SMART Goal Setting — Specific for Cubicle Warriors

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In goal setting, SMART goals rule. But for Cubicle Warriors, SMART goals often fail. The reason is that SMART goal setting is built for departments, divisions, or companies. They aren’t built for US.

Goals are important to all knowledge workers. They often determine your ratings come review time. Goals are supposed to help focus on your work and how it contributes to the overall work of the company.

Yet how many of you know how to set goals that are meant for you?

Let’s look at the SMART system for setting goals — but this time, let’s look at them for how YOU need to have them set up and work.

The first part of SMART is the “S” which stands for “specific.”

One typical definition of specific:

Specific in the context of developing objectives means that an observable action, behavior or achievement is described which is also linked to a rate, number, percentage or frequency.

Here is a very specific goal, often found in knowledge workers goals for their review:

Reduce and meet the year-over-year budget decrease of 2%.

This goal is very specific. There will be very observable actions and behavior that will be done to reduce expenses by 2%, the “linked to rate” number.

This typical goal has a big problem, though, with people who work in cubes: you have very little, if any, control over the budget. The goal is not “specific” to YOU, only — at best — to your manager.

For most cubicle warriors, there are only four ways to impact the budget: not ask for or get a raise/bonus, don’t travel, don’t take training that costs money, or use any office supplies.

Having this goal in your goals for your rating means you have no control over meeting this objective, yet, you will be judged on how well you do to meet the goal.

A no win situation.

When reviewing your goals, your first step in the SMART process is to ensure the goals are specific — for YOU. Not for the department, not for the division, not for the company, but are specific to what you can control in your work.

If you can’t control the outcome of a goal through your work, the goal isn’t specific and not SMART.

  • […] also added a good amount to the meaning for readers of this site by looking at how each part – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound – can be better tailored for those of us […]

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