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SMART Goals for Managers and Leaders

Setting SMART goals for managers and for your team is an easy exercise to promote strategic alignment and motivation.

There are many different types of effective leadership styles that get results. No matter what type of a manager you are, you're responsible for motivating your team and improving your team's performance. You'll also need to refine your own leadership skills which should be SMART goals for managers themselves.

Goal setting is all about defining a strategic plan and pulling together to achieve it. This means that you'll be setting goals for your team, for individuals within your team and for yourself as a manager. Putting in the effort to clearly construct these goals before you launch into work will make sure your full team is strategically aligned and working efficiently on what really matters.

What are SMART goals?

The SMART attributes help you to create and develop clear, inspiring goals. SMART stands for:

Specific: a concise target that focuses on just one area of achievement. Specific goals are written simply. They should be immediately understood by anyone reading the goal without any specialised knowledge of your field.

Measurable: a clear metric for tracking progress and identifying when you'll have achieved your goal. Measurable attributes define exactly how much you need to attain or improve by.

Achievable: the goal is realistic given your resources, time and tools. Stretch goals are fantastic and you should set challenges, but creating completely impossible targets will set you up for failure.

Relevant: this goal is worthwhile and important to yourself, your team and your organization.

Time-Bound: a clear target for achieving the goal. Time-boxing your goal is crucial for proper planning.

smart goals for managers defined


Learn more about how SMART goals were developed and why they're an amazing driver of performance with our Essential Guide to SMART Goals.


What are the areas of focus of SMART goals for managers?

Studies have shown that people who design goals that are both specific and challenging achieve higher performance 90% of the time. Some of the common goals that managers need to focus on are:

Team targets. Everyone's job contributes to the overall company success. Defining these as clear targets aligned to broader team, department and company objectives ensures relevance and a clear link to business growth.

Communication skills both for yourself and within the team. Developing clear communication that works for your team's style will take 90% of the stress out of your day. It might involve a weekly planning meeting to distribute the workload, or it might mean absolutely no meetings at all and rather a daily write-up from each individual of what's been done and what's outstanding.

Autonomy and self-leadership. Develop autonomous team members who can trust their own judgement and run with an idea without being micromanaged.

Training and support. Upskilling within your job is deeply motivating and keeps you engaged with your organization. Define where your direct reports want to go and how you can support them with your own knowledge and experience.

Recognition. Small rewards and genuinely constructive feedback both increases team engagement and keeps your team on track for success.


Examples of SMART goals for managers

Download our SMART goals template to quickly and effectively set up your individual and team objectives.

You'll start by writing down your initial goal, then expand on it using the SMART attributes. Below are two examples of great SMART goals for managers.

Initial goal: "I want to improve team communication"

Specific: Introduce individual daily write-ups shared on Slack.

Measurable: Reduce the amount of time spent on clarification questions in the weekly team meeting by 50%.

Achievable: 5 focused minutes per individual per day is achievable within everyone's job scope.

Relevant: Improving team efficiency and communication increases motivation within the team and the business as a whole.

Time-bound: 50% reduction in meeting time wasted by the end of the quarter.

SMART goal: Introduce individual daily write-ups to be shared on Slack to reduce by 50% the amount of time spent on questions in the weekly team meeting, by the end of this quarter.


Initial goal: "I want to inspire and motivate my team"

Specific: Introduce a recognition programme to motivate the team to achieve their goals and improve team morale.

Measurable: 25% improvement in team sentiment between Q2 and Q4's pulse surveys.

Achievable: Encourage a culture of feedback and collaboration using a quick and easy recognition system.

Relevant: Motivated team members will be more productive and more willing to share constructive feedback going forward.

Time-bound: Improvement within the 6 months between the start of Q2 and the end of Q4.

SMART goal: Introduce a recognition programme to motivate the team and improve morale by 25% by the end of Q4, as measured in the quarterly pulse surveys.

smart goals template word

Approaching your leadership skills as SMART goals ensures that you are clear about your intentions and direct in how you want to achieve them. It sets a great precedent for your employees' own goals and will help you further to set clear goals for your team.

Kylie Strickland

Kylie Strickland

Customer Success Manager

4 minute readPublished on August 16, 2019

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