Are your SMART Goals still relevant?

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jun 16

Towers Perrin surveys employees on their engagement, satisfaction and productivity. If you want to see how hard times hit employees, you can see the answers from the results, this time in Forbes. Basically, employees are “more engaged than contented, and unlikely to leave even if they have no confidence in their employers (emphasis added).”

The study also notes that understanding of department goals fell from 83% to 71%. So over a quarter of employees (in a significantly downsized economy) don’t have an understanding of the goals in the department they work.

That’s dangerous, not only for employees, but to the success of the business.

SMART Goals need continued relevancy

Business conditions are different now than they were at the beginning of the year and they are radically different than what they were last year. Yet, too often, the SMART goals management and employees set up languish in desk drawers until the dreaded performance review. And when revealed, the goals unsurprisingly show no relevance to the work environment in play.

SMART goals, after all, are supposed to be SMART, including the “R” for relevant.

Management and employees are responsible for SMART goal attainment

While most would blame management for not updating goals, the employee is just as responsible. If your goals are the most important tasks worked on the job, then not working on them means you are working on something less important to the department. And if your manager keeps giving you work not related to your goals, you need to have a discussion about the priorities you have.

If those priorities don’t match up with your goals, your goals need changing to keep them relevant to the work environment going on right now.

Management is responsible for changing the goals

If you’ve had the discussion with your manager about your goals not matching up with your work anymore and your management is unwilling to modify them, it tells you a great amount about your management team.

When you work on stuff not related to your goals and management isn’t willing to modify your goals to reflect the change, you are in a no-win situation. Essentially, you can’t work on achieving your goals and your manager keeps giving you stuff not related to your goals. Come performance review time, you have a high risk of being rated poorly for not achieving your goals because goal attainment is what counts in performance reviews.

Unchanging goals is not realistic

If your management team can’t figure out with you a way to structure your goals to stay relevant to the business, you are at sea with no life jacket. The risk of staying and the risk of leaving now become closer to even.

After all, SMART goals are all about identifying results and accomplishments. If your management team isn’t willing to address the most important results and accomplishments, you have to wonder what they are managing.

And Cali and Jodi have a good theory as to what that managing philosophy is in their article What Hard Times Reveal.

How difficult has it been to change your goals this year?

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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.