Why Your SMART Goals Template is Derailing Employee Productivity

Why-Your-SMART-Goals-Template-is-Derailing-ProductivityYou have your pick of SMART goals templates to share with employees, and for the most part, they’re all the same, including the template provided here. But despite following all the best practices on how to set goals, your SMART goals template can still fail employees, completely derailing productivity instead of doing what you want — maximizing employee performance.

So, as you ask employees to fill out your SMART goals template, keep these hazards in mind, so employee goals work for you instead of against you.


Need help defining your goal philosophy? Read our Power Workbook for Setting Employee Goals and OKRs.


Hazard #1: Checking All the Boxes

A SMART goals template provides five goal criteria: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. But what if an employee’s goal doesn’t quite fit this framework? Don’t let employees spin their wheels trying to check every box on the template. Allow for some flexibility, so they can move from goal writing to goal chasing.


Hazard #2: Playing It Safe

The third component of a SMART goal is that it’s attainable. The idea of setting realistic goals is well intended: Being realistic means employees are more likely to attain a goal, and when people meet their goals, it keeps motivation up. If goals are set too high, employees can become discouraged. However, on the other end of the spectrum, setting attainable goals can result in employees playing it safe. If they fear the failure of not achieving a goal, they might not stretch to their full potential.


Hazard #3: Ignoring the Past

While a SMART goals template can provide great guidelines for creating new goals, it misses one of the most important steps in goal setting: looking back. This is why some have added evolved SMART goals into SMARTER goals, where the “E” stands for evaluate and the “R” stands for “Rework.” What goals were set last month, last quarter, or last year? What were the results? Answering these questions can inform the goals created and make the goal-setting process more efficient.


Hazard #4: Speaking a Different Language

A SMART goals template outlines all the components of a well written goal; however, simply including the five criteria doesn’t ensure that the goal is well written. If the goal is full of jargon, acronyms, or lingo not widely understood, this can create confusion and waste time. It might seem trivial, but an essential part of creating goals the transparency it provides the rest of the organization. If the goal uses language that’s uncommon or unclear, it can alienate team members who aren’t in the know. Use clear and concise language to ensure team members can easily and quickly understand one another’s goals.


Hazard #5: Lacking Passion

By definition, a SMART goal is relevant, meaning it’s worthwhile. But is it exciting? Is it motivating enough to get someone up in the morning? Granted, not all work is 100% fulfilling all of the time, but if employees don’t have goals they are passionate about, they can lose focus and interest, making goals all the less attainable. A goal fueled by passion safeguards productivity.


Hazard #6: Setting Not Tracking

A SMART goals template is simply a starting point. It helps in the process of goal setting, but what about tracking progress and making adjustments as needed? At some point, one must move beyond goal setting to goal achieving. If you’re tracking goals with an employee engagement software like Quantum Workplace, employees can share achievements and setbacks in real time, so managers can stay on top of progress, drive productivity, and adapt in the moment.


Don’t let these scenarios put a wrench in SMART goal setting. Use your SMART goals template, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it will foolproof your goals. smart-goals-template