What are SMART Goals for Improving Communication Skills?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Communication skills are an important part of your professional and personal life. It helps you interact effectively and communicate your thoughts, ideas and feelings to others in a variety of settings. Knowing how to use the SMART framework to set goals that enhance your communication skills can help you grow personally and professionally. In this article, we learn about SMART goals for improving communication skills, explain their importance and explore how to apply the framework to your communication skills in the workplace.

What are SMART goals for improving communication skills?

To understand SMART goals for improving communication skills, it's important to understand how to structure SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Here's what each component of SMART means and how they're related to developing your communication skills:

Specific

This refers to the exactness of your goal requirements, which is what you want to achieve professionally or personally. Making your goals specific ensures clarity and focus regarding the steps you can take to accomplish your goals. In defining your goal, ensure that you focus on one actionable item or behaviour that you want to achieve. An example of a specific goal is improving eye contact with team members during a sales meeting.

Measurable

After determining the goal that you want to achieve, decide the criteria that can measure your ability to achieve it. You can set the parameters for achievement by using numbers such as time, length or other quantifiable metrics to assess your progress towards achieving your goal. While doing so, you may also consider identifying milestones that help you track your progress to see if your methods are effective.

Attainable

When deciding the goal that you want to achieve, assess whether it's realistically attainable while adequately challenging. Setting an attainable goal can keep you motivated and focused on the tasks required to achieve your goal. Consider the steps it requires you to take and the time frame in which you can achieve the goal. List out the specific actions you're going to take and the tools you require, such as books on communication or attending a workshop.

Relevant

Consider goals that directly and positively impact the improvement of your communication skills. This ensures that you choose ideas, steps and tasks that are relevant to achieving your goals. When considering what you want to achieve, you may look at your environment, such as your workplace, to provide you with the context to frame your goals and the outcomes. For example, if you have monthly review meetings with the management, you can consider improving your speaking and presentation skills that achieve this purpose.

Time-bound

Goals require a time frame within which you can achieve them. This helps you to plan and prioritise your tasks and responsibilities to help you attain your goals. Setting a deadline for your goal also provides you with the motivation and sense of urgency to achieve it. Consider a realistic amount of time to complete the process and avoid missing a deadline. If that happens, you can re-examine the reasons why you haven't achieved it. These can involve reasons such as requiring more time or encountering obstacles that affected your progress.

Related: How to Write Smart Goals for Your Career (With Examples)

Why are SMART goals important for improving communication skills?

The SMART framework can help you identify, plan and structure goals that meaningfully impact your communication skills. It also helps you quantify your progress and understand what you can do to improve your skills. The SMART framework helps to remove any ambiguity in your goals and provides a guideline to evaluate performance. Using this framework can also help you test the effectiveness of different techniques in achieving your goals.

Related: How to Improve Your Communication Skills at Work in 10 Steps

How you can use SMART goals for communication skills in the workplace

Here's how you can create and use SMART goals for communication skills in the workplace:

Improve email response time

You may find that you and your team are using an undesirable amount of time to respond to email communications from various stakeholders. By identifying the problem, you can then define and plan a strategy to improve response times to email communications using a SMART goal. For example, you can set a personal goal of reducing the amount of time taken for email communication by two hours before the end of the month by reviewing email settings, roadblocks and activities that contribute to the delay in responding to emails.

You can break this goal down according to the SMART framework into the following components:

  • Specific: The goal is to reduce time spent responding to email communications.

  • Measurable: You can measure this goal by assessing how much faster you respond to emails.

  • Attainable: You can easily perform the tasks required to achieve this goal, such as reviewing email settings.

  • Relevant: The goal has relevance as it's about reducing email response times with various stakeholders to make communication more efficient.

  • Time-bound: The goal has a time frame within which to accomplish the goal and review its success.

Related: Guide to Replying to an Email Professionally (With Examples)

Improving your presentation skills

If you want to improve your ability to present and speak effectively while giving a presentation, you may consider different strategies. Using the SMART framework, you can set the goal of improving your presentation skills by the end of the first quarter by practising speeches at least twice before a presentation, adding cue points in presentation slides and requesting feedback after each presentation. Here's how this goal fits into the SMART framework:

  • Specific: Your goal specifies that you want to improve your effectiveness in giving presentations.

  • Measurable: You intend to practise your speech for the presentation at least twice before giving it and using cue points in presentation slides.

  • Attainable: You're looking to improve your skills and use feedback from others to achieve it, while also practising regularly to attain your goal.

  • Relevant: Setting this goal can help you improve your presentation and communication skills.

  • Time-bound: You've set a time frame by the end of the first quarter to achieve your goal of becoming more effective at giving presentations.

Motivating team members

You may look for different ways to motivate your team members to improve productivity and work satisfaction. You may implement a reward and recognition programme that increases their motivation and work output. A statement that uses the SMART goal framework to summarise a plan to motivate team members can be to improve the motivation of team members by using a reward and recognition programme to increase workplace morale and productivity by the end of the second quarter. You can then measure their performance in each quarter and use a workplace survey to understand if the programme is successful.

Here's how this goal adheres to the SMART framework:

  • Specific: The goal is to increase team members' motivation, morale and productivity by using a reward and recognition programme.

  • Measurable: You specify that you plan to measure their work performance and use surveys to evaluate the programme's success.

  • Attainable: You may use a variety of methods to improve motivation, such as a salary bonus, promotion opportunities or recognition of a team member for positively contributing to the team.

  • Relevant: Motivating your team members can result in better job satisfaction, improve professional relationships and boost a team's morale and productivity.

  • Time-bound: You've set a deadline of achieving the goal by the end of the second quarter.

Providing feedback to team members

Providing effective and constructive feedback to your team members can help them improve their performance. A relevant SMART goal is to use a feedback and goal setting system to help each team member realise their potential and improve their individual and the team's performance by spending time with each member with a deadline of one month. You can then meet with each member once a week to review their progress and success at the end of the month. Here's how this goal conforms to the SMART framework:

  • Specific: You want to use an effective feedback method to help your team members improve their individual and team performance.

  • Measurable: You help team members by setting a goal with a deadline of a month and having weekly review meetings, including a meeting at the end of the month, to evaluate their progress towards achieving the goal.

  • Attainable: You work with each team member to understand their strengths and weaknesses to set a goal that's challenging but within their capability to achieve it.

  • Relevant: The goal helps your team members to improve their performance and contribution to the overall team's performance.

  • Time-bound: You've set one month as a deadline to achieve the goal and meet with each member once a week to stay up-to-date with their progress ahead of a goal's deadline.

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