We briefly mentioned SMART Goals in a previous introductory blog post, and now that we have the foundation ready, it's time to start building on it. But what exactly is the SMART criteria? According to George Doran (The man who came up with the term in 1981), it is "a mnemonic acronym, giving criteria to guide in the setting of goals and objectives that are assumed to give better results". A SMART goal is defined by its five key aspects or elements. Without all aspects, you might be goal setting, but not effectively creating a plan for success. Let’s take a closer look at the five elements of SMART goals.
Specific goals have a desired outcome that is clearly understood. This might be a sales number or a product rollout goal. No matter what it is, the goal should be clearly articulated so that everyone is on the same page with the objective. Define what will be accomplished and the actions to be taken to accomplish the goal.
These are the numbers used with the goal. You need to have a quantifiable objective so that you can track progress. Define what data will be used to measure the goal and set a method for collection.
Goals need to be realistic in order to maintain the enthusiasm to try to achieve them. Setting lofty goals is good, but you may want to break them down into smaller, bite-sized chunks. If the goal is not doable, you may need to first ramp up resources to give yourself a shot at success. Ramping up resources would likely be its own SMART goal.
Goals should be aligned with the mission of the company. Don’t set goals just as an exercise for something to do. One way to determine if the goal is relevant is to define the key benefit to the organization.
Goals should have a deadline. A goal without a deadline doesn’t do much. How can you identify success or failure? This is why SMART goals set a final date. This doesn’t mean that all the work is done, but it means that you can evaluate the success of the endeavor and set new goals.
The pros and cons
Sets clear objective
Prioritizing SMART goal can overshadow other important areas
Can be discouraging if the goals aren't realistic
Invites challenge & a chance to improve & learn new things
Lack of flexibility
Let's take a look at Francesco, he is the head of sales at his company, and he wants to increase the number of sales. How would Francesco write down his goal using the SMART criteria?
Here's a visual representation of how it would look:
Professional Goal: “I’m going to increase sales”
Specific: “I am going to learn about social media marketing and invest in a social media management platform to start growing an online audience of potential customers.”
Measurable: “The goal is to increase sales by 30% within the next quarter.”
Achievable: “I can afford a subscription to Black Ires, and I have a moderately successful business that can handle a large increase in customer demand.”
Relevant: “I want to grow my sales volume so that I can buy a new vehicle for my business.”
Time-bound: “I will subscribe to Black Ires tomorrow and go through all of their instructional material to learn how the platform works. I will build a social media strategy and deploy it in two weeks.”
Hopefully, this gave you a general idea about SMART goals. Stay tuned, as we will dive into the SWOT Analysis next time.