It happens with people quite often that they feel that they are not getting anywhere even after working hard. People try to get as much work done as possible while, in actuality, they accomplish nothing. It is in such situations that SMART goals enter the picture.
What are SMART Goals?
Peter Drucker gave the concept of management by objectives. Setting SMART goals is often linked with Drucker’s concept. Setting SMART goals helps the employees to make use of specific aims to attain a bigger purpose. It allow people to get clarity on their ideas and use their time and resources effectively. SMART goals enhance the chances of achieving what an individual wants in life.
Your goals should be Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound, i.e., SMART, to ensure that they are clear and attainable.
How to use SMART Goals?
It is vital to know how to use SMART goals so that your objectives are straightforward and achievable. Here are five things that you need to keep in mind while setting and attaining goals.
Simple and Specific
An individual would not be able to focus and feel motivated to achieve the goal if the goal is not specific and direct. You should define the objective well such that it gives the desired result after its accomplishment.
It is vital to answer five questions while drafting your objective:
- What is it that you want to achieve?
- Why does the goal hold significance for you?
- Who is engaged?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources are employed?
It can be explained better with an example: think you are a marketing executive at an organization, and you aim to become a marketing head of your organization. In this aspect, your specific goal should sound as “I want to acquire the necessary skills and expertise to become the marketing head of my organization. In this way, I would be able to build a successful career for myself.”
Example: Read books more often.
It is essential to consider that the goals you are formulating for yourself are measurable. You should know to what extent you have achieved it.
One can track the progress and get the feeling of getting closer to the completion of the goal.
Consider the target objective and which parts can be measured to assist in defining measurable outcomes.
Sometimes it is vital to make cross-comparisons while measuring your goals. Suppose you are a sales manager of an area and want to enhance the sales for that area. After applying the relevant strategies, you can see whether the sales have increased or not. The difference between the final and initial sales would give you the measurement of the increase in sales.
Example: Read at least one book in a month.
The goal that you set to achieve needs to be realistic. You might set goals that demand more effort than before, but they should also be achievable. If you perceive your goals as unattainable, you are more prone to lose motivation and become demoralized.
There are specific questions that you can consider:
- Do you have the required resources to perform the task at hand?
- Who would be responsible for completing a particular task?
- Do you possess the necessary skills to attain the goal?
People would become hesitant to devote their time and attention to a goal that they believe is unattainable. As a result, it is critical to agree on objectives and make them as realistic as possible.
Suppose you are part of an organization, and you want to get a promotion. You need to ask yourself whether you can get the promotion based on your existing knowledge and skill set. You might also consider asking yourself some questions such as “Do I have adequate time to build on the relevant skills?” and “Do I have the resources necessary for building my skill set?”
Example: Utilize time effectively and cut down on social media to give more time to reading books.
It is a step to determine whether the objectives that an individual or a group has set align with the organization’s strategy and purpose.
For example, you want to become the manager of the sales department in your organization. You might ask yourself, “Is it the correct time to build on skills and undergo training?”, “Is there any other person in the organization who is more qualified to become the manager?” It would allow you to know about the relevance of attaining the goal.
Example: Reading books more often would enhance my knowledge and vocabulary to a great extent.
There should be a target date attached to every goal that an individual or group sets. Setting a date or time by which you can achieve the aim is crucial, and this helps to make objectives measurable.
There are certain questions that you can consider while formulating smart goals with respect to time:
- What are the objectives you have to accomplish today?
- Which tasks should you prioritize?
- What can I do one month from now?
Suppose you want to become the manager of your organization, for which you need to acquire additional skills and qualifications. You need to identify how long it will take you to develop these skills and qualifications as it is vital to give yourself a realistic time limit to accomplish the tasks.
Example: If I stick to the plan, I would be able to read 12 books by the end of the year.
SMART Goals Template for Employees
Setting SMART goals is not enough for organizations; it is also vital to ensure that individuals and teams diligently follow those goals.
Communicate these goals to employees, teams, managers, and even customers in some cases as often as possible.
Communicating the goals to everyone would give a clear idea about the organizational objective. Consequently, individuals would become aware of the responsibilities they are expected to handle to complete the organizational goal effectively.
Break Goals into Subgoals
Firstly, it is vital to write and state the organizational goals. After writing the objective, break it down into small measurable sub-goals.
You can prioritize the sub-goals and keep track of them to measure your progress. When you achieve the sub-goal, try to reflect on the achievement. It would allow you to see the instances where you went off track and apply the learnings going forward.
Set Genuine Goals
Goals that push the employee’s limits are good for them, but employees should be aware of the dangers of setting unrealistic goals given the time and resources available.
There should always be room for changes in the SMART goals as the situations might demand a different action.
Tips for Team Leaders and Managers
Team leaders and managers should take care of certain things for the effective completion of SMART goals:
- Set objectives that are specific.
- Define a proper system and procedure for tracking the progress of the goals.
- Lay down goals that are attainable and realistic.
- Team leaders and managers should not ignore that circumstances can change and that they may have to revisit and revise the goals if circumstances make them less achievable.
Use Software to Measure SMART Goals
Once an employee drafts the SMART goals, the managers can revert and ask for any changes if required. In this sense, the collaboration of everyone is necessary to reach a common ground.
Make Awareness About the Benefits of SMART Goals
The employees should know about the importance that the company gives to setting goals. Explain to the employees the performance-related impact of setting smart goals.
If the employees gain awareness about SMART goal setting, they will be well-prepared for achieving it. The organization should also tell the employees about their importance and role in achieving the goals.
It is better to offer openness and transparency to your employees. Transparency correlates with trust, engagement, and enhanced organizational performance.
If the organization is open and transparent about its goals and vision, the employee will keep them in mind while working towards their own objectives.
Pick Relevant Goals
The goals that an organization sets for itself should be relevant to the overall business goals and should be in tune with current trends in the industry.
If the objectives were related to the current trends, employees would be more involved in achieving them as it would allow them to gain hands-on experience on the latest technologies and skills.
SMART objectives are critical to progressing in life, professionally and personally. Set specific goals but ensure their attainability. Be aware of the benefits of SMART goals and make them a part of your life.