Creating SMART goals for success

The issue of workplace productivity has long been debated in the popular press, as organisations look for new ways to boost performance and measure the output of their employees.

Of course, measuring productivity accurately can prove difficult, especially when looking for a general method that can be applied across all industries.

Increasing productivity means surpassing your previous best, without significantly increasing your resources and it can only happen once you identify new goals and build on past performances.

To facilitate positive change, you must first gain the commitment of your wider team and instil a new positive attitude of working to ‘beat your best’.

Establishing effective SMART goals can help lay a foundation for future success.

S stands for SPECIFIC

Goals that are easily defined can be classed as specific. While general goals can be difficult to complete, specific goals have a much greater chance of being accomplished. To set a specific goal, ask yourself:

  • WHO: Who is involved?
  • WHAT: What do I want to accomplish?
  • WHERE: Identify a location,
  • WHEN: Establish a time frame.
  • WHICH: Identify requirements and constraints.
  • WHY: Purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

M stands for MEASURABLE

If a goal can be quantified, then it qualifies as being measurable. It’s important to establish detailed criteria for measuring your progress, allowing you to stay on track towards completing your goals. Progress management also enables you to keep to pre-established timing plans, while embracing the personal satisfaction and exhilaration used to promote self-motivation.

To determine whether your goal is measurable, ask questions such as…

  • How many?
  • How much?
  • How long?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

A stands for ATTAINABLE

Only once a goal is humanly possible to accomplish can it be classed as attainable. After outlining the goals that you want to accomplish, you should begin creating a plan of action that can help you achieve these targets.

This may involve learning new skills or developing the abilities and financial capacity needed to make them a reality. This new-found attitude will allow you to embrace opportunities you once turned down.

With a clear and effective plan, you can achieve almost any goal you set, as you follow the steps needed to succeed.

Those targets that once felt out of sight and impossible to accomplish now move closer and become attainable. Not because they are easier, but because you have grown as an individual and have developed the right tools.

When you list your goals, you build a positive self-image. You slowly begin to develop the traits and personality needed to possess them.

R stands for REALISTIC

For a goal to be realistic, it must represent an objective that you are both willing and able to work towards. Just because you set the bar high doesn’t mean it is unrealistic.

Often the hardest tasks are simple to complete but feel longer due to a lack of motivation and passion. It’s crucial that the targets you set yourself represent substantial, measurable progress.

A goal becomes realistic once you truly believe it can be completed using the time and resources available to you.

If you have completed similar tasks in the past, then this can be a good indication that a goal is realistic – ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to complete the goal and then create this environment.

T stands for TANGIBLE

A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the five key senses – taste, touch, hearing, smell and sight. If you’re dealing with an intangible goal, you have a better chance of making it more realistic and attainable if you can attach a tangible to it.

Although tangible goals are easier to accomplish, intangible goals are vital to developing the personality characteristics needed to experience more success. Therefore, giving close attention to them and finding ways to monitor progress is vital for future development.

As you seek continuous professional and personal improvement, it is vital for you to set specific productivity goals – to reach any destination you need to know where you are going so you can plan the best way to get there.

High performance teams

How does your team perform? How do you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is poor and 10 excellent? Is it massively successful constantly delivering way past all expectations? Is it full of positively minded people working together to achieve challenging business goals? Is it autonomous, responding effectively to challenges and opportunities large and small?

If the answer to these questions is “yes”, congratulations, you can score a 10 and don’t need to read any more of this article. In fact, as you are likely to have plenty of time for high yield activities, give me a call to discuss how your team got there.
Sadly, this isn’t the case for most of us. Your team may not be a “10” but I doubt if it’s a “1” either. Hopefully you are somewhere on the path and have the right attitudes, values and approach develop your team into a “10”.

Empowerment is a key ingredient to the high performing team

If your team feels undervalued, lacking in authority and capability, frightened to make the slightest mistake it’s unlikely to be hitting the high notes. Perhaps there are some individuals that show real potential but others are negative and unproductive?
Are you creating the right conditions for success? Does the team have a clear understanding of what is required of them? Have you a vision of what success looks like? Are the goals you have set, or been set, shared and meaningful to all team members?

motivation needs more than just money


Reward and fear motivation is common in business today. A common example is rewarding success with a bag of money and punishing failure with the sack. The trouble is we get used to this, we need more and more money to get the same level of motivation and become resilient to threats of the sack.

Internal motivation is far more lasting and effective

It needs more work, it needs you to really understand your people and what drives them. If you know this and use personal, meaningful goals your team will self-motivate. If you have linked their personal, meaningful goals to team and company goals you are well on the way to a successful team.

The whole team is raring to go, but have they the capability to execute? Are team members allowed to make decisions? Have you delegated effectively packaging the task with the necessary authority and resources? Effective delegation is important to team success and team growth. It is a wonderful growth tool for teams and individuals. It does, however need certain attitudes and process to succeed.

Flexibility is a good starting point. The way you do a task may not be the way a team member does. They can be innovative and bring unexpectedly good results given the opportunity. It’s worth letting people test out new ideas. Sometimes different is really good, just think of Amazon and Facebook.

How self-confident are you? Enough to release authority and responsibility to team members? Enough to heap praise publicly when they bring success? Lack of self-confidence and micromanagement are the enemy of productivity. Conquer them and you will become an indispensable profit and productivity generator both for yourself and your company.

a women with focus and vision


Focus on results don’t strive for perfection

Perfect is no friend of productivity. Set standards that are right for the job and always be mindful of the Pareto principle. 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of activities. This means a lot of the work delegated will contribute relatively little to overall performance. It’s intelligent to accept less than perfect in relatively unimportant areas.

Taking credit for the work of others, not really listening to their ideas or working solo crush team morale and productivity. Some people believe effective leaders must always be in total control. They see this as the way “good bosses” should behave. Many bosses do behave this way but I question if they are good. It’s most certainly not the way a good leader behaves so, if that’s what you want to be I suggest you avoid this behaviour entirely.

Delegation develops employees into effective team members

Risk is inherent but you can balance it against the likely reward in terms of personal and team growth and overall performance. It’s also possible to limit risk by adopting a multi-level delegation process.

Tiffany is a bright, driven girl with her foot on the first rung of the marketing ladder. She is doing a great job creating very successful direct mail campaigns. She is eager for something new and looks like a good candidate for development. You have just the task and would like to delegate it to her. It’s running an event which will be a challenge for her but offers a great development opportunity.

A good first step is to her for an opinion. You might say “I’m thinking of doing things differently and wondered who you think might be able to handle this task, perhaps even you? This gives her the opportunity to express opinions but not feel forced to accept the task.

If Tiffany accepts, consider this approach. The first time the opportunity to run an event comes along you run it, let her watch you do it and ask questions. The second time let Tiffany do it with you assisting and helping out where needed. The third time she runs the event, but this time without your support unless absolutely needed, reporting at regular intervals. Subsequent times she always runs events unaided and only reports in exceptional circumstances.

one woman showing another how best to do something

working women

One seemingly small point is very important for Tiffany’s confidence and status in the team. If she performs well, make the praise loud, long and public. If she needs coaching make it supportive, private and non-judgemental.

And finally…

I hope this is look at high performance teams is useful to you and helps you build your own, but we’d welcome the opportunity to explain how we can help, so please email me for a no obligation chat. You can find more advice and interesting content at