When Setting Goals, Be SMART

 

Setting goals is important for all employees, teleworkers and office bound workers alike.  All of us need tangible, quantifiable targets to aim for.  Regardless if you are setting short, midterm, or long term objectives, use the acronym SMART to help ensure you are creating valuable goals.

S – Specific. 

M – Measurable.

A – Achievable or Attainable.

R – Relevant.

T – Time Bound. 

Specific:  Avoid vague and general goals in favor of detailed, precise ones.  Don’t leave any doubt in the minds of your employees of what the expectation is.   Bad:  “Assist with driving process improvements through ongoing engagement with stakeholders.”  Better: “Participate as a core team member on at least one project to improve the Emerging Markets Customer Fulfillment process, working directly with logistics, customer service, and operations stakeholders.”

Measureable:  You may have heard the old expression, what gets measured gets done.  Ensure that you have tangible, quantifiable targets.  Describe the difference between the current and desired state.   Bad: “Improve customer satisfaction.”  Better:  “Improve customer satisfaction scores associated with on-time deliveries from 4.5 to 7 (on the company’s standard 1-10 customer sat scale).”

Achievable/Attainable:  Make sure milestones and objectives are realistic.  If necessary, split the goals into minimum and stretch targets.  Setting the bar to unrealistic heights can actually reduce the motivation among employees to try to reach the goal.  In the example above, is achieving a customer sat rating of 7 realistic?  Maybe you know from historical data that the customer sat index is incredibly hard to move.  You may restate the goal as “Improve customer satisfaction scores associated with on-time deliveries from 4.5 to 5.5 with a stretch goal of 7 (on the company’s standard 1-10 customer sat scale).”

Relevant: You may have tangible, specific goals that the team can realistically achieve, but who cares?  Are the goals linked to the business strategy or departmental goals?  As you try to make your goals as specific as possible, don’t narrow the scope down to such a point that no one really cares or feels the impact if you achieve them.  Goals should be important and warrant the time and effort to achieve them.

Time Bound: Often ignored, but most important, make sure your goals have a clear deadline and/or agreed upon review dates.  Bad: “Reduce the cycle time of the requisition process.”  Better: “Reduce the cycle time of the requisition process from 4 days to 1 by December 31, Fiscal Year XY.”

Have a tip of your own?  Le t me know.  Good luck setting your goals.  And remember, be SMART!

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