Seven Questions to Ask Your Team when Achieving a SMARTER Goal

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Have you ever joined on a team and thought: “Why am I doing all the work?” or, “Why am I here? There’s no room for me to contribute.”

Teams are tricky. It takes thoughtful planning and a deliberate approach to cultivate a valuable team product—whether that means working family to host a birthday party or producing an annual report with work colleagues. A team achieves its best when members follow a SMARTER goal.

A SMARTER goal approach is based on a philosophy outlined in my post on SMART Goals. While a SMART goal works well for individuals, we need SMARTER goals for teams: Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-bound, Equitable, and Responsibility-based. Why the extra E-R? A team that equitably shares the responsibility of a goal is following a shared leadership model. It has been found to be successful in many different contexts. SMARTER goals are:


A goal that is 100% clear to all team members will create a team that works together to achieve them. All team members must be able to visualize your outcome.

Ask the team: What does a desired outcome looks like to you?


The team must be able to measure outcomes, so you know when the goal has been met.

Ask the team: How do we know that the goal has been met? How will we measure this?


A goal cannot be reached without taking action. Identify the specific actions individuals must take to achieve the measured outcome.

Ask the team: What must happen to make this outcome a reality?


A goal must matter to each team member, and align with your overarching mission. This helps team members see the value of their contributions. Don’t have a mission? Define an overarching vision before you begin the planning process.

Ask the team: How is our goal aligned with our mission? How are these actions valuable to you?

T-Time bound

A goal cannot be reached without a timeframe. A timeline brings together all individual actions to reach a goal.

Ask the team: When must we complete each action step? Which steps must be completed before other tasks can begin?


A goal is reached when all team members own action steps. Establish expectations as early as possible, and spread tasks equitably among team members. Just as a soccer team consists of a striker, center, and goalie, each team member should choose the actions that fit their expertise. Assignments help members feel valuable. People join a team to make a contribution—a member without a task is like a soccer player without a position.

Ask the team: Who will undertake this task?


A clear accountability system is key for a successful team environment. Identify how frequently members will be asked to report on the status of their adopted actions. Make your goal a standing agenda item during weekly team meetings. Or, ask members to send a weekly status email.

Ask the team: How should we check-in about our progress?

While this type of teamwork seems intricate, it truly can work in an informal team environment as well. Even if you ask the questions outlined above, you will set yourself up for a fantastic team environment.

What strategies do you use to achieve goals with a team?

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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