Accomplishing a goal is no easy feat. Many people enter the new year with ambitious goals that can quickly fail within the first month. When this happens, it’s because their goal was not clearly defined. Instead, it was merely an intent. Intents are required to get started with the goal process, but they only spark the initiation of a goal. Following the SMART approach to goal setting, managers and leaders can build more accurate goals for them and their teams and generate more results. But first, let’s see what are SMART goals?
What Are SMART Goals?
Goals that follow the SMART criteria are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. The acronym was invented as an easy tool for creating achievable goals. Many people who feel like they intend to try to achieve something implement this method. When they do, they often find that one of the elements is missing. For a goal to succeed, it must include all five components. Below are examples of SMART goals for managers that lack one of the major elements.
Intent vs. Goal
An intent arises in the present concerning something in your life. An intent might linger around for a while, but it will not develop into anything long-term without purpose or planning. On the other hand, a goal is something one aims to arrive at in the future. For a goal to be accomplished, a reason behind the goal has to exist, which is the intent. One cannot accomplish something they do not genuinely want to do. For someone to increase their chances of achieving a goal without failure, they must use an accountability method like SMART goals.
How Managers Can Improve Their SMART Goals?
- Not specific: “Increase profits.”
While this might indeed be the aim of every manager, it lacks the first significant element of SMART — specific. For a goal to be achieved, it must be as detailed as possible. If it is too vague, the goal might take off in many directions, ultimately not reaching any sort of resolution. For making a goal as specific as possible, a good starting point is to consider all the five W’s: who, what, where, when and why. The more specific a manager defines a goal, the more likely their team will understand and can work together to reach the goal.
Further, if the language detailing the goal is unclear, your team members might be confused and not understand the goal’s objective. For example, avoid words with numerous interpretations, such as “increase profits by excelling in sales.” This language is ambiguous as “excelling in sales” could be interpreted differently. Instead, the language could be “increase profits by using the customer-centric approach when selling.” While this sentence is specific, it lacks the next element of the SMART goal setting method, which will be added below.
- Not measurable: “Increase profits by using a customer-centric approach when selling.”
While the above sentence is specific, it needs to be fleshed out some more to make it measurable. Progress made concerning the goal has to be measured in some way to provide whether the goal is getting closer to being attained. For example, to improve the above sentence, one might add: “increase profits by using a customer-centric approach to sell X number of units.”
- Not attainable: “increase profits by using a customer-centric approach to sell 1000000 units.”
If your company is a smaller business, then it is likely that the above is not attainable. For a goal to be feasible, it has to be realistic. While goals should be ambitious, they should be entirely out of the ballpark for your business. This will just lead your teammates to feel overwhelmed and defeated. Instead, the number should be much more reasonable depending on what you are selling and your sales team’s size.
- Not relevant: “increase profits by using a customer-centric approach to sell X number of units to customers outside of the U.S.”
This goal would be irrelevant in the case where you have not yet expanded your business internationally. As mentioned above, it is good to be ambitious, but you want to keep your goal relevant to what you aim to accomplish in the near future. If expanding your company’s business internationally is rather far out of your team’s reach, it is best not to include it yet until you reach your goals within the country and take the next step towards expansion.
- Not time-bound: “increase profits by using the customer-centric approach to sell X number of units.”
The above goal is lacking a time-bound element. If there is no deadline, the goal might remain on a to-do list indefinitely. Instead, this goal can be expanded to include a due date: “increase profits by using the customer-centric approach to sell X number of units by the end of the year.” Including a due date allows your teammates to plan their timeline and place the goal into context.
To set SMART goals that meet all the mentioned criteria, consider using our SMART Goal Setting Worksheet. Copy the template contents to your own Google Sheet document, fill it in, upload your goals with time estimates to actiTIME and track time against them. Use widgets, charts and reports to see if you stay on track and adjust your strategy.
SMART Goals Disadvantages
While SMART goals contain the essential components for completing a goal, some criticize that they are not specific enough to accommodate for more complex goals. Many examples of SMART goals for managers may not suit every team. For example, they lack factors that require consideration, such as changes in priorities. As the SMART approach is rather rigid, no element accounts for unexpected changes that likely occur throughout projects. Additionally, others may not agree with this method if it does not fit their aspirations. While the SMART method is excellent for those who want to work towards goals with clear endpoints, some people prefer to set long-term goals with no deadline in mind.
How Managers Can Achieve Their SMART Goals More Easily?
Some examples of SMART goals for managers might struggle to stick to the time-bound element for achieving goals. Using time tracking software can benefit managers who work with deadlines by analyzing intelligent data to improve their productivity. actiTIME can help managers and team members stay on top of the project’s activities and resources, ultimately leading them to succeed in their SMART goals.