Mastering the Art of SMART Goal Setting

The concept of SMART goals is a relatively recent development, with its roots traced back to 1981. It was then that George T. Doran, an experienced consultant and previous director of corporate planning for Washington Water Power Company, presented a paper named “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.”

Understanding SMART Goals

The concept of SMART goals is a relatively recent development, with its roots traced back to 1981. It was then that George T. Doran, an experienced consultant and previous director of corporate planning for Washington Water Power Company, presented a paper named “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” This paper heralded the introduction of SMART goals as an instrumental tool for formulating clear and achievable objectives, thus increasing the probability of success.

Decoding the SMART Acronym

The SMART acronym encompasses:

S – Specific

When establishing a goal, it's essential to detail what you aim to achieve. This should serve as your goal's mission statement. Although it's not a comprehensive plan of how you'll meet a goal, it should answer the key 'w' questions:

Who – Determine who must be involved to accomplish the goal, a crucial consideration for team-based projects.

What – Pinpoint exactly what you hope to achieve, and don’t hesitate to delve into the specifics.

When – Although the "time-bound" section of SMART goals will address this in more detail, you should provide a preliminary timeframe.

Where – Identify any relevant locations or events, if applicable. This may not be relevant for personal goals.

Which – Ascertain any potential challenges or prerequisites. This can assist in evaluating the feasibility of your goal. For instance, if you aim to start a bakery, but lack baking skills, you may need to modify your goal to "Acquire baking skills to establish a bakery."

Why – Understand the rationale behind the goal. If this method is employed for employees, the reasons will likely center around corporate progression or professional growth.

M – Measurable

Decide on the metrics that will indicate whether you've achieved the goal. This renders the goal more concrete, as it provides a means to track progress. If the goal is a long-term project, set intermediate milestones, identifying specific tasks to be accomplished.

A – Achievable

This element assesses the importance of a goal to you and identifies actions needed to make it feasible. This may entail acquiring new skills or altering attitudes. The goal should stimulate motivation, not induce disappointment. Evaluate the strategies to achieve the goal and whether you possess the necessary skills/tools. If not, identify what's needed to gain them.

R – Relevant

Relevance pertains to ensuring the goal aligns with broader business objectives. For instance, launching a new consumer product makes sense if it fits into the overall business goals. If your company is a B2B that isn't venturing into the consumer market, such a goal would be irrelevant.

T – Time-Bound

Setting goals without a practical timeline often results in failure. It's vital to set a target date for outcomes. Ask detailed questions about the deadline and what can be achieved within that timeframe. If a goal requires three months to complete, outline what should be accomplished mid-way. Setting time limits generates urgency.

Crafting SMART Goals Made Easy

Formulating SMART goals involves a series of question-and-answer sessions with yourself and your team. The answers will help refine your plan, ensuring that the goals are truly achievable. While it's important to stay realistic, maintaining a positive attitude while writing SMART goals is essential. After all, these are objectives you wish to accomplish.

This process need not be intimidating; in fact, it should be enlightening. The latter part of this article demonstrates how to formulate SMART goals for two common business scenarios: project completion and personal performance enhancement. Included below are a user-friendly SMART goals template in Word and a template for planning and managing your goals in Smartsheet.

The Stress of Setting Goals

Setting goals can be an effective way to drive motivation and achieve personal or professional aspirations. However, it can also lead to headaches when not approached with caution. Gilmore Chiropractic clinic have released a great article on How to Get Rid of Your Headaches for Good which can help you maximise your efficiency.

Realizing SMART Goals with Project Management in Smartsheet

Once you've outlined your SMART goals, you need a strategy to achieve them. For effective execution, a tool that facilitates planning, tracking, managing, automating, and reporting on your goals in real-time is indispensable.

Smartsheet is one such tool. It's a work execution platform that empowers businesses and teams to transform ideas into outcomes efficiently. With Smartsheet's collaborative, real-time objectives tracker, you can boost transparency and enhance accountability across your initiatives.

Moreover, leading project management professionals count on Smartsheet to coordinate the right people, resources, and schedules to accomplish tasks. Utilize Smartsheet to generate consistent project components, expedite processes, and foster collaboration with scalable solutions tailored to individual work preferences. Hold yourself and your team accountable, enhance visibility into team priorities, and prevent any tasks from falling through the cracks.

Illustrative SMART Goals

Here are two sample goals we'll use to illustrate this process:

  • I wish to complete a project.
  • I wish to enhance my performance.

While these are common ways to create goals, they're somewhat vague as currently worded. The goals are likely unachievable due to their lack of specificity, timelines, motivation, and realism.

Now, let's apply the SMART goals formula to clarify and improve both goals.

Goal 1: I wish to complete a project.

Specific: Our current website is frequently accessed via mobile devices. As it's not responsive, it compromises the customer experience. I aim to launch a mobile application for our company website by the end of Q2, necessitating cooperation from software development, design, and marketing teams.

Measurable: Developing a mobile application for our company website will demand significant resources. To justify the effort, I aim to achieve 50,000 installs of the application within six months of launch, and a 5% conversion rate from mobile users.

Achievable: The required departments have given their consent to the creation of a mobile application. I will need to oversee the project and establish milestones to keep everyone motivated and on track.

Relevant: Enhancing the customer experience on mobile devices is a primary goal for my company this year.

Time-Bound: To attain 50,000 mobile app installs and a 5% conversion rate by the fiscal year-end, we must launch the app by Q2 and maintain a strong marketing campaign throughout the year.

Goal 2: I wish to improve my performance.

Specific: I received feedback on the need to improve my PowerPoint skills in my last performance review. This improvement entails learning to use PowerPoint effectively and practicing by creating different presentations. I aim to become more proficient in PowerPoint by my next review in six months.

Measurable: By my next review, I should be capable of creating presentations with graphs, images, and other media within a few hours. I should also master the efficient use and creation of PowerPoint templates that my colleagues can use.

Achievable: Enhancing my PowerPoint skills is key to advancing in my career and receiving a better performance review. I can allocate weekly time to watch PowerPoint tutorials, enroll in an online course to learn new skills, and ask my manager and colleagues for PowerPoint tips.

Relevant: PowerPoint currently constitutes 25% of my job. As I progress in the company, I will need to devote 50% of my time to creating PowerPoint presentations. I love my job and wish to continue advancing within this company.

Time-Bound: In six months, I aim to be proficient in PowerPoint so it only requires 25% of my work time, as opposed to the current 40%.

Once you've formulated your goals according to each SMART characteristic, you can then merge and consolidate your efforts into a single SMART goal.

SMART goal: I wish to complete a project.

Description: Enhancing the mobile experience for our customers is a primary goal for my company this year. Hence, we plan to develop a mobile application. By the fiscal year-end, we aim to have 50,000 installs of our application and a 5% conversion rate. We'll develop the mobile app in-house and launch it by the end of Q2, along with a marketing campaign related to the app that will run until year-end.

Milestone: Mobile app launch by end of Q2.

Deadline: End of the fiscal year.

SMART goal: I wish to improve my performance.

Description: To advance in my career, I need to enhance my PowerPoint skills. By undertaking online classes and reviewing tutorials, I aim to develop my PowerPoint skills so they only take up 25% of my work time.

Milestone: Completion of an online PowerPoint course within three months.

Deadline: Next employee review in six months.

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