SMART is a useful guide for setting objectives - especially for performance management and personal development.
The letters stand for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
Specific goals are clear and unambiguous.
They outline exactly what is to be accomplished and by whom.
It is important to note any detailed requirements and constraints.
It is important to measure progress toward the attainment of the goal.
If a goal is not measurable, how will you know you are making progress and on track to deliver?
Research tells us that "you get what you measure".
Goals should be achievable but still stretching enough for individuals.
Ideally the level of challenge should be near the upper band of an individual’s capability.
If the challenge is too great it will put someone "out of flow" and may result in reduced performance.
Goals need to be deliverable within the availability of resources, knowledge and time
Goals also need to be relevant. The best goals tap into the personal motivators of an individual and are aligned with the strategic imperatives of the organisation. If goals do not seem worthwhile, people are less likely to commit high levels of energy and passion into the attainment of the goal.
Goals need to be grounded within a time frame, by setting a target date.
A commitment to a deadline helps people focus their efforts on completion of the goal on time by creating a sense of urgency.
Setting intermediate goals can be a nice way to make a large goal seem more achievable.
Drucker, Peter F. (1954). The Practice Of Management. New York: Harper & Row, 1954. Print.