Should we be less Smart on targets?

Research has shown that the practice of setting performance targets for staff that are ‘specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based’ can be detrimental in some professions. Is teaching one of them? Zofia Niemtus finds out

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If you’ve had – or conducted – a performance review recently, you will almost certainly have walked out of that meeting clutching a list of targets. And it is very likely that those targets will have been “Smart” (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based). The Smart approach to target-setting is one that has been adopted as best practice by organisations in a variety of sectors – and it’s an approach that’s backed by science.

Gary Latham, secretary of state professor of organisational effectiveness at the University of Toronto, says that there are “approximately 1,000 studies ...

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