Feedback from the manager plays a vital role for an employee. Not only does regular feedback makes work more engaging and exciting, but it also assures employees that they’re moving forward. It gives them the chance to develop their potential to the fullest. Thus, an organisation must develop an effective feedback system.
SMART in the business world is the short form for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. It is a framework that companies use to set up goals for the company, teams, and individuals.
Setting a goal is easy, but it becomes difficult for businesses to track progress when the goal is not explained well. This is why the goal needs to be:
- Specific: A goal has to be specific. It should provide a clear understanding of what the individual or team should focus on achieving.
- Measurable: There should be a clear way to calculate the progress towards the goal.
- Achievable: The goal should be something that the team or individual can achieve.
- Relevant: The goal should be relevant to the business targets as well as the job of the individual.
- Time-Bound: There should be a clear timeline for when the goal should be achieved.
The same framework can also be applied while providing feedback to employees. Managers and the business usually provide employee feedback regularly; this ensures that employees understand how they are contributing to the end goal of the business. This feedback should ideally follow the SMART framework to ensure that employees clearly understand how they are performing and how they can contribute to the business goals better.
What are SMART feedbacks?
A framework that organisations have widely accepted is the SMART feedback framework. It helps managers to give feedback that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.
The goals must be specific; otherwise, they leave room for different interpretations by the employee and the manager. Specific goals will have no ambiguity and will be evaluated quickly.
Secondly, the plans should be such that they can be measured. This will easily tell the employee and the manager whether the goal has been achieved.
Next, always set goals that are challenging but at the same time attainable. Setting unrealistic goals will only disengage and demotivate the employee.
Moreover, the plans must align with the organisation's overall objectives. This will make the employee feel that his work is meaningful and contributes to the organisation's growth.
Finally, fix a timeline for each goal, which will act as a self-check for employees and help you give an objective assessment.
Managers should adopt the Smart feedback approach to improve transparency in the process and inform the employees where exactly they’re lacking.
Need for SMART employee goals
You cannot progress and grow without meaningful feedback in any sphere of life. The same is true for organisations. Smart goals allow for collaborative goal setting where each employee participates in the process. This enhances employee engagement and team alignment. When employees get involved in setting goals, they feel like a part of the organisation, and the organisation’s success feels like their own. They clearly understand their role and contribution to the team and the company. This understanding helps them in playing a valuable role in the company.
Smart goals can be categorised into personal and performance workplace goals.
- Personal goals
The personal goals can include bonding with colleagues, expanding skillsets and credentials, enhancing job performance and productivity and building a solid work ethic. These goals are about the overall growth and development of an individual employee.
- Performance goals
When you align your personal goals with the company’s objectives, they become performance goals. Some of the performance goals include:
1. Improving team coordination
2. Asking for feedback to provide better customer service
3. Be updated with the latest industry trends and innovations
4. Attending workshops, conferences and training sessions to gain industry knowledge
Methods of SMART employee feedback framework
Let’s look at five methods of smart employee feedback which follow the SMART framework:
1. Specific feedback
Provide specific feedback for people during their performance review.
Feedback that says, “You need to use more APIs to get work done faster” is not very specific and is vague.
Instead, say, “I noticed that you wrote the complete logic for an image converter in our last project; I think it would have saved you a lot of time if you had used an API to do this process.”
How you frame the feedback makes a world of difference.
2. Measurable feedback
When you give feedback, make sure it is supported by a metric. This will motivate your team to do better. When teams know they can measure the outcome, they perform better.
Saying “You've improved a lot,” while flattering, is not measurable.
You could rephrase this to say, “I noticed that you have closed 12% more sales than last quarter; keep up the great work.”
3. Achievable feedback
Give feedback that is achievable and can be worked on by the individual team member.
“You need to improve your speed on cash collection from customers,” is not achievable by a finance team member, as they might not have complete control over the cash collection process.
Be realistic and think about what would work for that particular teammate. Saying, “You need to have a regular catch up with the other departments to understand potential cash collection issues and report back on any potential risks, so we can all work together to improve the collection process” is more clear and potentially achievable for a person working in finance.
4. Relevant feedback
Feedback that is aligned to the overall strategic direction of the organization is more relevant to an employee. Failure to do so can lead to employees feeling demotivated and confused about their role.
Saying, “You sometimes choose to prioritize the easy tasks over the urgent ones” is neither specific, nor relevant to the organization's strategic direction. It's important to be mindful of this while asking your performance review questions.
But saying “One of your strongest moments this quarter was how you handled Project X. You showed how important user testing is in shaping a feature roadmap. Your work increased the likelihood of delighting our customers. I'd love to see you do more of this” is relevant for a teammate to work towards.
5. Time-bound feedback
Provide feedback at the right time.
The feedback that says, “I noticed this issue in the employee contract three months ago; you should have found it then and corrected it immediately,” is lousy feedback as it is delayed.
But if the same feedback was provided immediately where the manager said, “This contract has an issue, please correct it immediately before you send it to the new employee,” it is great feedback. It is crucial to provide continuous feedback at the right time to get better results.
Want to learn more about having effective feedback conversations with your employees? Check out our blog.
Steps to achieve SMART goals
The following steps will help you achieve SMART goals and deliver SMART feedback.
- Align the entire team
It is of primary importance that your team is on the same page and has the same understanding of the objectives to be achieved. Each member should know what they’re trying to do by executing a specific task. This clarity will help each member to understand their role and responsibility. Then only the team will be able to answer the expectations and be productive.
The team alignment can be achieved by regularly meeting and answering any member's doubts. Also, tracking the team's progress is essential to see if it is on the right track.
- Increasing the daily performance
Once your team understands the goals, you can increase the daily performance by a specific percentage that is achievable. This will challenge your team to push its limits constantly. A slight improvement every day will make a massive difference in the long term.
- Develop a responsible strategy
As a manager, you must assign an employee responsible for producing an impactful strategy to achieve a particular objective related to the employee’s area of expertise. This can deliver fantastic results as employees can focus on their area of interest and take specific initiatives.
- Create a collaborative schedule
You have to work together as a team. It is essential that everyone on the team is in sync and has a shared schedule to discuss relevant issues that need to be handled together.
- Define the metrics
Smart feedback is only possible when you have quantifiable metrics to measure employee performance. Define the metrics to make the review process transparent and set employee standards.
- Make changes based on feedback
Smart feedback is not only about giving feedback to employees but also about taking their opinion and making adjustments accordingly. What they feel, their ideas, and their grievances need to be considered to get the best performance from them.
SMART goals and SMART feedback are perfect ways to achieve excellent results for the employees and the organization in the long run.