New Year, new SMART

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New Year, new SMART

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The New Year is the perfect opportunity for employers and their staff to make a new start and really work on their performance.

Here are some top tips on how to get the best out of your workforce by being SMART when holding appraisals in 2015.

There have been many variations on the SMART mnemonic acronym since the brainchild was first introduced by management consultant George T Doran in his paper, ‘There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives’, which was published in the November 1981 issue of Management Review.  His original five objectives were as follows: Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related.

The principles have been adapted by Paul J Meyer, the founder of the Success Motivation Institute, who replaced assignable with attainable, and realistic with relevant in his book ‘Attitude is Everything’.  Here are some tips on how each principle can be used as a goal setting guide.


Employers should target an area of improvement when holding appraisals.  In order to do this, they should ask themselves the following five ‘w’ questions:

  1. What: identify what you want to achieve
  2. Why: specific reasons, reason or advantages of achieving the goal
  3. Who: identify the people invoved
  4. Where: choose a location
  5. Which: consider requirements and constraints


Objectives can be measurable by relating them to profits, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), or an employee’s NPS (Net Promoter Score).  Factors to consider when making goals measurable include:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it has been achieved?
  • Indicators should be quantifiable


The most important question that needs to be asked when setting attainable goals is how:

  • How can the objective be achieved?
  • How realistic is the goal based on other constraints?


  • Is the goal worthwhile?
  • Is the time right?
  • Does it match other efforts/needs?
  • Has the right person been chosen?
  • Is it relevant to the current socio-economic environment?


The purpose of this consideration is to create a sense of urgency, after all, time is money!  Questions to be considered in order to make a goal time-bound include:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can i do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Other variations on the SMART acronym include:

S: Significant, stretching, sustainable, simple

M: Motivational, manageable, meaningful

A: Appropriate, agreed, achievable, actionable, action-orientated, adjustable, ambitious

R: Results-based, results-orientated, resourced, resonant, realistic, reasonable

T: Time-orientated, time-framed, timed, time-based, time-specific, time limited, tangible

For more expert advice on this and other HR issues, contact aible on 01656 630 010 for a free, no obligation chat, or email

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