Many of us know of the very useful SMART acronym when it comes to setting objectives - but we think it doesn’t go far enough.
Read below for our 7 step guide to better performance objective setting.
SMART has been very useful in helping to do a quick check on any objective that is being written. But it doesn't allow for an objective to be exceeded or indeed for it to stretch the individual.
We suggest a new acronym STREAMS which will lead to better perfomance objective setting.
S – Is the objective specific?
Does it set out exactly what needs to be achieved, so the individual isn’t likely to go off track, or end up somewhere else? Does it make it clear what success will look like? Does it describe the outcome and cover off the ‘what’ and ‘how’ aspects of performance?
T – Does the objective have time frames attached to it?
When does this need to be done by? Are there milestones which are time-based? Is it reasonably close to the present (i.e., not so far off into the future that it will be difficult to motivate yourself to achieve the goal and hard to see where progress has been made)?
R – How and when will this be reviewed and monitored?
What ongoing support and progress updates might be necessary to ensure that the individual is on-track, and give him or her every opportunity to achieve the goal by the end of the review period?
E – Can this objective be exceeded?
Would it be possible to go beyond expectations, and score the top marking on the review/assessment scale if the individual really put in a great deal of effort?
A – Has the objective been agreed by the individual?
Has he or she contributed to this, or had an input into how the objective has been written? Is it something he or she sees as being important, linked to organisational strategy, part of the role, consistent with his or her strengths, experience, interests or career aims?
M – Is it measurable?
Is it clear how the manager, and the individual, will know if they have achieved it or not? Does it make it clear what sort of evidence the individual would need to provide in order to make a sensible assessment of achievement? Does it describe how any behavioural or qualitative elements might be measured?
S – Is the objective stretching and challenging?
Will it lead to an improvement in the way things are now? Does it build on previous successes, or seek to solve past problems that are causing blockages and difficulties? Again, this is something you won’t know from reading an objective, but the individual will know if it’s stretching or not. Objectives should be things that require some effort; that might require some learning or skills development (or within a set of objectives, at least one should be more than just ‘business as usual’.
This 7 point checklist can also be found in our eBook - Continuous Performance Management and how to get started. Request your copy now.