SMART Goal Setting

SMART goal setting provides structure to the specific tasks, projects or ideas we want to accomplish.  It creates a path to accomplish objectives with clear milestones and action items that can be tracked and measured.   SMART goal setting also creates transparency throughout the process of creating goals, making sure that both supervisor/chair and staff member are clear on expectations and ways in which success in accomplishing a goal will be assessed.

The SMART acronym stands for:



What will be accomplished? What actions will you take?



How will the goal be measured? How much? How well?



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



Why is the result important?



What is the time frame for accomplishing the goal?


Instructions for creating SMART goals:

  1. Staff members identify goals they would like to work on, including opportunities for professional development, using the self-evaluation form.
  2. The evaluation includes a required goal for all staff members: Perform job duties and responsibilities as described in the job description.

  3. The supervisor/chair identifies up to four (4) individual goals for the coming evaluation period, including:
    • Contribution(s) towards department goals
    • Area(s) for professional growth (for example: leadership, public speaking, communication, technology, specialized skills, etc.)
    • Activities to support areas for professional growth (e.g. training, conferences, LinkedIn Learning, workshops, certifications, participation in committees or special projects, etc.)
    • Goals identified by the staff member in the self-evaluation form 

  4. The supervisor/chair and staff member discuss the goals and expectations during the evaluation discussion, and set a frequency to discuss progress.

  5.  Goals will be developed using the SMART criteria: 

    S – Specific – significant, well defined (who, what, where, when, which, why and how)

    M – Measurable – qualitative (can be described) or quantitative (can be quantified)

    A – Attainable – achievable, acceptable

    R – Relevant – realistic, reasonable

    – Trackable – time-bound

  6.  Examples of SMART goals include:
    • Research best practices for orientation programming and develop a schedule of events by the end of March.
    • Ensure a smooth transition to the new building by coordinating moving services and related communications for staff, faculty and students.
    • Increase the number of visitor tours by 20% by the end of the academic year.
    • Meet weekly with staff members to discuss the status of projects and share information.
    • Attend training on creating pivot tables using Microsoft Excel by the end of March.
    • Evaluate current inventory and use of supplies, and create a plan to reduce costs and minimize waste.
    • Proactively prepare materials in advance of committee meetings, and make sure that the room is ready for the meeting at the designated time.

  7. Tips for goals assessment and monitoring:
    • Make sure goals are clear - You may find that you have more clarity after goals are outlined and discussed. Thinking about the big picture is important, especially with long-term goals. If you are not clear about a goal or specific action item, seek clarification.
    • Keep track of progress - Just as it is important to put the goals in writing, it is equally important to track progress. This can be done by using a goal tracking worksheet, an outline or a checklist. The key is to regularly check-in on progress and take note of current status vs desired end result.  Consider establishing a frequency, for example, weekly, monthly, every three months, etc.
    • Break them down – We can make goals more attainable and realistic by breaking them down. A set of five smaller actions that will get to the goal can be more manageable and less overwhelming.
    • Get/provide support – Sometimes we need help to accomplish our goals. This could be training, resources or guidance.  If you need help, support, or just a cheerleader, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
    • Revisit and revise as needed - The mid-year check-in is the perfect time to discuss progress and consider revisions, as appropriate.
    • Stay positive - Positive thinking is a great motivator for achieving our goals. Take time to celebrate every milestone, no matter how big or small. It will build confidence and commitment, and make it easier to keep pushing to reach future goals.