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What are SMART Goals?

  • Statements of the important results you are working to accomplish
  • Designed in a way to foster clear and mutual understanding of what constitutes expected levels of performance and successful professional development
  • Include both Performance Goals and Development Goals
  • Created using the SMART Method

What is the difference between Performance and Development Goals?

  • Performance Goals are:
    • Appropriate to the level of the position
    • Related to job responsibilities and deliverables
    • Aligned to higher level goals
  • Development Goals are:
    • Learning-oriented
    • Support higher level performance in the employee’s current job and career advancement

What is the SMART Method for setting individual goals?



What will be accomplished? What actions will you take?



What data will measure the goal? (How much? How many? How well?)



Is the goal doable? Do you have the necessary skills and resources?



How does the goal align with broader goals? Why is the result important?



What is the time frame for accomplishing the goal?

SMART Goal Formula
Goal Statement
What makes it SMART

Do _______ . . .

Specific action taken

in order to _______ . . .

to accomplish Measurable, Relevant result

By _______

Within certain Time frame


And make sure it’s Achievable!
(realistic time frame, sufficient resources, feasible target)

What are Action Plans and how do they help in developing and achieving SMART Goals?

  • Action plans are the specific tasks or steps you will take to accomplish each goal.
  • They help determine whether the end result and timeframe are achievable and the resources and support you will need to be successful.
  • They provide a roadmap to monitor and a focus for employee/supervisor feedback and coaching.

How do I decide the right scope for my Performance Goals? (How big? How many?)

1.Performance goals are meant to address all of your major job responsibilities.

  • Performance Goals are not limited to things you take on as extra credit above and beyond your day-to-day job.  They are your day-to-day job.
  • Start by thinking about your whole job and the broad areas (or “buckets”) of responsibility and results for which you are accountable.
  • Develop a performance goal statement for each bucket.  To get the scope right, remember to focus on end results not tasks.
  • Goals should be high level enough to encompass the core outcomes for which you are responsible, but specific and clear enough so you will be able to measure success.
  • Performance goals include both ongoing program responsibilities and any new projects, assignments, priorities, or initiatives that are specific to this performance cycle.
  • For most employees, the majority of their goals will articulate ongoing responsibilities and may not change much, if at all, from year to year.

2. In general, employees at higher levels of the organization have broader and more complex responsibilities and therefore more performance goals.  However, even executive level employees should be able to capture their entire job in less than 10 goals.

  • Having too many goals can be an indicator that your goals are scoped at too low a level and are focused more on tasks than on end results.
  • Tasks are most appropriate in the action plans supporting each goal, not in the goal itself.
  • If it seems that your goals are becoming too numerous and task-oriented, it may be helpful to consider combining several goal statements into a broader outcome area, with specific tasks listed in the action plan.
  • If there are still too many goals, it could be that some need to be removed or postponed.
  • Remember, goals are intended to focus attention and resources on what is most important so that you can be successful in achieving your priorities.
  • Having too many goals can have the same effect as not having any goals at all.

3. The focus and level of your goals will be driven by your role and the way your job contributes to the relevant end results.

  • Different employees within or across work units may each have a piece of a broader goal, contributing in ways that are consistent with their areas of responsibility and expertise.
  • You may be ultimately responsible for an outcome to which others who report to you also contribute.
  • The “S” (specific action) for your goal should reflect your role and contribution.
  • The “S” also helps communicate whether a goal reflects an ongoing program responsibility or a new, time-specific assignment.
  •  “S” actions may include:


























  • Note that this list does not include verbs like “improve,” “reduce,” or “increase” (e.g. “Improve customer service” or “reduce cost.”  These imply the direction that you want a result to move in, but don’t do much to explain the role or specific action that you will take to accomplish this change.

What are some common measurement sources for SMART goals?

  • As the “M” in SMART states, there should be a source of information to measure or determine whether a goal has been achieved.
  • The M is a direct (or possibly indirect) indicator of what success for a particular goal will look like.
  • Sometimes measurement is difficult and managers, supervisors and employees will need to work together to identify the most relevant and feasible data sources and collection methods.
  • Data collection efforts needed to measure a goal can be included in that goal’s action plan.
  • Even if a perfect, direct measurement source is not immediately feasible for a given goal, the discussion about the desired end result (why this goal is important) and what the measurement options are (what success might look like) is an important and valuable part of performance planning.
  • Measurement methods can be both quantitative and qualitative.
  • Some typical data types and data collection methods may include:
Data Types
Data Collection Methods
  • Quality/accuracy rates

  • Automated reports

  • Amounts produced

  • Audits, tests, inspections

  • Revenue generated

  • Costs reduced

  • Surveys (of customers and other stakeholders)

  • Turn around times, timeliness

  • Observation

  • Time saved

  • Feedback logs

  • Productivity rates

  • Work products, samples

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Other documentation

  • Other “stakeholder” feedback (peers, direct reports, etc.)


Why are Development Goals important?

  • Development goals focus on learning and learning is key to performance, both for the organization and the individual.
  • Development goals are relevant for everyone, regardless of their responsibility level, tenure or long-term career aspirations.
  • Development goals can help employees stay current, hone their skill sets and re-ignite their passion within an existing area of responsibility.
  • They can also help employee develop a new set of skills and knowledge base in order to grow into a new area of responsibility.
  • A commitment to employee development helps organizations recruit, retain and motivate successful and committed employees.

Examples of SMART Goals

Performance Goals


  • Provide high quality customer service resulting in a 90% customer satisfaction rating from external customers on accuracy, timeliness and courtesy measures on an ongoing basis.
  • On an ongoing basis, reconcile the department financial reports by the 15th of every month with no increase in reconciliation errors.
  • On an ongoing basis, accurately process and dispatch 95% of high priority calls for police, fire and medical services.
  • On an ongoing basis, dispatch 82% of high priority calls for police, fire and medical services within established timeframes.
  • Resolve 90% of complaints through a collaborative process without need for formal mediation on an ongoing basis.
  • Conduct education, monitoring and enforcement to ensure that 98% of agricultural and pest control businesses are in compliance with all pesticide regulatory requirements on an ongoing basis.
  • Manage and support effective performance resulting in achievement of 75% of program and individual performance targets by the end of the fiscal year.
  • Manage the department budget to stay within appropriations and accomplish 85% of service results by the end of the fiscal year.
  • Coach and support my direct reports resulting in attainment of 85% of all performance plan goals and feedback from direct reports that I provided them with clear expectations, meaningful feedback and fair performance evaluations by the end of the fiscal year.

New Project/Performance Cycle-Specific

  • By March 2011, develop and implement a customer service plan that results in department staff reporting that they are clear about expectations for excellent customer service and have the skills and support to perform at that level and that results in customers reporting that they receive excellent customer service.
  • Transition to a new automated case management system with minimal affects on customer service by developing a training program that ensures all staff can process 30 cases per day no later than three months after the end of the training classes.
  • Reduce overtime in the department from 150 hours per month to 50 hours per month by the end of the fiscal year with no increase in incident reports.
  • Develop a quality improvement process for the sanitary sewer system that reduces the failure rate to 1% by 12/31/11.
  • Create a partnership with at least 5 local cities to deliver two compliance-related training workshops resulting in $____ improvement in Net County Cost by 6/30/11.
  • By 11/30/11, update the employee handbook to include a searchable intranet version that employees find easy to use and informative.
  • Complete the Energy Watch Program to reduce countywide carbon emissions by 605 tons by the end of the fiscal year.
  • Conduct outreach and education that reduces the amount of illegal dumping into the streets and drainage channels by __% by June 30, 2011.
  • Develop and implement vehicle replacement plan to increase the Average Fuel Economy to 30 Miles per Gallon by 2012 for Midsize and Compact Vehicles and to increase the average Miles per Gallon on the total fleet to 25 MPG by 2016.
  • Implement Evidence Based Probation Service (EPBS) practices in order to reduce recidivism among participants by __% by June 30, 2011.

Development Goals

  • By June 30, 2011, develop and apply upgraded computer skills that enable me to produce budget reconciliation reports each month in a timely and accurate fashion.
  • Develop and practice my coaching skills so that my direct reports report that they feel more satisfied with their work and able to perform at a higher level and such that I achieve a 30/70 split between coaching and doing by June 30, 2011.
  • By June 30, 2011, complete course work and attain a CSAC credential to enhance my skills as an effective leader as measured by feedback from my supervisor and the accomplishment of my performance plan goals.
  • More to come . . .

Community (Vision 2025: Collaborative)

Our Leaders forge partnerships, promote regional solutions with informed and engaged residents, and approach issues with fiscal accountability and concern for future impacts

County (CMO)

Achieve 75% of quality and outcome measures meeting performance targets in all County departments

Department (HR)

Develop and implement strategic approaches to enhance organizational effectiveness

Division, Program

Increase the number of management employees with individual performance goals that are aligned to department and organizational goals


Conduct and evaluate CPMS pilot by June 2010 resulting in 85% of participants reporting ease of use and accomplishment of pilot objectives