Make Your Goals SMART

It’s that time of year where many make New Year’s resolutions – unfortunately only 9% of people achieve their goal. Good intentions are a great start. Many fail because the goal is ill-defined, over-ambitious, or unrealistic.

Your organization, just like us as individuals, is much more likely to achieve success with specific goals. SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) are very popular because they are effective. Let’s break down the challenges inherent in the way most of us set New Year’s resolutions — which is also the way many organizations set goals.

A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

A non-SMART personal goal:  I want to save money.

That’s admirable and yet probably not enough.

Some challenges: This general goal fails to answer key questions like why, how, what for and by when? If you are planning to sock away your tax return that’s one thing. If you can only set aside $10 per week that’s another. Are you saving for retirement or are you saving up for a vacation? Do you need the money next month or next year?

A non-SMART organizational goal: We want to grow sales.

That’s a good start yet leaves too many questions.

Some challenges: How much do you want to grow sales and what is your time frame? Do you want to sell more of your current product to new customers or do you have a new product to sell? Are you expanding geographically or through a new delivery channel? Will you need to add any sales or support staff to support the growth? How will you monitor to ensure that the sales growth is increasing your profit margin?

Solution: SMART goals

You probably thought through and discussed most of these details so it’s just a matter of documenting the specifics. Why? Personnel changes happen, priorities shift, memories can get fuzzy, surprises distract us…it’s more efficient and effective to record the answers now than to waste time re-visiting all of these questions later.

Next week we’ll take a look at these same goals using a SMART template.

sneak peek: SMART goal infogram


One thought

  • I can’t stress the importance of documentation while fresh and having an intelligent method of retrieval when the players move on or perhaps organizational structure changes. Nothing smacks of wasted time, talent and resources than covering the same ground repeatedly.

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