What are SMART goals? How can they help you expand and clarify your goal-setting process?
Developing goals is critical to managing your own performance. The S.M.A.R.T goals methodology is a management tool which structures the setting of objectives and helps you to dig deeper into what you’ll need to achieve these objectives. You can apply the SMART methodology across any organisational area including project management, personnel development and employee performance management. Each letter is an attribute of your goal that you will use to expand your goal details:
Think about your areas of responsibility and the work that you are accountable for. You’ll want to create one goal to cover each area. Goals should be high-level enough to cover the core area of responsibility. If you’re creating too many goals you’ll likely find that the goal scope is too low and is geared towards individual tasks, not overall results.
Each goal is going to contain the five SMART attributes:
You need to be specific about what it is you want to achieve. Goals that are specific answer each of these questions:
‘Specific’ action verbs:
create, coordinate, devise, develop, evaluate, maintain, manage, oversee, plan, provide, support
What metrics will you use to determine goal progress and achievement? Using metrics makes a goal more material as it provides a measure of progress and milestones along the way. If the goal is short-term then just one milestone may be enough. For longer-term projects more milestones may be necessary.
Measurement can be qualitative or quantitative:
Far more metrics exist and they are sometimes difficult to determine. Each goal is individual, therefore there is no one-metric fits all formula. Managers and employees should work together to decide the best way to measure goal achievement.
The goals you set should be achievable; this doesn’t mean they should be easy. Good achievable goals should require some stretch: this encourages personal development. When writing this section, you should focus on what you can do to make the goal achievable. You should ask yourself what may need changing or developing (i.e. skills, resources or knowledge) in order to attain the goal.
Make sure that your goals are relevant to the current program of work. Ask yourself:
Make sure to put in place clear timelines. Without given time frames, the likelihood of you achieving your goal drops substantially. Goals which are linked to a time frame give a sense of urgency and allow for a clearly defined path to success. Ask what can be achieved in a given time span. Be realistic!
Let's take a look at an example goal that uses SMART attributes:
These are good starting points for your S.M.A.R.T goals. You may wish to develop these further. Alongside your goal statement include key tactics for achievement, milestones and their respective deadlines, and key personnel to work with during the project.
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