Getting Specific About Specifics

I am a major fan of SMART goals. There is a lot of debate over who coined the acronym. Personally – I’m just glad someone did!

There are several variations of the acronym, but the criteria generally are represented as:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant and
  • Timed

Learning to help your team set specific goals is one of the greatest strengths a supervisor or manager can bring to his or her team. Consider what happens when we don’t in the context of the goal of accomplishing daily work tasks. I say to an employee, “Can you get some paper from the copy room?” The employee goes to the copy room and brings me one piece of green paper. “No, I meant bring white paper.” The employee takes off again and shortly returns one piece of paper.” I then say, “No, I meant ten pieces of paper.”

As you can see, lack of specific instructions can lead to wasted time and energy while contributing to frustration and rework. How much of that would potentially be mitigated in the previous example if I had said, “Will you please bring me one ream of 8 ½ “ X 11” plain white copy paper from the copy room?” Obviously, I could have been even more specific, but you get the idea. I am not advocating micro-specifics, but certainly think it is important to speak as specifically as is reasonable.

This applies to all aspects of the workplace. Not only will speaking in specifics help establish clearer goals among supervisors and direct reports, asking for specifics will help with everything from providing excellent customer service to coaching and mentoring.

What about your own experiences? How have specific goals contributed to a more productive workplace?

Next week: measurable goals.

Happy Training!

Greg Anderson
Written by:
Greg Anderson
President of Online Learning, Strategic Government Resources
Follow Greg on Twitter!@SGRGreg

7 responses

  1. I find that setting expectations increases the level of performance. It also allows for others to ask better questions to clarify your needs/wants and craft a better plan of attack. One thing that being specific does is that it helps others come up with some amazing ideas. Once you have added your detail then it focuses the creativity is there is room for any at a specific target. Specifics also help people figure out how you think. As they become more familiar with your logic they can anticipate things that you like/expect/might be open to and incorporate that knowledge to boost performance.

    Being specific cuts down on the “surprises” when it comes time to evaluate performance our outcomes as well. How many times have we heard , “Ohhhhhhhh I thought you meant………” OR “But you didn’t say that…..” More great food for thought in how to communicate effectively.

    1. Wow. That’s some great input, Enna! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. […] In my last blog post, I noted that I am a fan of SMART goals. In case you missed it, SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, rational, and timed. […]

  3. […] looking at the SMART goals acronym, the “A” typically represents making sure work goals are attainable. That is wise counsel. If […]

  4. […] we noted in previous posts, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, and Attainable. In this tread, we note the importance of […]

  5. […] is the last post in a five-part series on SMART Goals. To review, we noted that goals should […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: