Employees need to feel engaged and have high morale for them to be productive in performing their different tasks and achieving the objectives of the organization. While many factors may enhance employee motivation, one of the most important is setting goals; giving employees something to work towards. With goals, that which was previously unseen becomes more visible and it becomes easier to work towards its attainment.

Why Set Goals?

Setting clear goals and objectives helps not only in motivating employees but also in:

  • Enhancing their focus
  • Making it easier to monitor and evaluate progress
  • Avoiding time-wasting and procrastination
  • Promoting long term achievement (people long to enjoy the feeling of successfully attaining set goals again and again)

Because of the weight of its importance, many people find the process of setting goals tedious. However, this need not be the case. One of the best ways to make the process of setting goals easier is to keep them SMART.

Understanding SMART Goals

S – Specific

Setting specific goals means ensuring that the set objectives are clear, well defined and free of ambiguity. It also includes identifying the steps and actions that are required to get there. To set specific goals one should ask “W” questions such as:

What? (to accomplish)
Who? (is needed to achieve this accomplishment)
When? (should the goal be achieved)
Why? (are the goals required)
Which? (resources are required)

M – Measurable

A good and motivating goal should also be measurable. This means that there should be a way to monitor and evaluate the progress of accomplishing the goals. This includes identifying and setting the milestones to be achieved in the process of achieving the ultimate goals. It also includes identifying the indicators of success for these milestones and the ultimate goals. These indicators may be quantitative and/or qualitative.

A – Achievable

For employees to feel motivated enough to pursue a particular objective, it is important for them to feel and believe that their goals are attainable. This means believing that they are well equipped to pursue the goals. To set achievable goals, one needs to consider the process/efforts required to achieve them as well as the tools, skills, and knowledge required to achieve them.

R – Realistic

Realistic goals are those which, given specific resources, can be achieved within the time frame that has been set. It also means ensuring that the goals are aligned to the organizational or departmental overall goals and objectives.

T – Time-bound

Goals should also be time-bound in the sense that they should have a clearly defined beginning and completion date. This is important not only for the overall goal but also for the milestones in-between.