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Creating Common Goals: SMART Goals

Creating Common Goals: SMART Goals

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Recognize key aspects of SMART goals.

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what's covered
This lesson introduces team goals and the process of creating team goals. Why is a goal important? Are there types of goals? What are SMART goals? How are goals created? What is a team charter? You will learn the answers to these question by covering:
  1. Importance of Goals
  2. Types of Goals
  3. SMART Goals
  4. Team Charter
  5. Role Development

1. Importance of Goals

Imagine two sides of a fence. On one side you have clear communication and on the other side, unclear communication.

When we have clear communication, everyone is in alignment with the team. They're all moving as a focused unit with teamwork.

Each is committed with purpose to the goal. They're accountable. They trust each other. They're all moving forward to the same place.


What happens when communication is unclear? Well, you start to see people scattered a little bit. The effectiveness is decreased. The commitment to the team has decreased.

You may find some conflict between the team members, because they're just unclear as to what each person's roles and responsibilities are and how they interrelate. Team members may draw different conclusions as to what the most desirable outcome may be. They're not sure where their priorities lie. People get a little off track. There is decreased effectiveness and commitment to the team. As you can see, the goal tends to get lost with unclear communication. File:606-importance_20of_20goals_20(3).png

Let's move on to types of goals. They may be short-term, medium-term, or long-term, but one consistently builds to another.

2. Types of Goals

A goal always supports the one above it. A short-term goal always supports a medium-term goal. A medium-term goal always supports a long-term goal. Long-term goals always support even longer-term or permanent goals.

Goals exist at every level of an organization. There are personal goals, role goals, team goals, department goals, and organizational goals. You can see that individual goals--whether personal, role-based, team-based, departmental, or organizational--all build on each other. File:607-Individual_20Goals.png

It's a balance between the strengths of the individuals, their responsibilities, and their roles to achieve that long-term, medium-term, or short-term goal.

Once goals are defined, established, and clearly communicated, assignments for the responsibilities are communicated. This is when the goals become interdependent.

did you know
There is a difference between role and personal goals. Role goals are very narrow and specific. Personal goals are all the goals for an individual. These include goals that lead to personal and professional development.

The team needs to look at the personal and role goals. What are the strengths of the individuals on the team? Who can be brought up for the specific goal of the team? Role responsibilities can influence the team goals.


Someone higher up in the organization or the department may say, listen, your team comprises a great amount of strength that we need for this particular goal. Therefore, role goals can influence or define higher-level, long-term goals. Team goals can influence personal goals.

big idea
Goals are interdependent. It's all about balance. They influence and impact each other.

This is where performance evaluations come into play. There may be more focus placed on role goals. There may be an expectation of working together with other people on the team as well, which also develops a team goal.

did you know
Expectations should be set before the evaluation. This should not come as a surprise about role, personal, or even team goals. Clear communication comes into play even when discussing employee evaluations.

So I want to introduce you to another type of goal, SMART goals. These are the characteristics we want to include in our goals whenever possible. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-phased. These are the characteristics we'd like to see in our goals.

3. SMART Goals

SMART goals are: File:608-SMART.png Specific: Without specific communication, goals become unclear. As you saw earlier in this tutorial, team members may draw different conclusions when things are unclear. They're not very sure about the priorities, and it may lead to conflict.

Measurable: If you don't have measurable results, there's a lack of accountability.

Action-oriented: You have to put forth the effort and the action that's required of the goal. Otherwise, there's a lack of progress.

Realistic: You want to set realistic goals. No one likes being set up to fail. If the goals are not realistic, the team members start to feel overwhelmed and a little lost.

Time-phased: If you do not set up deadlines along the way, you risk missing targets and, ultimately, that final deadline or goal that was set in place.

Take a look at an example: File:609-ex1.png You can see here the SMART goal written out. It's very specific. The measurable aspect of this specific statement': is two workshops. The action-oriented statement is: "I will attend." (Note: this is not "should attend" or "like to attend," it is "I will attend.") It is realistic, and of course, time-phased, because this will be done by November 10th.

Take a look at another example: File:610-ex21.png

think about it
What is wrong with the statement: "I need to get healthy in time for the high school reunion on August 15th"?

There is no measurable result. How will I know if this is successful? This missing element would impact the team, and the team would not know whether it was successful or not. Because of the missing information in the specific statement, this goal cannot be called realistic.

How can you rewrite this to make it a SMART goal? File:611-ex2.png

This version is measurable. "Eight pounds" and "three times a week" can be tracked. It will be very clear if you are not meeting these measurable results. This statement is also action-oriented, realistic, and time-phased.

4. Team Charter

The team charter is a document that lists out certain aspects of a team. It starts off with the team purpose, which is an explanation of why the team is coming together. It answers questions such as whether this is just a problem-solving team. Is there an endpoint? What are the goals?

In this document there will be a list of team goals, objectives, and any deliverables that need to be produced, along with any metrics. You want to make sure that everything is measurable.

Questions a team charter should answer:

  • What are the role goals for each team member?
  • Do we need management?
  • Who has authority to sign off on what approvals?
  • How will the various roles come together?
  • Are there any constraints for any roles?
  • What are the resources (time, money, materials) needed to get the job done?
  • What are the operations of this team?
  • What processes will be put in place as you track the process?
It is important that all members come together and sign off on this. This charter may be very high level, or it may be very detailed.

did you know
A very detailed charter may take a long time to develop, so it may not prove to be efficient for most teams.

5. Role Development

There are many ways to establish team goals. Take a look at this image of two different scenarios. File:612-GoalRoles.png

On one side, you have the team around a table. This is more of a democratic process. There may be someone mediating and taking notes about individual goals. Everyone is contributing to the goal.

This really helps solidify their commitment and their purpose. It increases buy-in for the goal as well as an understanding of their responsibilities and their roles. When goals are passed down from leadership without a discussion, team members may disagree with it, and they may not execute the goal as intended. The roles aren't as clear.

What is the importance of goals? It prevents people from drawing different conclusions and prevents the conflict that might result. Are there types of goals? You learned about the short-term, the medium-term, and the long-term. You also learned about personal goals; role goals; team, department, and organizational goals, and how they all impact each other. What are SMART goals? This stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-phased. What is a team charter? You learned about this document that can be very high level or very detailed. Finally, what did you learn about role development? You learned about the team coming together to generate ideas about their own purpose and their own personal goals and role goals.