Improvement in all areas of life requires that you set goals for yourself and carry out goal setting activities to move you closer to the results you desire.
One of the best ways to do this, especially for business, is to set goals that are SMART. This type of goal setting involves a clear process and organization of the steps you'll need to take to accomplish what you set out to do.
In this post, we'll discuss what SMART goals are, review an example and help you see why this process should be a part of your business approach.
Defining SMART Goals
SMART goals were first defined in 1981 in an article that appeared in Management Review magazine. Since then, businesses and individuals have benefited from the structure and process of this type of goal setting activity as a plan to see results.
Here is the meaning behind each part of the acronym, SMART:
SMART goals are:
S — Specific: The goal targets a well-defined, specific area for improvement
M — Measurable: The goal states what you want to accomplish in terms of numbers, creates a visual for "moving the needle"
A — Attainable: The goal must be realistic and within reach by those responsible
R — Relevant: The goal addresses business needs and considers current challenges and limitations
T — Time-based: The goal sets deadlines and is approached with a sense of urgency by those responsible
You will soon find that there is a wealth of power for your company when you align and organize your business goals, no matter if the business is small or large.
Employees are Critical to SMART Goals
The most valuable part of any business is the employees, because the profit of your business depends upon making sure each employee is devoted to the business. Your employees must perform up to full potential in order for your business to realize full success.
The business must help employees understand the goal setting activities and the role each person plays in reaching goals and achieving the highest profitability. Employees who do not have a clear understanding of the goals of the company soon become a weak link in the infrastructure of that business.
The method of setting SMART goals offers the employee a better focus since they are able to connect with the goals of the business. The goal alignment of employees to the business goals strengthens the ties that bind the employee to their skill and achievements within the company.
Example of a SMART Goal
GOAL: Increase sales by 20% within 12 months through focused marketing efforts and customer relationship building
How is this goal SPECIFIC? It focuses on one aspect of business — sales — and gives a timeline with specific activities that will contribute to the goal
How will results be MEASURED? Including a percentage of desired increase helps you visualize and evaluate results. This goal above, "increasing sales by 20%," will require knowledge of the current sales performance in order to know what a 20% increase will mean.
Is the result ATTAINABLE? Is this goal realistic? Is it a challenge for the business, but within reasonable reach that will keep employees motivated and not deflated?
Is the goal RELEVANT to the business now? Is it the right time now to focus on this specific goal? Do we have the resources and knowledge of the market to make this possible?
Is there a TIME-BASED element to the goal? Is the timeline to achieve this goal too short? Too long? Is it aggressive enough that we will be required to stay organized and on schedule?
Once the business goals are set following the SMART guidelines, each goal then needs to be broken down into a series of goal setting activities that involve the right employees with the right skills and motivation.
The following activities are necessary to carry out your SMART goals:
- Defining the specific tasks to accomplish the goal
- Setting a schedule for tasks
- Organizing your team
- Defining responsibility
- Tracking milestones in the process
- Meeting deadlines
Review Goals and Reach Potential
Because times and technologies are always changing, it is essential to the success of the business to review and possibly revamp goal setting activities periodically throughout the year, such as setting up a quarterly review of the company goals.
These activities will keep you on track toward reaching your potential as a business and creating value for your customers. To learn about technologies that are helping businesses improve productivity and reach goals, download our e-book, "The Future of Communications," below.
Image credit: goals