Establishing specific goals and a plan to achieve those goals encourages enhanced performance and business results that bring value to an organization. Integrating SMART goals into an action plan requires confirming that the goals are (S) specific, (M) measurable, (A) attainable, (R) realistic and (T) timely. According to the research performed by Dr. Maxwell Malz, it takes 21 days for an implemented goal to become a habit. If managers focus on two goals each month throughout a one year period, they can actually accomplish twenty-four goals in a year. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Getting Started

Document the six primary functions of management.

Construct an action plan for management skills that which includes incorporating the concepts of strategic planning, task management, production, development of others, personal development, and communication.

Brainstorm specific goals within each primary function area. This is best accomplished with a team of managers. Support the notion that no idea is a bad idea. If done correctly, the brainstorming process should elicit a plethora of ideas to explore. Focus on listing the goals, not judging them. Everyone involved should contribute to the brainstorming process.

Use a large tablet such as a flip chart and write the individual management concepts on separate pages and hang each page on the wall. For instance, write "strategic planning" at the top of a flip chart page, then, put "task management" on another page, and so on with production, development of others, personal development, and communication.

Instruct managers to write each goal on a sticky note and attach each of these notes to the page under the corresponding management topic. Review all of the goals and determine which of them support the organization's strategic direction. Eliminate the goals that don't support the overall organizational goals.

Select one goal per category. This entails each manager selecting an applicable goal in each category. Selecting only one will increase the probability for a successful action plan implementation.

Ask the question: What will it take to attain your goal? At this point, each manager documents what it will take to accomplish her identified goals in each category. This sets the stage for creating the action plan utilizing the SMART goal methodology.

Creating the Action Plan Using SMART Goals

Set SPECIFIC goals.

In each of the six management goals, review the goal in each category to ensure that it is specific, clear, concise, and actionable. Confirm that the goals have action words that state what will be done, how it will be done, and what will be accomplished. Then, establish the action steps required to meet each of the goals.


Each of the specific goals in each category should be able to be measured by organizational standards. This includes defining how you will know when the goal is attained. Typically, what does not get measured does not get done. A goal statement that reads, "I want to be a good manager," is not measurable compared with, "Employee performance reviews will be conducted quarterly and performance progress will be measured."


Ensure that the action items developed to support each management goal are attainable. This includes assessing if upper management will support the endeavors philosophically and financially. Without support, it is unlikely that the goal will be attained. You will also need to perform a baseline assessment of managers to determine the current skill level to help establish if the competency exists to attain the goals and if not, what skills are needed to accomplish the goals. Therefore, you compare the current performance to the expected performance.

Set REALISTIC goals.

List the actions required in each category to achieve the management goals. Assess other current project demands and determine the reality of accomplishing the goal. For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal to create a communication plan and communicate with employees one time per month versus one time per day.

Set TIMELY goals.

Determine and document the time frame required to complete each of the actions listed in each category. Setting a time frame will create the foundation of a road map for completion. Making a commitment with each of your goals establishes a clear vision of what you want to achieve and when you are going to achieve it. Create a time line or project plan that includes all of the target dates. This will motivate results and finality.