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Goal Setting

Goal Setting in Career Pathway

Goal Setting in Career Pathway Course

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Using the SMART Acronym

An important part of performance development is establishing goals for the performance cycle. The purpose of setting these goals is not to detail your daily activities, but to help you define larger challenges that you will work toward. To ensure that professional staff members write effective goals, Drexel encourages the use of the SMART format. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Ambitious and Achievable
  • Results-based
  • Time-bound

Creating SMART goals helps you and your manager clearly understand what you will accomplish during the performance cycle. Here are some ways to integrate SMART into your goal-setting process.


The goal should define specific results and provide concrete details on what is to be achieved. For example, "Start writing a monthly department newsletter" is more specific than "Improve inter-department communication."


When writing the goal, define how you and your manager can measure its success. There are several ways to measure goals:

  • Behavior: An observable change in a professional staff member's actions
  • Quantity: A numerical increase or decrease
  • Quality: How well the result meets the criteria defined in the goal
  • Cycle time: Time from request to completion; processing time
  • Efficiency: Resources (time, budget, people) applied to achieve the result

Ambitious and Achievable

Goals should be challenging and go beyond your day-to-day duties, but they should also be achievable.


When writing goals, state the results to be achieved rather than the activity or work processes leading to those results. Focus on what you are responsible for accomplishing.


Establish a time limit. State the due date for these results, or for ongoing expectations, specify how often the goal or expectation must be met as well as how often it will be reviewed.

Performance Goals vs. Development Goals

Performance Goals

Performance goals are what you are working to accomplish. They are tied to departmental and/or organizational strategic priorities. Below is an example of a performance goal:

Billing Management

Implement an enhanced billing management process through web-based technology by April 30. Develop a master design document and create stakeholder buy-in and awareness. Ensure functionality of system and a new interface. Develop the communication and implementation plan for the new process by the end of September. Ready for delivery in mid-October.

Development Goals

Development goals focus on areas you want to develop in order to grow in your job or advance in your career. Below is an example of a development goal:

Public Speaking

To increase my effectiveness in giving presentations, I will join Toastmasters by March 31 and attend at least 6 monthly meetings by the end of the year. I will ask Ted Thomas to provide feedback using the Toastmasters format on my presentations after each staff meeting during the year.