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Thanks for the post.

I am not sure I agree with his calling SMART goals a bad idea. The Kennedy example is a good example in why goals need to be SMART.

"Kennedy's goal was clearly SMART. But was it wise?" Isn't that the same as saying "was it relevant"? Therefore, did it truly pass the SMART test?


Thanks for reading and sharing your comment. While not claiming to speak for Mr. Grote, a few thoughts back-

First of all, one of the issues with the SMART acronyn is that there are many different versions out there. Far be it from me to say which is the right version and which is not. But the version Dick is referencing takes the "R" in SMART to mean "realistic", not "relevant". So take his remarks from that point of view.

But further, I don't think I agree that relevant is the same as wise. Dictionary.com defines relevant as "bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent" and wise as "having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion." So a relevant goal is one pertinent or connected to the work at hand - not a tremendously high bar to cross. A wise goal is one which reflects discernment and judgment as to what is true or right - to my mind, a wholly different and much more challenging criteria.

At the end, I guess I'm still inclined to agree with Dick, that the SMART acronym is helpful in phrasing the goal well, but it does nothing to help you pick a goal that is smart in the first place.

Other opinions?

Disagree a tad. Approximate weighting percentages of performance objectives gives ees a rough idea of what is important to the company and how their accomplishments will be evaluated. They force supervisors to get specific as to how important various goals are and preclude surprises to ees when the evaluation is made and rendered. I agree that they should not be so specific that weighting them becomes unrealistic. The more objective the performance criteris are, the more valid and meaningful appraisals become.

Wonderful info from Ann and Dick.

Provocative post, Ann, thanks. I agree with your key points. The SMART goals discussion is interesting because it may depend on which of the more than 900 combinations of words used in various smart goal combinations you're talking about.

I disagree, though, with your second "self-evident truth," "Performance management will never be easy, comfortable or routine." I've observed too many good supervisors for who it is exactly that. In too many organizations, we don't select supervisors for their willingness to do it nor do we train them in the techniques that work.


Thanks for the comment - I think we're more in agreement than not. Signalling which objectives are most important = good. Breaking that down by assigning unrealistically specific percentages = bad. We should absolutely strive to bring rigor and objectivity to the process, but at the end of the day a meaningful appraisal requires the application of human judgment.


Only 900?

I find encouragement in your disagreement with the second truth - that there are supervisors out there who perform this key task well and are able to do so easily and comfortably. I am jaded by too many encounters with those who'll go to any lengths to avoid important but difficult conversations - glad your experience has shown you hope for the process!

I appreciate your blog. It is clear & concise giving very nice meaning. Performance Appraisal is very important for employees development. There must be appraisals round in every 6 months in every organization. This is to be prioritized very soon. Thanks for sharing this article.

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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