How to Use SMART Goal-Setting Criteria

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Smart-Goal-Setting

Previously, we’ve covered how Google sets its goals with OKRs. You can view OKRs as a framework with which you can set the direction of the entire company.

SMART goals, however, provide the criteria with which goals should be set.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal-Setting Criteria

The SMART framework for goal-setting is one of the most well-known contributions by management guru, Peter Drucker. Commonly linked to Management by Objectives (MBO) or Management by Results, SMART provides the criteria by which goals should be set against so that they are effective.

Goals should be:

Specific

A specific goal is better than a general goal. The less ambiguous the goal, the better it is at informing a team what needs to be done in order to achieve it.

A specific goal will address all the five Ws – what needs to be accomplished, why it needs to be achieved, who is involved, where it has to be done and which requirements and constraints the team needs to be aware of.

Measurable

How are you going to measure if you’re going in the right direction? As the saying goes, what can’t be measured can’t be managed. The metrics you use need to be quantifiable and inform your team of their progress.

Let’s say that your business objective or vision is to grow the company by 50%. How are you going to measure that? Is it going to be measured by topline revenue, profit margin or market share?

Achievable

Any goals that you set must be realistic and achievable in order to motivate your team. Each team has constraints, be it with time, money, external factors, macroeconomic factors, skills or abilities.

The SMART framework for goal-setting states that the goals you set must be achievable, not necessarily easy. Goals that are either too hard or too easy may not motivate your team.

Relevant

A while back, one of my responsibilities was to oversee internal ISO audits. One of the company’s objectives was to increase their marketing effectiveness and a major (and only) KPI was to send out an email newsletter every month.

Is that a relevant metric? Would the mere act of sending out an email newsletter help improve their marketing?

To use a more obvious example, a goal such as ‘make 50 cups of coffee by 5pm every Tuesday’ might be specific, measurable and achievable but would it be relevant for say, an office manager?

The goals you choose need to have a direct line-of-sight to your company’s business vision, mission and objectives.

Time-bound

You must set a deadline to every goal. That’s something that we see sorely lacking here, especially for small businesses. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day crises and you lose sight of your long-term goals.

You create a sense of urgency by putting a deadline to your goals. It also ensures that your team remains accountable.