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What are SMART Goals and How to Set them
Trying to improve your team productivity? Struggling to close your projects?
You can’t do either without setting clear goals.
Over the decades, several techniques have risen to fame as answers to goals setting. The SMART goals framework is one of the most famous.
In this article, we’ll explain what SMART goals mean – and how managers can put them into place to reach business goals.
So although the SMART framework is used for personal goals, too, in this article we’ll talk about SMART goals in a work setting.
What Are SMART Goals?
The SMART framework is a scheme for setting up goals that are actually achievable.
The credit for the inventing SMART goals is uncertain. However, the first written mention of the SMART framework was in 1981 in an article by George T. Doran on the issue of Management Review:
‘How do you write meaningful objectives?’- that is, frame a statement of results to be achieved, Managers are confused by all the verbal from seminars, books, magazines, consultants, and so on.
Let me suggest therefore, that when it comes to writing effective objectives, corporate officers, managers, and supervisors just have to think of the acronym SMART.
George T. Doran
What Does SMART Mean?
“SMART” is an acronym. Every letter stands for an adjective that defines the characteristics that the goals would have. Basically, the five words are the criteria to follow to set the goals.
Here’s the explanation of each letter of the SMART framework:
- Specific: is targeted on an area of improvement;
- Measurable: has clear success metrics assigned to it;
- Achievable: can be broken down in realistic steps;
- Relevant: fits inside the general scope and strategy of the project;
- Time-bound: has a (realistic) deadline;
The acronym changed and adapted over time. For example, Doran originally envisioned the A as in “Assignable”, which means making clear who is in charge of that goal in particular.
The SMART framework is sometimes also called SMART-ER:
- Evaluated: appraisal of a goal to assess the extent to which it has been achieved.
- Reviewed: reflection and adjustment of your approach or behavior to reach a goal. (reference needed)
For the sake of this article, we’ll stick to the SMART framework.
Why Are SMART Goals Important?
SMART goals are important as a framework to measure success.
Without goals, it’s really hard for a business, a team, or an individual to fullfill their mission.
However, not all goals are the same: a poorly crafted, un-measurable goal would be useless in the big picture and make it impossible to know if the work has been effective. It can lead to discouragement and low morale when the goal isn’t reached.
Do SMART Goals Really Work?
The SMART(ER) framework has had its share of criticism throughout the years. The downsides are that smart goals don’t seem to work in the long term, but rather in the short term. Also, SMART goals lack flexibility. Besides, the conservative nature of SMART goals could hinder the employee's capacity to dare and “think big”.
That doesn’t mean that the smart framework should be thrown out entirely. You’ll have to evaluate the upsides and see if they fit in your current need and strategy:
- by consistently following the framework, you’ll have a measurable reference for future projects;
- the more targeted the goal is, the better you’ll be able to allocate time and resources to it;
- your team is more likely to be successful if they have clear, attainable goals to reach.
According to Brian Tracy,
“Only 3% of adults have clear, written, specific, measurable, time-bounded goals, and by every statistic, they accomplish ten times as much as people with no goals at all”
Let’s see how to write SMART goals the right way – and how to achieve them.
How To Write Smart Goals
Before you start: prepare
You cannot set your personal or your team’s goals and objectives without taking a look at where you’re now, what’s been done that far and where you want to head in the future. For example:
– Use tools like Google Analytics to extract audience and traffic metrics;
– Take a look at Google Trends to predict where your industry will be going:
– Check where you and your team have been spending their time;
– Consult with management on the company goals and expectations, and how to fill your actions in the strategy;
– Review the strategies you’ve implemented this far and identify what you achieved and what you missed.
A template for SMART goals
After you have a clear picture of the current situation, it’s time for writing your SMART goals. When you do it, you’ll basically go through all five letters of the SMART acronym.
For example: let’s say that from the Google Analytics panel of your B2B website you notice a lot of visitors coming but very few turning into leads. You decide to focus on the website in order to increase the number of leads signing up to know more about your product.
Setting up your SMART goals should work approximately like this:
What area are you trying to improve? What exactly will you do?
Generic goal: I want more leads
Specific goal: I will improve the conversion rate of the website
How will you know you have achieved your goal? In what ways will you measure it?
Generic goal: I will increase the conversion rate of the website
Measurable goal: I will increase the conversion rate of the website by 25%. I will track goals in Google Analytics to make sure I reach the result.
Take a look at all the past data you have. Taking trends, patterns, and needs into account, what result is most likely to be achieved? Do you have the resources and capabilities? Can you break the goal down into steps?
Achievable goal: I will increase the conversion rate of the website by 25%, by optimizing the CTAs, changing the button size, and moving the content above-the-fold. I will track goals in Google Analytics to make sure I reach the result.
How does the goal fit into the strategy? Is it meaningful? Will it help or jeopardize other goals?
How much time will you allow for reaching this goal? Can you define a reasonable deadline in the calendar?
Time-bound goal: I will increase the conversion rate of the website by 25% in Q2, by optimizing the CTAs, changing the size of the buttons, and moving the content above-the-fold. I will track goals in Google Analytics to make sure I reach the result.
How To Share And Monitor SMART Goals
Hopefully, by now you should have outlined your SMART goals.
So what steps should you take now to actually achieve them? I have some suggestions:
- Write the goals down: You should put all your goals into writing and keep them available for you and your team to review. So you won’t risk forgetting what exactly was needed. Plus, writing everything down will serve as motivation;
- Share them with the team: Explain to your team members what they’re working towards. It will improve communication and transparency;
(Feel free to use this Slideshare presentation that I have prepared to explain the benefits of SMART goals to your team)
- Track your time Since your goals are time-based, you should be extra careful with how you use your and your team’s time. Time tracking tools like Timeneye help exactly with that. You can track time against projects and turn the hours into data that you can analyze;
- Analyze: Speaking of analysis, make sure to monitor the progression of your projects. This way you’ll know before meeting your deadlines how you and your team are doing. You can repeat the process as many times as you want and for any goals you track in the company. Once this process is established in your team, it’ll become more natural and effective and you’ll be able to set and measure the performance of your team.
In conclusion, setting clear goals is crucial for improving team productivity and project success. The SMART goals framework provides a practical approach to goal setting, ensuring that objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
So, if you want to enhance your team's performance and achieve your business goals, it's time to start implementing SMART goals.
Time to reach your goals 🎯
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