SMART Objective Setting for Managers by Irial O'Farrell

  • Print Length 😕180 pages
  • Publication Date 😕September 27, 2020
  • Word Wise 😕Enabled
  • File Size 😕2604 KB
  • Language: 😕English


As a manager, what’s your number one pet peeve about one of your team members? I bet it’s something like “he’s too slow” or “she keeps nattering on and on and on”. Or how about “if he asks me that same question one more time, I’ll…”? These are what we call “behavioural” performance issues and this is where most managers struggle in developing their team members.

You rarely hear a manager’s pet peeve as “I wish he’d learn more of the technology” (a knowledge issue) although you might often hear “I wish he’d remember what he’s been shown and use it again”(a knowledge retention and application issue). Performance issues more commonly focus on “how” something is being done, rather than the “what” is being done.

Many managers struggle with articulating the behaviour and why it’s not working, let alone trying to translate it into a SMART objective. So, oftentimes, it gets brushed under the carpet and the team soldiers on. This stoicism results in the staff member not pulling their weight or getting the opportunity to develop, the rest of the team having to compensate, the manager’s focus stepping down, to deal with the knock-on impacts. Everyone is slightly (or a lot) behind and nobody is really benefiting. There’s no win-win here.

But what if there was an alternative? What if there was a book that dissected the SMART tool and explained how to use it more effectively with another person? What if there was a framework that enabled you to articulate the impact of the unhelpful behaviour? What if you understood how to design an objective that really held someone accountable for developing a behaviour that enhanced their performance and, by implication, your team’s performance and your own performance?

Such a book has arrived. With over 20 years of developing high performing teams and managers, Irial O’Farrell has watched managers struggle with objective setting – behavioural and other objective types – and has run dozens of SMART Objective Setting workshops. Participants walk away with confidence in being able to design effective SMART objectives, including behavioural objectives.

So, with a pause due to Covid19, she decided to, once again, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and shares her insights, which include:

– Relationship between Job Descriptions and Performance Management
– Limitations of using SMART with another person
– 4 Different types of performance objectives
– How to set a tangible behavioural SMART objective
– Understanding the employee’s expectations and assumptions
– Understanding your own performance mindset, as a manager
– Preparing for and conducting objective setting meetings

The proposed approach works in conjunction with any performance management system in place. If you don’t have a formal process, this is just a more effective way of setting objectives.

What if you’re thinking “I’m not a manager. Is this book for me?” Well, I’ll share a little secret with you. Several of my beta readers felt that all employees would benefit from reading this book. Why? If you read this book, you will understand the assumptions that are made that render some objectives dead upon arrival i.e., the objective is doomed before you’ve even left the room. This information will allow you to ask questions that prompt a proper discussion of what is really meant by the objective, allowing you to shape it into a realistic objective that you are likely to benefit from, both in the short-term and in your career, over the longer-term.