Get SMART: How a 40-year-old goal-setting framework can help you achieve skills management success

How a 40-year-old goal-setting framework can help you achieve skills management success

The SMART framework is a goal-setting strategy that provides a structured and effective approach for defining and achieving goals. First outlined in 1981, each component of the SMART framework emphasizes a key aspect of goal setting to increase the likelihood of its successful achievement that still holds true today.

While we’ve written about the SMART framework several times before, we have not closely examined how it is interconnected with – and can be directly applied to –  effective skills management. Whereas the SMART framework focuses on setting goals for individuals, teams, or organizations, skills management involves identifying, developing, and utilizing the skills of your workforce to achieve them.

In this article, we’ll quickly reintroduce you to the SMART framework, then pull back to see how you can apply it to your skills management strategy.

What is the SMART framework for goal setting?

In the SMART framework, “SMART” is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the SMART framework.

  • Specific. Goals should be clear, precise, and well-defined
  • Measurable. Goals should have quantifiable measures or indicators of progress
  • Achievable. Goals should be realistic and attainable within the given resources, time, and capabilities
  • Relevant. Goals should align with your broader objectives, values, and priorities
  • Time-based. Goals should have a specific timeframe for completion


The SMART framework and effective skills management software

By integrating the SMART framework into your approach to skills management, you can better develop reskilling and upskilling initiatives for your employees, as well create plans for their acquiring new skills.

This approach ensures that skills development strategies are well-defined, measurable, and closely aligned with the organization’s goals, ultimately contributing to a highly skilled and capable workforce.

With that in mind, let’s take another look at the framework, but this time through the lens of skills management rather than goal setting.



When managing skills, it’s important to be specific about the skills needed for various roles and projects. Clearly define the skills required and articulate how they contribute to the overall objectives.

This specificity helps in targeted skills development, which Gartner says results in employees using up to 75% of the new skills they learn.



Skills management relies on your ability to measure and track the proficiency and progress of employees’ skills. This could involve assessments, certifications, or performance metrics that you can use to effectively gauge skill development trajectories and make informed decisions that enhance both individual employees and the organization as a whole.

Such data-driven approaches not only empower strategic decision-making and a dynamic learning environment, they are also enormous indicators of an organization’s success, with research from McKinsey revealing that data-driven companies are “23x more likely to acquire customers, 6x more likely to retain those customers and 19x more likely to be profitable.”



Ensure that the skills you’re aiming to develop are realistic and attainable within the given time and resources

Additionally, a well-balanced assessment of existing skill gaps can help tailor your skill development initiatives to maximize efficiency and impact. Striking this balance between ambition and feasibility fosters a culture of continuous improvement while optimizing resource allocation. 



Skills development should be aligned with the organization’s needs and strategy. Identify skills that are most relevant to your industry, market trends, and future growth

Furthermore, staying updated with the evolving demands of your industry ensures that your skills management efforts remain agile and adaptable, which sees organizations see up to “30% gains in efficiency, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance,” according to another McKinsey survey.



Set timelines for skills development and improvement. This could involve creating a training schedule, setting milestones, and reviewing progress regularly. Such timelines are not only key to effective skills management, they can also help in tracking its impact on individual and organizational performance.

By establishing clear time-based goals for skills development, for example, you can create a sense of urgency and accountability that drives consistent and purposeful skills management.


AG5 skills management software and the SMART framework

AG5 places skills management at the heart of your organization, providing you with the real-time data and analytics you need to effectively and efficiently track skills, develop training plans, and manage certifications and qualifications that your employees need to stay productive and continuously improve under the SMART framework.

Want to learn more? Schedule a free, live, 15-minute demo today to see how AG5’s skills management software holds the potential to transform the way your business operates.

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Ready to master skills management?

Get a personalized walkthrough of AG5 from one of our product experts in just 15 minutes.

Book a demo

ISO27001 certified     Free trial available