With the end of the year around the corner, many of us start to set goals for the new year. These goals involve our personal lives, career or business development. For some, achieving goals comes easily, others time after time end with a list full of unrealized goals.
These goals lack clear guidelines connected to achieving the said goal and it is far from our actual capabilities and our current life situation. Obviously, I am aware of the ‘BHAG’ concept, but today I would like to focus on the matters of effectiveness and reality. Looking at the topic from the perspective of a leader, who wishes to improve his work effectiveness, such unachievable goals would be: improve the quality of communication with the team apply received feedback increase digital efficiency.
Let’s start with something easy. Yes, I am aware that everybody knows this model. I also believe that we make use of it with great success. To make things a bit more interesting, I have chosen the longer version of the model with the E.R. at the end. For those less experienced it will be a short introduction, for the rest of you - a reminder that it is sometimes worth to refresh old topics. First of all, the academic approach. This reads A as Agreed since in this case, we were dealing with setting group goals. In academic literature, this model was first mentioned by George T. Doran in his article ‘There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives’ published in Management Review. The individual letters have a lot of possible explications, depending on the author or the usage. Below, I present those I like the most:
- S - specific
- M - measurable
- A - achievable
- R - relevant
- T - time bound
- E - ecological
- R - recorded
For most people, the adventure with the SMART model ends with listing those expressions, however, we can dig deeper and find there is more to them than meets the eye.
Specific - the goal should be clear and understandable
With being specific, besides the linguistic and motivational aspects, it is important to focus solely on actions that will bring us value. Will our leader be able to determine what he should really do by achieving the above-mentioned goals? It is worth asking ourselves a couple of questions that will help us specify our aspirations: - what do I REALLY want to achieve? - why is this goal important? - who is involved in reaching the goal? - what are the obstacles I can come across? - what resources I have to use in the process? - in what conditions I can reach my goal?
And the most important question: - if I imagine myself after achieving my goal, am I feeling happier?
Measurable - the goal should contain success indicators
We should know when we reach our destination. Besides correctly specifying what we will be measuring, we should also know the beginning state connected to our intentions. The key element connected to this aspect of the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. model is measuring the appropriate indicators. If our leader would like to improve communication with his team, he should consider whether the goal: - conduct at least 6 meetings with the team in the next 2 months
will make the effectiveness and quality of the leader’s conversations improve. Is increasing the number of meetings the right solution or maybe it would be better to focus on active listening, building a feedback-based culture or use the communication improving tools?
Achievable - the goal should be possible to achieve
We should set ambitious goals, however, they should still remain within our reach. We have to think about whether, taking into account our current resources, we are able to achieve them. If we find our goal to be too difficult or too distant, we can divide it into smaller ones, modify or look for alternatives. We should consider whether the final outcome is up to ourselves or depends on some external circumstances or whether other people can become obstacles on our way.
Relevant - the goal should be connected to something that is important to us
Sometimes, when we think about why it is so hard for us to succeed it turns out that in fact, we are accomplishing someone else’s goals. Make sure that what you want to achieve is truly important to you, that the thought of the future success is what motivates you. Do you only see challenges or problems standing in your way? This is where we reach the key point of reaching goals. Often we are ineffective because the goals we set for ourselves come from social pressure, other’s expectations or our own visions of who we should be. If we happen to have doubts here, it is worth coming back to the very beginning and think about whether the goal really is clear and understandable.
Time-bound - the goal should have a deadline
This aspect seems to be obvious that is why we are going to just ask one question to consider. Will your motivation and the probability of success be the same in both cases? 1. In the first quarter of 2019, I will conduct 12 feedback sessions with my team. 2. In the first quarter of 2019, every week, my team will take part in one feedback session.
Ecological - the goal should have a positive influence on the environment
Although some may think about the natural environment by ‘environment’ I mean what influence will our goal have on who we are and the way we collaborate with people around us. It is where we should think if our chosen way of reaching our goals is right and ethical, whether heading towards our goals we are not hurting others. - how reaching this goal will influence me and the people around me (both personally and professionally) - is the road to reaching my goal consistent with my values and emotions, will it change me as a person?
Recorded - the goal should be written down
Brian Tracy says that when we write down our goals the things that were once fleeting are now physical. His study shows that people who write down their goals have 10 times greater chance to reach them. And by writing down I mean physically writing down your goals on a piece of paper or in a notebook. This way we help our brain connect the visual part of our brain to the kinesthetic one. Obviously, later on, it is worth to transfer our thoughts together with the plan to the cyber world.
Thank you to all who managed to get to the very end of this article. I hope some of the guidelines will help you improve the effectiveness of your actions.
Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and experiences with the SMART or SMARTER model.