SMART goals = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound.
Many of us have heard this acronym before, perhaps in great volume. Maybe you’ve never heard of it. Regardless, let’s unpack the idea for a moment in service of producing results.
The bottom line on SMART goals is they are measurable and specific so as to create accountability and action. If you ask me to sell $25,000 of product by June 30, 2015, you and I have a clear objective and understanding of results. We interact and make decisions within the context of that goal. It’s very difficult for there to be ambiguity; I either sell that amount by that date or I don’t. Clarity at it’s best.
But we’re slippery creatures, us human beings. Accountability is frequently perceived as a burden, something to avoid. When asked to declare goals and objectives, we default to DUMB goals: Distracting, Unclear, Mystical, and BS goals. It’s not that we’re bad people or have ill-intent; we just don’t like accountability.
Here’s an example – your sales manager defines a quarterly goal of hosting a user conference. Certainly a useful event, but what is the actual SMART goal? Is hosting the conference the goal? Is an attendance number a goal? When folks attend the conference, what does your company want them to do next? This is a tricky one to call SMART.
There is certainly a disclaimer to make at this point. Ultimately, you and your team get to define what a SMART goal is and isn’t. Trial and error remains one of life’s greatest teachers. However, what if we took a more proactive approach to make that user conference a real success.
In this example, invite your sales manager to focus on two or three tangible results that the user conference would affect. In other words, if 100 users attend the conference, how much future revenue will be generated? What will they either do / buy at the conference or immediately following the conference? In clearly defining the tangible results post-conference, you will now more effectively design the conference experience. The goal no longer becomes just hosting the conference, but using it to drive a particular, tangible outcome; X by Y.
The more you create a culture of SMART goal setting, the more you create a culture of accountability. And the more you create a culture of accountability, the more you create a thriving organization.