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Why set SMART goals?

One or several goals helps us articulate what we wish to achieve, such as learning a new language or reaching a specific sales target. Research confirms that benefits of goal setting include establishing a higher performing professional culture on an individual, team and organisational level, and a more satisfied workforce. For best effect, goals should not be defined on a standalone basis, but rather be associated with clearly formulated and measurable milestones, as well as deadlines. Structuring work this way means that all workstreams and efforts to reach the final goal are highly focused, that progress (or lack thereof) is trackable, and that these measures have been selected on the basis of being most likely to result in full goal attainment.

Conversely, the absence of goals prevents the development of a feeling of cohesiveness among colleagues, creates a risk that people lose sight of where their team is heading and how their efforts tie into the organisation’s strategic direction, as well as mission and vision.

The SMART goal framework is a useful framework for planning, structuring and executing work towards a specific goal. It is a user-friendly methodology, in that it instructs which aspects of a goal and associated milestones should be included, and how these should be formulated to have best effect. This combination makes the SMART framework very powerful and significantly increases the chances of the goal at hand actually being reached.

It does not, however, help you identify the goals as such, i.e. SMART does not answer the question “what do I/we want to achieve”. This is something that needs to be done in a separate process, but applying the SMART framework ensures that the goals (once identified) are formulated in a manner which will help you or your organisation achieve them. SMART goals are by definition Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound, and examples hereof include:

  • Sign five new clients in January 2021
  • Complete the on-boarding process of 10 new sales representatives during Q4 2020
  • Finalise all employee year-end reviews by 15 December 2020
  • Finish one sub-4 hour marathon by 30 June 2021

The benefits of having well-defined and trackable goals, wrapped in a meaningful timeframe cannot be overstated. It provides the necessary clarity of direction for in terms of work required to achieve the goal, and establishes a true sense of belonging and relevance among everyone involved in the process. Being able to measure progress made ensures that a course correction can be undertaken swiftly if needed, and that future workflow can be fine-tuned according to the learnings made underway in the current/other projects.

By: Johan Flodgren

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