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Using SMART Goals to Improve Employee Productivity

Using SMART Goals to Improve Employee Productivity

Help your business smash its targets with SMART productivity goals that will boost business and employee engagement. 

Setting goals is one of the best ways to improve your business. From increased motivation and efficiency to improved employer-employee relationships, SMART goals are a great way to set achievable goals, hit your targets as a business, and make productivity skyrocket

Here at Handdy, we know the importance of setting and hitting your goals — just by writing your goals, you’re 33% more likely to achieve them — which is why we’ve put together this guide on SMART productivity. It gives you all the information you need, with productivity SMART goal examples, to start setting and smashing your targets.

What Are SMART Goals?

A SMART goal is a detailed target that can be used individually or by a business to set out precisely what you want to achieve in a certain period. SMART goals deliberately avoid generalized targets and focus on the development of clear and focused goals.

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. This method of setting goals was created by George T. Doran in 1981 in a paper called “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”. 

Since Doran created this goal system, countless businesses around the world have put it into place. SMART goals are a simple but highly effective method of planning employee training and development.  

Here’s our rundown of what each letter of the acronym stands for:


When you’re setting a goal, whether for yourself or an employee, it’s a good idea to be specific about what you want to accomplish. Take the time to think about what exactly you’re looking to achieve. A good way of pinning down what you want to achieve is to use the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why. 

  • Who will be involved in this goal?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Where is this goal going to be accomplished?
  • When do you want to hit your target?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?

It’s often the case that targets and goals are too vague, making them difficult to achieve. But by using the five “W” method, you can narrow down precisely what you want to accomplish with deadlines and actionable targets.


There’s no point in setting goals if you have no way of measuring them. Like the overall aims, you need to get specific about how you’re going to evaluate success. If you don’t set criteria, you’ll have no way of tracking how well you’re doing or knowing if you need to chain yourself to the desk or give yourself a pat on the back. 

There are a variety of ways to measure performance, such as:


If you’re setting goals that aren’t achievable, you’re setting yourself up for failure, and that’s one of the quickest ways to kill motivation and productivity. Setting attainable targets will help you figure out ways to realize the goals and work towards them. 

The whole point of setting SMART goals is to make sure that you’re not setting yourself up for failure and to challenge yourself or your team. If you’re a business owner, this means that you’ll need to find the middle ground between too easy and nearly impossible.

Setting achievable goals makes sure that everybody is motivated, and as a result, productivity will go through the roof. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for signs of employee disengagement so that you can adjust goals accordingly. 


Relevance refers to making sure that any set goals are in line with your business’s broader aims. You need to keep your SMART goals relevant to your business’s overall targets and understand how individual goals can positively impact the whole company. 

For example, if one of your products isn’t selling as well as you’d like it to, rather than aiming to get new products, set a SMART goal to improve the product’s sales. That way, you won’t be investing in new items while old stock isn’t selling. 

When considering this goal’s relevance, it’s worth thinking about: 

  • Pricing
  • Staff product knowledge
  • Marketing
  • Customer experience
  • Supply and demand.

By considering these, you can see what needs to be improved and make sure that any goals set are relevant.


Deadlines can be great motivators, but only if they’re reasonable. Creating a sense of urgency for a task means that your employees will make sure that projects for a specific goal are completed on time, so the overall productivity of your staff will increase. 

But it’s essential to make sure that any deadlines are reasonable to complete the work in the time given. Giving impossible deadlines will cause stress and demotivate employees.

What Is SMART Productivity?

Productivity can be measured by how successful we are at reaching our goals. But if you set vague goals, it can be challenging to work out how productive you really are. With SMART productivity, you can drastically improve your productivity and ensure that you’re achieving your goals. 

See Also

To show how SMART goals can help you, we’ve put together a couple of productivity SMART goal examples. 

Productivity SMART Goal Example 1:

Our first example will look at the goal of improving your performance. While this is a worthwhile goal, it’s vague, and therefore, unattainable. But if we apply the SMART goals formula, we can give it clarity and make it achievable. 

  • Specific: During my last performance review, I received negative feedback on my ability to use Microsoft Excel. I would like to be more proficient in Excel by the time of my next performance review, in three months. I need to improve my skills by learning how to use Excel more efficiently and practice by creating spreadsheets, pivot tables, and graphs. 
  • Measurable: By the time of my next performance review in three months, I want to be able to create pivot tables, remove duplicates, sort data and know all essential maths functions. I should be able to do this in good time and create templates that my coworkers can use easily.  
  • Achievable: To move forward in my career, I need better performance reviews. To do this, I need to improve my Excel skills and achieve this by setting time aside each week to watch Excel tutorials, complete an online course and ask my coworkers for advice.  
  • Relevant: Working with Excel is currently a minor part of my job, but it will increase as I move up the company. For me to grow within the company and develop my career, I need to improve my Excel skills.  
  • Timely: In three months, I should be able to use Excel efficiently and make sure that it doesn’t take up more of my time than it should. 

As you can see, by following the SMART formula, our goal is now more detailed and gives clear, actionable information so that it can be achieved and productivity can be measured.

Productivity SMART Goal Example 2:

Our second example will look at the goal of completing a project. Again, this goal is vague and unattainable. Here’s how the SMART formula can give it clarity and make it achievable.


  • Specific: Customer feedback has shown that our customers would like us to have a way to order online. Our current website is informational and doesn’t allow customers to order through it, so I want to launch an eCommerce site to give customers the option of ordering online. I want to launch this site by the end of Q3, and it will involve web design/development, copywriting, and graphic design.  
  • Measurable: Creating an eCommerce site will require a lot of resources. To be worthwhile, I’d like to have 300 orders within three months of launching the new website. 
  • Achievable: Different departments will be involved in the creation of the eCommerce site. I will need to manage the project and make sure to set deadlines and milestones to keep everybody on track and motivated. 
  • Relevant: Improving our website and allowing customers to order online is a crucial initiative for my company this year.  
  • Timely: For our eCommerce website to be a success and achieve 300 orders within the first three months, the website will need to launch by the end of Q3, with a strong marketing campaign.

Once you have thoroughly reviewed your goals with each SMART characteristic, you’ll be able to go through them to combine and condense them. 

Why Is SMART Productivity Important?

SMART productivity and goals are great for personal and professional development and for both individuals and businesses. As a business owner, you can set specific goals that will benefit the entire organization and allow your business to grow. 

Setting SMART goals for your employees will improve their productivity and engagement, reaching new personal and professional heights. 

When managing employee SMART productivity goals, don’t forget to make the most of the technology available. Handdy Timesheets can help you monitor and boost performance, increase flexible working opportunities, and improve employee satisfaction and engagement as a result. Sign up for a free trial today to enhance the performance of your team.