When I was 12 years old, I wanted to be an actor. I imagined myself being famous and popular and thought how fun it would be to star in a big Hollywood movie. I had a goal. But like many goals people have, it wasn't a very good one. It wasn't SMART.
And maybe that's the reason I never even tried to get into an acting school.
In the professional world, the usual goal is “we'll increase revenue.” This is a perfectly reasonable thing to achieve, however, it has just as much substance as my dreams of acting.
In our personal and professional lives, we must set goals every day. Most of those goals are unfortunately similar to a a 12-year-old kid's dreams. When it comes to setting goals for a team or an entire company, this is a problem.
Statistics show that only 3% of adults have specific, measurable, time-bound goals and they achieve 10 times as much as people without goals.
No time to plan
It is inevitable that we are encouraged and pressured into making fast decisions. Whether setting goals for the next quarter in a corporate office or thinking about what your next job should be, the constant pressure of our time is there. But planning should not be rushed. It takes a lot to come up with the best ideas and the smartest goals for you or your company. The results are almost always worth it.
Ask the right questions
SMART goals are a methodology that sets criteria to the goals you set. The goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. The questions you need to ask for each goal are:
Specific: Is the goal well-defined and everyone who works here can understand them?
Measurable: Can I measure my success or failure?
Achievable: Is is realistically possible to do?.
Relevant: is this goals important to my bigger (business) plan?
Time-bound: Have I clearly established when the goal must be met?
Although the acronym is linear, you can't always answer the questions in this order. And the way to approach this problem, depends of your company.
In general, you can't say if something is achievable without factoring all other aspects. To understand if your goal is relevant, it must already be specific but you first have to set a timeline to say what can be measured in this time.
SMART goals take away the excuses like “we'll do it next year” or “it never was achievable anyway.” When the time is up, your forced to face the reality. The good news is, that if you failed you get a clear overview of what you must to better next time.
Implementing Smart as a team-wide or company-wide policy has many perks. Having your employees think about what they can realistically do and supporting them with it, increases their engagement and motivation. If they know, they are not expected to do something impossible, they are more focused and goal-oriented. And also, they know their leader has a plan.