SMART Goal Setting — Time Bound

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Mar 31

In this series on goal setting using the traditional “SMART” methodology, the “T” represents “time-bound” for the goal. Or, in short: no date, no goal.

Time-bound goals help provide a sense of urgency to the goal, a sense that it is important and needs to be completed.

The uncertainty of business taints this ideal, however. Consider how to work with time bound goals when these things happen at your work:

  • Your manager changes and the direction of your group changes as well.
  • Your manager’s manager changes and changes the direction of your department.
  • Your business starts to lose money and budgets are cut — but your “growth” projects are still on your goals list.
  • The cooperation you received from other departments goes away because they have their direction and/or budget changed.
  • Competitive pressures, whether through product or service, become a higher priority than your work on a particular goal.

Untouched, these goals that are now out of the loop in terms of current business priority will still become part of your performance review.

No, that’s not fair. But it is what it is, so to speak.

Keeping these goals on your review hurts your manager as well. When it comes time to do the review, what is your manager going to rate you on for goals that no longer matter? You didn’t achieve your goals because business priorities changed, but there is no end to this goal and a new one to replace what is no longer relevant.

Consequently, you often will be rated “average” for the goal that you didn’t complete because of priority changes, but still remains on your review. This “average” rating will hurt your overall point average for the goals dragging down the amount of raise that you will get.

Or worse, you will be rated as “needing improvement” on this particular goal even though it is no longer a priority. While you know the goal is no longer a priority, if we’re supposed to be rating people on their performance and the goal is there in black and white on the agreed upon goals and you didn’t achieve your goal, then it is a need for improvement, right?

It’s all a disaster waiting to happen, all because there is a time limit on the goal and mitigating — if not game-changing — circumstances come along to blow this goal out of the water.

The only way solve this issue for your performance review is to systematically review your goals and performance with your manager and make adjustments. Quarterly at a minimum. Monthly is better. If you don’t, you will have hanging, uncompleted goals just waiting to have your fate decided by something out of your control.

Photo by raneko

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.

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