Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about what you want to achieve, and for motivating yourself to be able to achieve what you want. A Goal is a clear statement of what needs to be accomplished over a period of time.
SMART objectives are:
- Specific – states exactly what you need to achieve
- Measurable – includes a quality or quantity measure
- Agreed – between you and your Reviewer
- Realistic – can be challenging but must be achievable
- Time-bound – with a clear end date or timescale
Here are some tips for ensuring that your objectives are SMART:
- What exactly is the goal you want to achieve?
- What does a good job look like?
Goals should be clear and state what you are expected to achieve, using actions to describe what will need to be done. For example:
- Not specific: Encourage the team to work harder
- Specific: Increase performance in the team
Not specific: Conduct research
Specific: Formulate plans for research on topic X
- Is there a way to track progress?
- What are the measures?
- How will you now when you have achieved the Goal?
Goals should include a quality/quantity point. This is so you can measure if you have achieved them and also let you know if you are on track. For example:
- Not measurable: Increase performance in the team
- Measurable: Increase performance in the team from X% to X%
- Not measurable: Formulate plans for research on topic X
- Measurable: Formulate plans for research on topic X and submit details for project sign off.
- Is the goal important to you and your job?
- Is the Goal aligned to the business Goals?
- Is the Goal relevant to your job?
Goals should be agreed between you and the person responsible for ensuring you work hard to achieve your goals. It is this agreement that will ensure they are inline with the company Goals and are the right Goal for you to be working on.
- Do you need extra training and development?
- What barriers might get in the way?
- Who else might be involved?
- Who else does it affect?
Goals should always be challenging but achievable i.e. they should not be unrealistic. It might be realistic to plan to lose 8 pounds in weight but would it be realistic to lose 8 pounds in one week? You should also take time to look at the skills, knowledge and resources needed to achieve them.
- When will the Goal be completed?
You should always put a timeframe on your Goal, a specific deadline that tells you exactly when you will need to be completed. For example:
- Not time-bound: Increase performance in the team from X% to X%
- Time-bound: Increase performance in the team from X% to X% over the next 30 days until 30th September
- Not Time-bound: Formulate plans for research on topic X and submit grant application to X Research Council
- Time-bound: Formulate plans for research on topic X and submit details for project sign off by 1 October 2015.
When some Goals are on-going and take a long time to complete you may want to think about adding in milestones. Break your Goal down in to smaller parts with specific deadlines that you can meet and move forward with.
Once you have got started with your Goal, it is always a great idea to get feedback. Going public and sharing your Goals with people means that you will have a higher chance of success. Asking people for feedback as you go means that you will continue to develop and also, get the motivation you need to keep going and achieve all that is possible.