Conducting SMART(er) Performance Reviews

SMART GoalsEstablishing goals for future performance is an important element of the annual performance evaluation process. In broad terms, goals should be SMART, manageable in quantity (e.g. 4–6 per year) and address both business/career outcomes and personal development.

Do you adhere to SMART goals during your performance reviews?

It’s important for you and your employees to be on the same page and to have shared expectations. To do this, ensure that performance goals that you develop during reviews contain all components of the SMART acronym:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Why are SMART Goals Essential to Team Success?

Because of their specificity and concrete detail, SMART goals provide employees with clear expectations and accountability—a roadmap for success! They can be monitored regularly and there’s no question as to whether or not the employee achieved them. They give employees and managers something to work with during future check-ins or performance reviews.

What are the Components of a SMART Goal?

As with any review system (whether annual, semi-annual or any other frequency), SMART goals should be set and discussed by both the employee and their manager.


The more detailed the area, the more refined the goal can be. In order to do this, answer these questions:

  • Who is involved in the goal?
  • What action or inaction does the goal pertain to?
  • What do we want accomplished by the goal?
  • What is the purpose of the goal?


Quantifying goals provides specific ways to track progress against objectives. Measurable goals make it easy to benchmark performance throughout the goal period, including areas to improve.


Set goals that can be completed in the designated period of time. Consider a balance between meaningful improvement and the reasonableness of success. Often, these goals may act like stepping stones to help meet broader goals that further define position/career advancement.


The best way to evaluate the relevancy of a goal is to consider the purpose of setting the goal. If the goal relates to its purpose, it is relevant and thus more likely attainable.


When should this goal be achieved? Specify the exact date. Establishing time parameters around each goal increases focus and accountability.

Learn more tips for conducting effective performance reviews >>