goal you are prepared for at the moment.
We recommend answering the following questions to create attainable goals:
- Is the goal you’ve chosen too easy to the point that it’s meaningless or is it challenging and exciting enough to hit and also be achievable?
- Is this goal attainable and realistic using your current resources? If not, what do you need to add?
- Do you have enough time to achieve this goal?
- Are there specific limitations that might hold you from achieving your goal?
- Do you need to increase skills or knowledge within your team in order to be successful?
- Have other managers achieved this goal before?
SMART goals are relevant
To explain this aspect clearly, let's define what an irrelevant goal is: if your goal statement isn’t eventually leading you anywhere, it’s probably irrelevant.
An irrelevant goal can create chaos and confusion among your team and a sense that the broader goals will never be achieved.
A relevant goal resonates with you, your team, and your organization and contributes to your broader and long-term leadership goals.
When you set a SMART leadership goal, it is only relevant when everyone’s working towards the same objectives. Setting leadership SMART goals should align directly with company-wide goals.
Of course, setting a goal that is measurable (M) and achievable (A) is important, but beneficial goals are those that contribute to the company's success.
As a manager, helping your employees link their goals back to company-wide goals will definitely boost their performance.
Here are some questions to help you set a relevant goal:
- Does this goal align with the company goals? Or does it create any kind of conflict?
- What type of big picture does your goal fit into? And why are you working toward that objective?
- How does this goal help your team achieve their quarterly goals?
- In what way does this goal support your company’s success?
- Is it the right time to focus on this goal?
SMART goals are time-bound
The letter T in SMART is about having defined start and end dates for a goal. It is the final criteria for your goal to be SMART.
You need to set your SMART goal in a time frame that helps your goal be achievable and easily tracked in terms of progress while keeping your team motivated.
Without a specific timeframe or date, it could take forever to reach something. On the other hand, you and your team are forced to take an action when setting a reasonable deadline that doesn’t make your goal unattainable.
A time-bound goal keeps you on schedule and holds you and your team accountable. To make sure your team is always progressing towards a certain goal, you can make a projected timeline with specific milestones. This will show the pace with which your team is working, and if you need to change it.
When choosing the perfect amount of time to achieve a goal, ask yourself:
- Is your goal achievable within the time frame you've set?
- What can you achieve this month, quarter, or year?
- Is the time frame you've set reasonable?
- Can you and your team achieve the required tasks faster or do you need more time?
- Do you need to discuss the time frame with your team?
Editable SMART goals template for managers
In the following sections, you will know about the importance and advantages of SMART goals and how to set them. Before reading on, make sure you download this editable template for SMART goals. It's free and covers what you need. You can customize the template according to your needs and practice setting SMART goals that boost productivity.
Why are SMART goals important?
Why use SMART goals? The importance of the SMART goal framework lies in offering you clarity and reducing confusion.
Being a leader comes with its great share of responsibilities. You need to increase the productivity of the team through using the right productivity tools and setting goals that motivate them and are aligned with company-wide goals. Moreover, no matter what type of leader you are, you need to set goals for yourself and always be in learning mode. Your team members look up to you and you need to display the behaviors you want to see in them.
Setting clear SMART goals will guarantee that you work efficiently on what matters and that your team is fully aligned.
Do SMART goals work?
The short answer is yes. If done correctly, SMART goals can empower you, as a manager, and your team members. Not following the SMART goals framework may lead to setting unachievable goals during very short timeframes, which may create confusion and frustration.
However, while focusing on SMART goals for managers can bring about numerous benefits, you need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the SMART goal framework, mentioned in the following sections.
Advantages of SMART goals
Performance goals for managers are best set using the SMART goal methodology for many reasons. The following are some of the benefits that come with applying SMART goals for managers:
- Providing clarity, managers and team members are aligned, and everyone knows their part
- Helping managers choose relevant, company-wide objectives
- Offering a structured way to set goals
- Helping retain the whole team’s focus on the desired result
- Saving time that could be wasted on activities that aren’t SMART goal-oriented
- Helping the team stay motivated
Disadvantages of SMART goals
Although the SMART goal methodology has repeatedly proven its success, it can have some drawbacks:
- Being time-consuming as creating SMART goals requires a lot of effort and time
- Creating unnecessary pressure: it is such an exhaustive process that you may risk feeling it is a burden rather than a chance to achieve your desired goals
- Can be disheartening if you fail to meet your goals or do not follow them through
- Inhibiting your creativity and out-of-the-box solutions as it is a rigid framework
How can SMART goals for managers enhance leadership skills?
To set relevant goals that can serve as company-wide goals and refine your leadership skills, you need to focus on what's important. It's best to pinpoint the important leadership skills that most great managers agree on. Here is what the best managers/leaders do.
They coach and mentor
According to Harvard Business Review, great managers know how to spot the strengths and weaknesses of their employees and make the most out of their strengths.
They help the employees know that a strength is not just something they’re good at, but in fact, it might be something they aren’t good at yet.
Great managers coach their team members to find this preference or special liking for something and help them get better at it over time.
They're effective at making decisions
Forbes mentions that great managers are the ones who make effective decisions, think logically, and solve conflicts. To guide their team towards the finish line for projects or goals, the best managers know how to make effective decisions with abundant information in a short time to get the best results from their team.
They’re great communicators
Developing clear communication, be it verbal, written, or nonverbal, that works for your team's style will take 90% of the stress out of your day. It might involve a weekly planning meeting to distribute the workload, or it might mean absolutely no meetings at all and rather a daily write-up from each individual of what's been done and what's outstanding.
They run and plan effective meetings
Great managers know the value of effective meetings. Successful meetings help guide the employees and ensure strong communication throughout a company.
A well-planned meeting communicates clearly what needs to be done and reduces wasted time, allowing employees to spend more time on work rather than a long online meeting.
Though successful meetings may differ according to each business, you can use the following general guidelines to plan and run effective meetings.
1. Check if the meeting is needed
Before scheduling a meeting, you need to assess how necessary it is because meetings take effort and time. Check whether the information you need to communicate can be included in a future meeting or sent in a short email or a message over Slack.
2. Set a well-structured agenda
To effectively communicate the aim of the meeting, you need to plan out a meeting agenda. A meeting agenda that outlines the main discussion topics, who handles each part of the meeting, and time spent on each topic will help everyone stay on track and reduce wasted time.
Screenshot from adam.ai: Creating a meeting agenda
Here are some excellent meeting templates you can use:
3. Take notes and share meeting minutes
Taking detailed notes will avoid confusion and keep everyone aligned. Responsibilities and deadlines are clear when you use well-structured agendas and share meeting minutes.
Automatically generating and sharing meeting minutes on adam.ai
4. Create action items
Ending your meeting with a list of action items will help attendees be committed and clear about responsibilities and deadlines.
Running meetings through meeting management software helps leaders hold effective meetings and properly follow them up. A meeting management platform like adam.ai also keeps meetings on track, boosts productivity, and saves time for the whole team.
14-day pro. No credit card. No hidden fees.
How to write SMART goals for managers (with examples)
The following are examples of great SMART goals for managers. These management goals and objectives examples may inspire you to write your own SMART goals that can refine your leadership skills and positively impact your company. After going through these long-term leadership goals examples, you can use our editable template to help you write great SMART leadership goals.
SMART goal for effective meetings
Goal: I will make staff meetings more effective using carefully planned meeting agendas and being mindful of everyone's time. I will decrease the meeting time from one hour to 45 minutes. In two months, I will check with my team if this change was effective.
S: The goal is to tighten the time spent on staff meetings using well-planned meeting agendas to discuss relevant topics.
M: Reducing time by 15 minutes is a measurable goal.
A: This goal is achievable when the focus is only on relevant topics and keeping track of time.
R: These steps will help the team spend more time on work and less time on meetings.
T: A two-month timeframe is good enough to assess the impact of this change.
SMART goal for coaching and mentoring team members
Goal: By the end of the first quarter of 2022, I want to achieve one of my manager goals, which is inspiring all my team members through positive coaching and feedback.
I will track this by expecting that, during the quarter, each team member will offer at least one unique idea that we can apply to improve our work.
S: The specific goal is to inspire all the team members through coaching and mentoring.
M: The number of unique ideas is how this goal will be measured.
A: This is an achievable goal through consistent coaching and positive feedback.
R: This is a relevant goal because it serves company-wide goals. Inspired teams boost the overall performance of a company.
T: This goal is time-bound. The deadline is the end of the first quarter of 2022.
SMART goal for enhancing communication skills
Goal: I will enhance my communications skills through active listening. During every team meeting, I will maintain open body language and ask open-ended questions. I will also keep any distractions away, especially my smartphone when I’m having a conversation with my team members.
S: To demonstrate to the team that I value their opinions, I will enhance my active listening skills.
M: I will measure this goal by keeping a checklist during every team meeting that has the three objectives.
A: This is an achievable goal for managers.
R: This goal is relevant because providing an environment where the employees feel valued helps retain them.
T: This goal is bound to the time of every team meeting.
SMART goal for recognizing your team's efforts
Goal: I will offer small bonuses for all the team’s work finished on time to increase the team’s productivity. By doing so, I expect a reduction in average time for work completion by 20% at the end of the first quarter of 2022.
S: The specific goal is to increase the team’s productivity by offering incentives when their work is delivered on time.
M: A reduction in the average time the team takes to finish a project is how this goal will be measured.
A: This is an achievable goal through consistency in offering rewards.
R: This is a goal relevant to all managers and the company since it serves to increase productivity and, consequently, revenue.
T: The deadline for this goal is the first quarter of 2022.
Leadership comes with great responsibilities. From committing to your team to being a role model, you can fuel your company's success by refining your leadership skills and helping employees work towards common goals.
Leaders and managers who have solid goals for themselves and their teams improve the employees' and the whole company's performance.
The leadership SMART goals examples mentioned in the article can help guide you to create your own SMART goals that focus on enhancing your leadership skills, communication, and other soft skills is definitely rewarding.
Moreover, our easy-to-use, editable SMART goals template and worksheet can help you get started. And remember great SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.