Project management

SMART

The tool that can help you set achievable goals.

Goals are something we all set ourselves, and goals are important for your company's development. There are countless different goals.

Some goals are short-term and specific, e.g Within 30 days, we will increase production by two units per employee per hour. Others are long-term and imprecise, e.g Within the next five years, we will be a greener and more sustainable organisation. 

Some goals are easy for employees to understand, e.g all employees must complete the satisfaction survey within 14 days. While others can be difficult to understand and interpret correctly, e.g all employees need to show entrepreneurial spirit in 2013.

Some goals can be implemented and achieved relatively easily, e.g reception staff will always answer the phone before the third ring, while others are unrealistic and almost impossible to achieve, e.g all employees must master the five languages spoken by our customers by the end of the financial year.

Project management

How do you know what type of goal to set?

After all, the whole point of setting goals is to achieve them. You will not find your realistic goals through countless meetings and endless review of the company's needs. It only steals your precious time and you end up with unattainable goals, or goals that no one follows through on. Unfortunately, this happens to far too many managers.

The best goals are smart goals, ie. SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for five characteristics of well-designed goals. The goals must be;

p – specific, significant, stretching
M – measurable, meaningful, motivational
A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T – time-based, timely, tangible, traceable

Specific

Goals must be clear and unambiguous. Frivolous whims and platitudes must not take up space in the objective statement. When goals are specific, they tell employees exactly what is expected, when and how much. Specific goals allow you to measure your and your employees' improvements in what they achieve.

A clear goal can answer:

What do I want to achieve?
Why do I want to achieve this? Special reasons, purposes or benefits for achieving the goal.
Who is involved?
Where does it take place?
What requirements and restrictions are there?

Measurable

Is there a good goal that you can't measure? No. If your goals aren't measurable, you'll never know if the business is making progress. It is also difficult to motivate employees to achieve their goals when they have no milestones to navigate on the way to the goal.

A measurable goal can answer questions such as:

How much?
How many?
When is the goal achieved?

Attainable

Goals must be realistic and achievable for everyone in the company. The best goals require both manager and employee to make an extra effort to achieve them, but they must not be extreme. This means that the targets must neither be out of reach nor below standard performance. Goals that are set too high or too low become meaningless and employees end up ignoring them.

An achievable goal will usually be able to answer the question:

How can the goal be achieved?

Relevant

Goals must be an important tool in achieving your company's vision and mission.

A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

Is it worth working on?
Is it the right time?
Does it match our other efforts / needs?
Are the right people associated?

Time bound

Goals must have starting points, end points, and fixed durations. Commitment to deadlines helps manager and employees to focus their efforts. Goals without deadlines or timetables for completion tend to be overtaken by the day-to-day crises that inevitably arise in an organization.

A time-based goal will be able to answer:

When?
What can I do 6 months from now?
What can I do today?

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