SMART Objectives and their enemies…

I’m getting into evaluation time and I realize how easy it is for “manager and managed” to skimp on SMART objectives.  “Skimp” isn’t even the right word — professionals should challenge each other about how to align vision, mission, and goals — the right words are “ignore and forget.”  The alignment facet of objective-setting gets lost in favor of just getting through the review.

As a reminder the “SMART” acronym means that objectives should be:

Specific: Objectives should clearly describe the desired outcomes – focusing on results, not activities.
Measurable: Objectives should be measurable in either a qualitative or quantitative way.
Attainable: Objectives should be challenging, but attainable.
Relevant: Objectives should be relevant to support the team and company objectives.
Time Bound: Objectives should include relevant, realistic deliverable dates.

It is easy for all to enter into an unspoken conspiracy to avoid the work that goes into the SMART vision.  For managers, it is easy to come up with a “one-liner” that is plausibly relevant, but may not meet any other criteria.  It minimizes any conflict, but there’s no thought of how to measure success, validating whether the objective is still relevant (you’d be amazed how many survive from year to year), and creating milestones to judge progress. 

For the objective owner, it is easy to assent to the “one-liner,” knowing that it can be challenged at review time OR it is easy to insist on listing all the tasks at review time.  The compendium of tasks distracts from the outcomes, while focusing on just how hard, time consuming, difficult-to-measure, etc. the objective is.

One Response

  1. […] Over at Crossderry, Paul talks about the challenges of choosing SMART objectives for performance evaluations.  As he points out, coming up with good objectives isn’t easy […]

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