How to set the right goals with the SMART method
Every day, they are used in the most diverse departments of a company: goals. And with good reason! Divided into short, medium and long term, they give each employee of a company a direction. However, if they are not set correctly, it can happen that they are not achieved in the end, despite the best intentions. The problem? The goals are not formulated SMART! What they are and why this is so important is therefore the subject of this week’s article.
What are SMART goals?
The SMART method is a tool designed to help in the formulation of goals. The acronym stands for:
In the meantime, there are also translations and conversions of the concept into German. However, since the meaning of some of the terms has been changed here, the following article uses the English terms.
Goals should therefore be formulated as precisely as possible, be measurable and realistic, have relevance for the company and be time-bound.
Example of a SMART goal: „With Facebook ads, I would like to acquire 20 new customers in my target group within one month, with an average advertising budget of no more than 15 euros for each new customer.“
A well-defined goal can lay the foundation for your company’s success in this regard. A clear and uniform direction is given to which all those involved can orient themselves. This also improves teamwork and consequently the motivation of each individual. The measurability later allows an objective assessment of whether a goal has really been achieved. In addition, the clear formulation forces everyone to really take a close look at the goal. This makes it easier to visualize and achieve results.
When goals are not SMART
Instead of SMART goals, however, it is often more common to express wishes and intentions, to which a company’s employees must then orient themselves. For example, „increase sales“, „reduce costs“ or even „generate more leads“.
However, these offer too much leeway and are formulated too imprecisely with regard to the actual extent. In general, too many questions remain open. As a result, the people involved may repeatedly give priority to other tasks or act in the wrong way. In this way, valuable time is lost that could be used for better goal achievement.
Goals should therefore be fundamentally formulated with the help of the SMART method and then also communicated. The individual components of the method are broken down in more detail below.
A specific objective is formulated as concretely and concisely as possible. There should be no room for misunderstanding. So instead of simply aiming for an increase or decrease in a certain key figure, a specific value or an increase or decrease by a certain value could be stated here.
The following five W-questions can help with this criterion:
- What is to be achieved?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it to be achieved?
- When is it to be achieved?
- Why is it important?
A goal should be measurable in order to be able to objectively assess its achievement later on. Therefore, a measurable criterion must be found for the respective project. Accordingly, note that you also need respective initial data.
Questions that should be answered:
- How much/how many?
- Which criterion do I use?
- How do I know that I have achieved the goal?
At the beginning it was discussed that SMART goals can motivate. However, they can only do so if they are actually achievable – in the eyes of everyone involved. If goals seem too utopian, people quickly capitulate and any progress is unlikely. Nonetheless, set goals should naturally present a certain challenge to stimulate creative thinking.
Questions to answer:
- Is the goal realistic?
- Do I have all the necessary resources to achieve the goal?
If a goal is not relevant to the company or the project, it naturally also makes little sense to work for it. However, this also includes aspects such as the timing of the goal and whether it conforms to the company’s vision.
You should be able to answer „yes“ to these questions:
- Is now the right time for this goal?
- Does the goal fit with the company goals being pursued?
To convey a sense of urgency and additionally increase motivation, the goal should be time-bound. Set a deadline, i.e. a specific date, or determine a time frame. This is also the best way to divide the remaining time into sections that you can use to achieve intermediate goals.
There is one central question here:
- When should the goal be achieved?
Goals are important, and in every department of a company. They give direction to employees and serve to motivate them. However, to ensure that they are really achieved, they should be one thing above all: SMART. So for each goal, question whether it actually meets the five criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound). The discussion usually also helps you to visualize the results and thus sets the ideal foundation for success.