In any organisation, when team members need tackle a long-term goal, it can feel daunting to put the steps together to make it happen. Fortunately, there are myriad tools and resources at your disposal to break down business goals into manageable tasks and make them achievable.
Read on to learn how goal-setting the S.M.A.R.T. way and incorporating promises into your action plan can create successful outcomes, as well as examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you plan your own.
The S.M.A.R.T. acronym was conceived in 1981 by George T. Doran, a prior director of corporate planning in his notable paper 'There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives'. The acronym stuck as businesses found success by setting specific goals with this effective goal planning method.
You can set S.M.A.R.T. business goals by following Doran's acronym:
S.M.A.R.T. goals are laser-focused and leave little room for confusion. They answer the 5 W's — who, what, where, when and why. They define who will do what by when — and why it's important. This way, every team member knows which specific actions they are responsible for.
Goals are only useful if they can be measured. Companies must employ a method to track progress towards set goals and motivate employees to continue working towards them. Measurable goals help you to move closer towards the end result that you desire.
There's no faster way to de-motivate your team than getting them excited about a lofty business goal, then encountering a harsh reality check when they realise it's out of reach. Performance goals need to be challenging yet attainable.
Do your own goals align with your mission statement and core values? Stay true to your overall business objectives by setting goals that fit the brand and culture of your organisation. Tie these employee goals into your wider development plan and organisational goals to gain the most benefit.
Each specific goal needs to have realistic timing and time constraints. Giving team members a target motivates employees to surpass expectations and work together.
For example, here is a S.M.A.R.T. goal example for writing a book in a specific time frame that considers both short-term and final goals:
Specific: I will publish a book about sales development and lead generation through social media, aligned with my company’s mission of at least 200 pages.
Measurable: I will write five to 10 pages per day.
Attainable: I will select and hire a publisher to edit my book.
Relevant: Publishing this book will help establish my business as an influencer in sales development for small business owners.
Time-Bound: I will have a draft of my the book in six months and it will be published within 12 months.
Writing S.M.A.R.T goals doesn't have to be difficult. There's no shortage of free S.M.A.R.T. goal setting templates available online to help you build a S.M.A.R.T. action plan. In general, the method for setting initial goals follows a standardised process. Writing out your goals on a worksheet can assist team members in identifying S.M.A.R.T. objectives and setting personal goals.
Each S.M.A.R.T. goal should have a goal statement and be flexible enough to bend with changes in organisational direction and dynamic business trends. Use an action plan template combined with S.M.A.R.T. goal setting to set actionable, achievable goals.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is a great first step towards reaching business goals, but the next step is ensuring they are followed and measured. Using S.M.A.R.T. goals templates to record individual goals is only useful if you have a process in place to follow up and hold team members accountable.
Layer Promise-Based Management and Social Discipline into your strategy and business plan to dramatically increase adherence to S.M.A.R.T. goals while building employee motivation and engagement. When employees make public promises to one another, they hold themselves accountable to meeting their performance plan goals which feed into your business action plan.
A key characteristic of Social Discipline involves making binding commitments to deliver on one's promises in a public space. Social Discipline creates a transparent setting that sets the stage for individual accountability. Companies that utilize crafting measurable promises foster a productive, trusting environment that helps teams exceed performance expectations.
Similar to writing S.M.A.R.T. goals, making good promises is key to making them effective. The most important component of weaving promises into S.M.A.R.T. action plans is making sure your team members know how to craft thoughtful, intentional promises they are capable of keeping. All promises should be:
When team members make commitments that are visible in a transparent setting, they are obligated to honor them to maintain trust with their team and protect their integrity.
Promises are living, dynamic commitments. Potential problems regarding timelines and completion dates need to be addressed prior to making any promise and can be altered over time.
Peer pressure isn't part of crafting good promises. Commitments should be mindfully discussed so the employee making the promise maintains ownership of it and is invested in holding themselves accountable.
Just as S.M.A.R.T. goals need to be specific, the best promises are crystal clear and leave no questions unanswered regarding who is responsible for specific tasks.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are relevant and effective promises are mission-based. Every commitment should clearly point to the company mission.
Layering promises into a S.M.A.R.T goal make them stronger. For example, a S.M.A.R.T. goal with promises could look like this:
Public: A team member makes a promise to onboard a new client by the end of the quarter.
Active: The onboarding timeline is laid out with specific checkpoints including training dates and key objectives. This can be modified over time based on the client’s needs.
Voluntary: The employee responsible for fulfilling the commitment writes and updates the promise, rather than his or her manager.
Explicit: The who, what, where, when and why are spelled out here. The new client will have completed training and the project will go within six months. The customer will receive support as needed, including monthly check-ins.
Mission-Based: Onboarding the client in a timely manner and exceeding customer satisfaction ratings are the foundation of the company’s mission to outperform competitors.
Suppose every individual team member and each department has identified their goals using S.M.A.R.T. goal templates. What's the best way to collaborate on goals while tracking and measuring progress towards them?
Measuring your company's S.M.A.R.T. goals doesn't have to be complicated. With the right software and training, company leaders and human resources can measure S.M.A.R.T. goal progress organisation-wide in one place and make progress transparent.
With the right software, there's no need for managers to collect individual S.M.A.R.T. goal templates from employees and having to spend time in meetings updating them regularly. The best programs remove cumbersome barriers to managing S.M.A.R.T. goal progress by reducing time spent in meetings, measuring progress in real-time and making results available at the click of a button.
To help you find the right solution for your business, we’ve created this guide on what every organisation should look for in teamwork software.
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