What Are FAST Goals? Plus How To Set Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 4, 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.

Leaders and team members set a variety of goals in order to perform well. Knowing the best and most strategic way to approach these goals can increase your success in completing them. One method known as FAST goals can boost effectiveness by focusing on regularly reassessed and well-defined goals. In this article, we explore what FAST goals are, the benefits of setting this type of goal and how FAST goals differ from SMART goals, another goal-setting strategy.

What are FAST goals?

FAST goals are a goal-setting method that follows the acronym for FAST, which stands for frequent discussions, ambitious scope, specific milestones and transparency. The formulation of FAST goals incorporates some of the goal-setting techniques from the SMART goal strategy but also adds additional tips and information that SMART goals lack. The following are the broken down and defined acronyms of FAST goals:

Frequent discussions

Frequent discussions in FAST goals refer to when teams continue to discuss goals as a way to keep focused and stay motivated. It also works to recognize progress and get feedback on your approach. You may also receive guidance on important decisions and come to a better understanding of how your goals contribute to the overall success of your organization.

Ambitious scope

Ambitious goal-setting can help encourage team members to put extra effort into achieving those goals. Goals should be slightly more ambitious than previous goals were, but still attainable. This step helps prevent choosing goals that are too easy and encourages teams to go after larger goals and learn new things they may need to know to continue advancing.

Related: Process Goals vs. Outcome Goals: What's the Difference?

Specific milestones

In any goal-setting approach, specific milestones are an important component of tracking progress and making adjustments as needed. Specific milestones related to each goal can increase performance. Additionally, when goals are more specific, they provide clarity as to what the organization or team leader expects from each team member.

Transparency

Transparency means that the goals should be easy for team members to assess and understand. This principle helps align the goals with the company's overall strategy. It can also hold team members accountable for their roles, as the entire company and team can see how the goal is progressing and how each team member is contributing.

Benefits of setting FAST goals

A few key benefits of setting FAST goals are:

  • Assisting companies in improving in various areas at the same time

  • Allowing a wide variety of organizations within various fields to utilize this technique due to its flexibility

  • Creating a sense of purpose and achievement among team members

  • Encouraging increased productivity

  • Giving meaning to projects and goals, thus enhancing how an employee feels about their work

  • Offering a direct way to track progress and recognize achievement and success

How to write FAST goals

The following are steps you can take to create FAST goals for yourself or your team:

1. Establish what goals you want to set

Before you can begin setting goals, it's important to first determine what type of goals you and your team should set to meet your organization's overall needs. You may also want to make sure all team members fully understand the meaning and significance of each goal, as some goals are more complex than others. One question to ask your team is to write what a goal means in their own words. This helps them understand the significance of the goal and their role in accomplishing it.

Related: Tips on Setting Goals

2. Get familiar with the meaning of FAST goals

After you've brainstormed with your team and established what types of goals you want to focus on, you can then take some time to review what FAST goals are and how to set them. You can also take this time to discuss FAST goals with your team and make sure everyone understands each component. Consider going over the important elements of each component and answering any questions your team may have.

3. Determine what steps you need to complete to accomplish goals

Next, take one goal you want your team to work on and break it down into the steps necessary to complete the goal. For example, you can set up goal check-ins ahead of time with your team members. You can also make sure everything needed to complete a goal is in a centralized location so that team members can easily find important information related to their goal.

4. Ensure goals meet each component of FAST

Ensuring that goals meet each component of FAST is an important step, as this ensures continuity in all your long-term goal planning. Frequently discuss goals with team members, and make sure goals are ambitious enough to motivate employees. You can also ensure goals are specific enough so that every individual understands how their work supports someone else's in the process.

Related: What are Business Goals? Definition, How To Set Business Goals and Examples

5. Monitor team members' progress

Once you've established goals and team members are aware of their roles, it's important to check in regularly with team members to see how they're progressing. For example, maybe a team member is falling behind because they don't fully understand their duties. Regularly monitoring progress can help keep everyone on track.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

FAST goals vs. SMART goals

SMART goals are another approach to setting goals in the workplace. The acronym SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. The following are a few major differences between SMART and FAST goals:

  • SMART goals don't make ambition a priority, whereas FAST goals do.

  • SMART goals focus primarily on individual contribution and performance, whereas FAST goals emphasize continuous discussion of goals for the company as a whole.

  • SMART goals focus on singular goals to meet an upcoming need, whereas FAST goals focus on long-term goal setting and achievement.

  • SMART goals work best in stable environments, whereas companies can adapt FAST goals to meet unpredictable and complex situations.

Explore more articles