Are You Setting Smart Goals? Follow This Framework to Get Ahead
In this article, we’ll define smart goals and walk you through steps to take before and during your goal setting practice. I encourage you to make this practice your own and find what works best for you.
First, what is a “smart” goal?
The acronym “SMART” stands for:
Smart goals are simple, clear and concrete. The who, what and where are clear and specific.
Smart goals indicate how much and how many you intend to accomplish. They also include success indicators.
Attainable or actionable
Smart goals are challenging, and not too easy.
Smart goals should be relevant and important to your organization and team – ideally this means they impact one of the following areas in business: revenue, cost, employee or customer loyalty.
Smart goals are grounded and clear on when the task is to be completed, and how much time is to be spent.
Creating and achieving your smart goals
1. Assess your situation and decide where to start
Before setting any goals for the future, an important first step is to assess your current situation.
This will help you set smart goals because oftentimes the most overwhelming part of setting goals is deciding where to start.
Below are three potential areas to start when setting new personal and professional goals.
- Your organization’s strategic focus
Are there areas of your organization’s strategic plan that you own or can set goals around? What company goals can you contribute to, either as a leader or as a team member?
- Personal professional goals
Are there goals you can set to achieve your annual or quarterly performance goals? Where do you stand with your professional development goals?
- “Must do’s” or fires to fight
Sometimes lofty or discretional goals have to go on the back burner for the quarter while you address unplanned priorities, otherwise known as “fires”. Think about the “must do’s” in your organization. These often include:
- Safety issues
- Regulatory or compliance issues
- Other business sustainability issues
One of our organization’s strategic focus areas included a Building Block that was established to drive increased revenue and profitability. Our goal could be an initiative that serves this strategic focus.
Using this framework, we identified an initiative to deliver higher potential for expanded business with our ideal customers. This initiative was then converted into a goal: Design, plan and execute account management meetings with ideal customers and use these meetings as an opportunity to share insights, observations and recommendations for future value delivery across their organization.
2. Create your smart goals and get started
You may often face situations when you have several goals that feel important and valuable, but you don’t want to over-extend yourself and try to do too much. Therefore, you need to identify which ones should be prioritized above others.
As you narrow down your list of goal options, it can sometimes be difficult to choose what goals to focus on first. If you’re finding yourself stuck in analysis paralysis, here’s an idea on what to do:
To prioritize, look at your options in these two dimensions:
- Which goal delivers a higher impact? Think about its impact on sales growth, cost reduction, employee and customer loyalty.
- And which is easier to make happen? What is the level of effort needed to meet the goal? How complex is the goal and who else could contribute to achieve it?
- Goals that have high impact and are easier to do, should typically be the highest priority
Thinking in this way will help you look at areas where it may be easier to secure wins.
Using the example above, we can create a smart goal.
By September 1, 2021, design, plan and conduct comprehensive Account Management meetings with our top 10 ideal customers. This goal is:
- Specific… plan and conduct well-designed and valuable Account Management meetings with our top 10 ideal customers.
- Measurable…. 10 Account Management meetings
- Actionable…the goal is clear and translates to a series of action steps
- Relevant….directly linked to potential revenue and profitability growth
- Time-based…. by September 1, 2021
I encourage you to make this process your own and share it with your colleagues. By sharing a common language and setting smarter goals, you’ll be able to drive execution for your organization and move the needle on your organization’s strategic initiatives.
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