Un-SMART objectives?

Done your appraisal reviews and personal goal setting for 2013 yet?  Got your five SMART objectives for yourself and all your team?  Well don’t.  For the evidence is mounting that the downsides of over-prescriptive goal-setting outweigh the potential benefits.

Professor Max Bazerman, reporting on recent Harvard University research, records the negative effects of the SMART process which many of us will have witnessed, including “a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behaviour, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation”.  The researchers’ conclusion is that “rather than dispensing goal setting as a benign, over-the-counter treatment for motivation, managers and scholars need to conceptualize goal setting as a prescription-strength medication that requires careful dosing, consideration of harmful side effects, and close supervision”.

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