SMART Objectives for the Manager

Leadership has been a topic of ever growing concern among many populations. Having good leadership skills are becoming more and more imperative for vocational and personal success. For managers, there are many theories and practices which must be sorted through to find the techniques that will help motivate and inspire employees within their department. One such technique is the use of SMART objectives and goals. SMART goals encompass the overarching purposes of actions. These are the long term aspirations which an organization works to reach.

SMART objectives are the steps needed to be accomplished in order to reach the long term goals. They are often compared to the battle plan that will help a group reach their goal while having short term markers that will indicate whether progress is being made or not. SMART objectives are based upon an acronym that can help managers make plans for their group that will help ensure success while taking into account the many outside factors and details that can influence the outcome. S stands for specific, M for measurable, A is attainable, R is relevant and T is time-bound. Often, when setting goals for an organization, the amount of time available can make a big difference on the other objectives, so if a deadline is already in place, this may be prudent to consider first. Though it may be tempting to follow the steps of the acronym in order, many managers who have found success with this method commonly rearrange the elements in order to customize the SMART objectives made for that particular situation.

There have even been arguments put forth that the best way to implement these concepts is to follow a pattern variation of MARST. Whatever the personal preference or situation, the acronym can be a useful guide for taking into account the numerous components that can affect the success of an objective. For many managers, learning how to formulate clear and feasible objectives that both challenge and inspire employees takes time and practice to develop. On of the ways in which this can be developed is through personal application. Being able to formulate feasible personal SMART objectives and following through on them will give intimate knowledge and understanding for the process and its effect on intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

Additionally, when this pattern is familiar to the manager personally, it allows for better implementation of personal development plans for employees who have their own goals for performance and progress within the company. There are different types of objectives that can be taken under consideration and sometimes experienced managers will formulate many different types of SMART objectives relating to a single goal. The first can be process objectives, which focus on the participants, interactions and activities of those who are directly acting and implementing the “how” in regard to completing the work.

The next type of objective set are impact objectives. These are a type of forecasting that takes into account long term implications that could be a factor for audiences and the organization overall. The last group are outcome objectives, which take into account changing attitudes, increased training, knowledge levels, and behavior. These often look at beginning and desired degrees of change for people involved with the project. As can be seen, there are many different areas that need to be considered closely when trying to help a group reach their overall goal. Being able to accurately assess these different areas while formulating clear objectives that are understandable, inspiring and geared for direct implementation takes practice. When these skills are developed, they can be great assets to a manager who is trying to practice quality leadership techniques.

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