Setting SMART Goals
Good Planning Can Help Your Business
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for setting goals that has been used since the 1980’s*. It has been interpreted many ways by many different people throughout the years, some even adding other letters or words to the acronym to even further clarify. But it essentially boils down to:
- Specific: Get very specific in your goal, don’t leave it up for interpretation.
- Measurable: Know how this goal will be tracked or measured. If there is no clear way to measure progress, you can’t know if your goal has been achieved. This is especially important when working in a group.
- Attainable: Make sure the goal is within the realm of possibility. If the ultimate goal is very far-fetched, break it down into smaller, more attainable goals. (This was originally Assignable, meaning it is a goal that one person or department is responsible for.)
- Relevant: Ask whether or not the goal works in the culture of your organization and with your other goals. Is it a worthwhile goal, and is it the right time to work on this goal? (Often also used as Realistic.)
- Timed: Establish a deadline for achieving these goals. Everyone involved in the goal-setting process should be aware of the timeline and in agreement with it. The timeline should also be realistic and take into account other goals and steps along the way.
It is very important to have goals and tasks in business. This applies to everyone from the small business owner who is doing everything themselves to the large corporation with 100’s of people working together within many different departments.
Goals Bring Everyone Together
Setting goals with these attributes is especially vital when working with contractors. With common goals, everyone is on the same page and work can be done effeciently.
And that is why I use this as a guideline when I work with clients – because it puts everyone on the same page. We will all know what we are doing, why we are doing it, when it needs to be done by, and how we will measure success.
Not The Only Way
Now that we’ve established how important it is to have SMART goals, let me say that it isn’t the only way to plan! There is a lot of value in having goals that are out there, ones you don’t know how you’re going to achieve yet. Dreaming big is a great way to start.
Most people, however, find that when it comes down to achieving these goals, having the steps spelled out in this way is very important. This becomes even more useful when working in groups and delegating tasks.
*The November 1981 issue of Management Review contained a paper by George T. Doran called There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. This paper is believed to be the origin of SMART goal setting.