Tips For Setting Effective SMART Goals
Team goal setting is fundamental in any organization. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your team’s work direction; but also provides you with a benchmark to determine whether the business objectives are being met.
Your teams need goals to be productive. A specific goal-setting criterion leads to a faster performance improvement than the general outlines, which are vague with no sense of direction.
Over time, several strategies of effective goal setting have been established. Out of all, the SMART GOALS framework brings the best trackability and results into your goals and objectives.
What is the SMART Goal Framework?
The November 1981 issue of ”Management Review” contained a paper by George T. Doran called ”There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives”.
The word SMART here is an acronym. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
Specific- Particular and precisely defined.
Measurable- Identifiable success metrics.
Achievable- Realistic to attain.
Relevant- Keeping the team goals aligned with the overall objective.
Timely- Time-bound efforts for well-received goals.
Here Are Some Tips For Setting Goals With The SMART Framework
Great goals are well-defined and particular. The moment you make your goal specific, it provides you the clarity and focuses required to get the most out of your efforts.
As a manager, decide what your team should hope to achieve weeks from now. Then write down one specific goal following this goal-setting formula:
"I will (goal + performance measure) By (specific actions)."
For example, in the case of sales team performance management, it will be like:
“We will increase our sales by 10% in 3 months by running extra promotions.”
Before setting your team goal, look at your data set for relevant insights. Writing down a vision statement will help your team implement the strategies for growth. Make your statement as specific as you can by defining precisely what you hope to achieve.
This tells you to break down the team efforts into specific sub-goals, making them measurable and practical to accomplish the overall goal.
A measurable goal helps to know how you are doing and how much progress you have made. Thus, it provides a tangible means to evaluate success.
It can be recorded routinely and analyzed in order to know if the team efforts are being effective.
Here's how you can measure goal achievements:
- Establish Metrics: Metrics prove to be a great medium of performance management. Without predetermined metrics, as a manager, you cannot determine whether your team is performing up to the mark or not.
Let’s take an example.
If you say, ‘’Get more responses from cold emails.”, it is difficult to understand the achievable. But “Get 50% more conversion rate from cold emails.’’ can help your team members clearly understand your expectations. Here, ‘conversion rate’ acts as the metric which inspires your team to work in relation to the set goal.
- Sit with your team
Meetings with the team can be an open opportunity to come together, reflect on progress and help each other. It can be in the form of:
Weekly status update meets: The primary objective here is to get updates on the progress, challenges, and the next steps towards the final goal.
Monthly OKRs (Objectives and Key Results): SMART goals itself plays a significant role in shaping today’s OKRs. With monthly OKR meets, you can track the progress and boost team morale.
Under each objective, there should be 3-5 measurable Key Results. Each Key Result can be measured on a score of 0-100% or 0 to 1.0. Based on the OKR status, you can adjust the work course if needed to suit the long term goal.
Problem-solving meets: In order to ensure a smooth approach towards the goal, occasional meetings are important in order to identify priorities, opportunities, and threats. In the same sitting, possible solutions should be brainstormed, evaluated, and agreed upon by all the team members.
- Meet one on one with team members
Know how the individual team member is feeling about his or her role. There can be matters that they don’t want to bring up in the team meetings. Not addressing individual issues can negatively impact team performance.
Before setting a goal for your team, make sure that it is achievable- by reference to the abilities of your team members.
There might be a combination of things weighing on the minds of your team members urging them to quit midway. Therefore before setting a goal, make sure that it is realistic- something that is possible to achieve. This would save your team from getting demotivated.
Secondly, make a list of all the skills, knowledge and information they will need to obtain, in order to achieve that goal. Almost all goals will require that your team members improve their abilities in some way. Help them to be active and focused on the vision.
However, resist your urge to set goals that are too easy for your team. This can bring fear while accomplishing the complicated goals in the future. As a manager, you should learn to hit the right balance that your team needs.
Your team goals should be relevant to the overriding objectives of the organization. Let’s understand this with the help of an example:
Suppose you have a website that sells employee engagement products. It also contains a blog space for articles written by your team members. A goal of writing 10-15 blogs in a week would be completely irrelevant if it doesn't lead to more sales of the products.
In simple words, the goal needs to provide value and be aligned with the company’s overall strategies.
This step is especially important because it supports all the others. A goal with no start and no end cannot be specific or measurable, and there is a strong chance it won’t be attainable.
So, what does a timely goal mean? It means that your goal will be achieved within a reasonable and suitable time, avoiding any premature conclusion. Every goal must have a deadline so that you can be certain about when it can be achieved.
Each time your team members reach a sub-goal, make sure they push themselves a little harder. This will ensure a better movement towards their long term goal.
Many team managers have taken this goal-setting process to another level, by adding an ‘ER’ to SMART, making it a SMARTER Goal.
Here Are Few Examples of SMART goals Setting
- To be used by Editorial Team
Specific: I want to increase the blog traffic by 10% during the next three months.
Measurable: We will re-optimize the 10 best blogs to make it better and aim for at least 15 high-quality backlinks to them.
Achievable: Getting backlinks may take time. After re-optimizing the 10 blogs in 15 days, at least 100 websites should be approached for backlinking in order to achieve the goal.
Relevant: Blog traffic will let potential customers know about our customers. This plan is the best way to increase product sales.
Timely: We have three months to achieve the goal which will help the business growth in the next financial quarter.
- To be used by Customer Help Desk
Specific: We have to deliver customer support with an 80%+ Satisfied/Very Satisfied customer satisfaction rate by the end of March.
Measurable: After every one month, we will measure objectively, whether or not we can achieve the target.
Achievable: With an improvement in the customer experience, it is achievable.
Relevant: As long as customers stay satisfied, they will prefer buying our goods. Thus, it will help in promoting customer retention in the long run.
Timely: We set a period of four months time frame to attain this goal.
- To be used by HR Management team
Specific: In order to meet the increasing demands of our services, we set the goal of increasing our employees’ headcount from 1500-1900 in 1 year.
Measurable: Fast forward 6 months, we aim to take in at least 250 people.
Achievable: Just like the previous years, we can receive thousands of applications, by using a systematic process for employee recruitment. Only the right candidate pool can contribute to the needs of the organization. Here, the selection is the real challenge.
Relevant: It goes with our goal of overall increased revenue for the year, which demands at least 50% more return per employee.
Timely: We will accomplish this in one year of duration.
All the steps might not happen in order all the time, and that’s all right. Each step should make sense to your team performance. Choose the steps in an order that fits in your picture.
Setting smart goals. But, dedication and a well thought out strategy can certainly help.
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