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Seb Anthony

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to SMART or not too SMART?


"HATFIELD, England, 28 Dec. 2007 (UPI) -- A British psychologist who tracked 3,000 people said that only 12 percent achieved their New Year's resolutions.

Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire found that men and women have different styles when it comes to following through, The Guardian reported Friday.

Men are more likely to succeed when they set specific, measurable and timebound goals -- losing a pound a week, say, rather than resolving generally to lose weight. They also benefit from focusing on the rewards of success, like becoming more attractive by losing weight or exercising more.

Women tend to achieve their goals when they tell everyone they know what they are trying to accomplish."

I know that this comes from the NYR arena rather than business but is it as relevant in the workplace?

I'm also aware that the two; SMART and public goals, are not mutually exclusive but generally management training goes more for SMART than "go out and shout it from the rooftops"

I'd love to hear from anyone with anecdotal stories relating to this. Are SMART objectives skewed towards men rather than women?


rus slater

6 Responses

  1. SMART – male or female
    Hi Rus – thank you for stimulating thought about SMART and NYR. On a personal level, I am female and find that SMART objectives work for me, although I don’t use them exclusively. I also use big picture/blue sky objectives, but the emphasis is on SMART. As for the private/public aspect – it’s interesting. On a personal level going public doesn’t add anything for me i.e. there’s no additional pressure/incentive because I’ve told someone. However, in the workplace when we shared objectives amongst peers, team members etc. it did add an additional incentive. I wanted to make sure I’d done my bit and kept my commitments so that would drive me on to do my best – most of the time anyway. When training I haven’t really noticed any significant preferences by the sexes, however, I shall be interested to see other responses.

  2. Dunno
    This is curious, I suggest the researcher could equally have chosen the opposite viewpoint that men achieve their goals in the ‘absence’ of talking to other men, women talk to others all the time but to attribute that to the single achievement of a goal just doesn’t follow for me.
    Its a bit like inferring that all cushions are manufactured with sofas since cushions are always found on sofas.

    For me you are either a doer or a not irrespective of sex. Some people get things done, some just dont.

  3. SMARTER objectives
    Thanks for raising this. The same thought crossed my mind when I saw this on the news. I think private/personal goals may be different in some respects to those we agree with a boss in a work setting, but equally there maybe some aspects of goal setting where we could get smarter. Or SMARTER…

    Agreed (I’m using this deliberately here rather than ‘achievable’)
    Engaged with others

    Engaged with others would include disclosure, seeking support, collaboration (where appropriate) or coordinated (with others goals).
    Reportable would include updating on progress, reporting (at the agreed date) what has been achieved and what has not and why, and reporting or sharing lessons learnt with others.

    Do think this ‘smarter’ approach to objective setting might address the potential gender and other important issues that get missed with SMART?


  4. New year goals
    I use a model called POACHER which includes a calculation of what the individual and those they deal with will gain and lose from the achievement of the goal.

    This is a very helpful and healthy check as some goals which are good for me may lead to pain for others?

    If you want more details please send an e-mail.


  5. thanks and goodnight
    My thanks to all who have contributed answers to this question, I have got a great deal from the online and offline responses.

    This is the third time I’ve submitted a “thank you” to close this question but it never seems to appear, so “Sorry” if it now comes up three times!


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