Small-business owners always can improve their leadership skills. Ken Blanchard’s theoretical approach to team development is called Situational Leadership II. Its objective is to help leaders tailor their management styles to their situations and staff, who always can and want to develop. To show leaders how to design quality goals, Blanchard uses the acronym SMART, which stands for specific and measurable, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable and time-bound.

Specific and Measurable

If your goals are too vague, your employees won’t know what good performance actually looks like. Specific and measurable goals set up firm criteria for achievement, clarifying exactly what you expect from your workforce. For example, a factory owner might present her workforce with quarterly agendas that include specific timelines for production goals.


Simply dropping an agenda in your employees’ laps won’t push them to be their best. That’s why you have to find ways to align their interests with your organization’s needs. Financial bonuses for timely completion of a project, for example, can motivate your staff to work harder and be more efficient. Blanchard also points out that sometimes employees just need to know the work they do makes a difference.


On the one hand, the goals you set have to challenge your employees, or they will bore quickly. On the other hand, setting the bar too high can discourage your workers, especially if they don’t believe they have any chance of succeeding. Attainable goals are team objectives that encourage your employees to fulfill their potential without pushing them too hard.


In Blanchard’s model of situational leadership, setting relevant goals depends on how well you apply the 80/20 rule, which says 80 percent of the performance you hope to extract from your team will result from 20 percent of their activities. In other words, setting relevant goals starts with identifying the most profitable uses of your employees’ time and then choosing objectives that focus on those activities.

Trackable and Time-Bound

Good record-keeping and regular performance evaluations allow you to monitor your team’s progress. Frequent performance checkups also are an opportunity to praise your employees’ hard work and motivate them to stay on track.