How to Set Goals for Your Employees with SMART Circles

How to Set Goals for Your Employees with SMART Circles

Posted by Richard Dimarco Barea on Dec 23, 2014


Management has always been known as "the art of getting things done through people." But make no mistake management is also a science that can be scaled through a defined process. Maximizing the process makes you the most 'effective' manager you can be yielding the best results by motivating your team. When initiating any new process you should think of the end first. Meaning if your goal is for your own team to be engaged and pro-active (don't we all) you must empower them to create their own goals through what we call a SMART meeting.

What is a SMART Meeting?

A SMART meeting is a a type of in-office 15 minute meeting where you and your team set goals for yourselves with the assistance of everybody in the team and check in on each other periodically to show support and encouragement. SMART meetings are also known as SMART circles as team members can form in the shape of a circle during their employee engagement sessions. The three times that SMART meetings should be held are on the 1st of the month, mid-month and end of the month. All team members get together in groups of no larger than 5 and create, evaluate and reward each other on their personalized SMART goals. You can download a smart goal template here.


1st of the Month

On the 1st workday of the month, bring the whole team into the room and assign them into groups of 5 (if you don't have that many employees groups of 2 or 3 will work as well). Hand out a SMART goal template to them and ask them all to write their 1 Smart Goal for the next 30 days. Make sure to insist that the a SMART goal has 5 components: specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and timely.

You can make copies of the "What is a Smart Goal" page in this free downloadable template so that your whole team is clear on what these 5 components mean.

Assign each person on the team one letter: S or M or A or R or T (if you have smaller circles you can assign multiple letters to an individual). For example, the person with the M will be a proponent for the 'measurable' factor of everybody's smart goals. Have 1 X person state their smart goal and have all the other assigned team members validate that it is in fact a SMART Goal. When everyone has validated their goals as a team you have done 3 things: empowered your team, engaged your team and created a commitment dynamic with each person in the team. Break after 15 minutes and tell everybody that they are going to review their 30 day Smart goal in 2 weeks and they should hold on to their SMART goal sheet.


Mid-Month Check Up

Two weeks after the initial meeting sit everyone in their SMART circle and ask everyone to remember their assigned letters. Then ask for volunteers and allow the first person to give a report on the progress of their smart goal. Allow each team member to ask questions (specific to their assigned letter) to the person who gave the progress. We call these SMART questions and examples of these are such as:

  • S: Is there any way to make your goal more specific?
  • M: How are you measuring performance?
  • A: Is the goal assignable just to you or do you see now it depends on others?
  • R: Do you think you shot too high or low? What is more realistic?
  • T: Do you think 30 days was too much or too little to achieve the goal?

When everybody in the SMART circle has had their chance to report and receive feedback from their team, make sure they each make any adjustments necessary to their SMART GOAL sheet. Finally, let them know they will have a final meeting to review the next two weeks progress on the last workday of the month.


End of Month Wrap-Up

Now that your team has had a full 30 days to execute their SMART goal invite them all in to the final SMART circle and have them repeat the process from the mid-month check-up. The most important part of this meeting is that you publicly recognize reward everybody who achieved their goal and encourage those who did not by telling them that they will get another chance at the beginning of the following month when you will repeat the whole process. Identifying those that achieved their goals with an Employee of the Month recognition award is a great way to close the meeting and get everybody excited for the next SMART circle.



Creating an environment that teaches your team how to create their own SMART goal at the beginning of the month, share their experiences & challenges half-way through and reward those who achieved their goals at the end of the month will allow you to have a highly engaged workforce. Offices with high level of employee engagement show increased employee productivity, inceesed sales, lower turnover and a great ol' efficient manager leading the team to success!

FREE SMART Goals Template [Download Now]

Topics: employee engagement, smart goals, holiday engagement

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