In the Goal Setting Theory, there is a well known principle that can be applied to help you with setting your goals. Since its introduction, it has also become quite popular in other areas of management, like for instance project management. This principle is known as SMART.
Basically what SMART tries to achieve is to provide a framework that guides you towards sound Goal Setting Activities. In stead of randomly defining what it is you want to reach, it lays down a structured set of checks.
To achieve a goal, there is a process that you should implement. This process is to streamline and analyze your objectives. Begin at the very beginning at the smallest, specific part. These are the most important steps to take to meet the guidelines. An objective is a way of knowing what action or plan is to be taken and identifying the expected results. This plan provides a set of directions so that making the decision will not be as complicated as when the goal is just being considered.
Peter Ducker documented a book published in 1954 entitled Practiced Management wherein MBO which stands for Management By Objectives, was introduced. This is a program that consists of simple but very useful processes in order to meet commitments in an organization.
Management By Objectives consists of 5 steps, or checks which can be abbreviated to S.M.A.R.T.
1. It should be SPECIFIC. It is better to accomplish one goal at a time rather than thinking of several different plans at one time. A single objective cannot be derived if there are two or more results expected. What’s important is that there is a need to clarify what is to be achieved and should have your full attention. This must be taken as seriously as possible.
2.) It should be MEASURABLE. A lot of things that are not tangible are hard to measure and there are things that are really measurable for the mere fact that it includes numbers or ratings. Take the service crews for example, it is hard to measure how the service was delivered but if the number of complaints is counted then there is a specific number that can be used to rate the effectiveness of the service.
In offices, the number of tasks or assignments that were accomplished is used as basis for the measurement. Cooperation, though a very vague word can also be measured by means of getting a subordinate and peer survey. How fast or delayed assistance was provided to a certain individual is enough to provide information on how situations can be measured. Try not to use general terms when making an objective statement. It should be something clear and specific like: to write, to recite, to perform, to fix, to process, to designate, to purchase, to choose, to reprogram, etc.
3. It should be ATTAINABLE. The resources available give information on how an objective can be attained. This must be something that is derived from fact and very realistic. It could be that a certain objective is indeed realistic but the time frame to reap the result may not be. It is better to say objectives that can be factual for this promotes motivation rather than an objective taken from belief as this may cause unexpected failure and feeling of discouragement.
4. It should be RESULT ORIENTED. An objective should be stated clearly so that the expectation is clear. Focus on the end result as this will be the guide whether or not the objective to reach the goal is effective and meaningful. Is this objective going to help an individual grow or succeed? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Once the success has been attained and all the plans were completed then it is a success.
5. It should be TIME BOUND. There should be a limit to all the things needed to be accomplished. This matters since the root of any plan can be traceable. This will also tell if the objective is effective enough not to cause any delay. There will also be more of the sense of fulfillment once a goal is attained with the objectives set earlier than a deadline.
To sum it all up, develop an objective that is easily measured, can be attained, with a limited time, this will help in determining if the objective is realistic enough, meaningful, and proven to be worthwhile to everyone involved. A chart or journal can be kept to keep track of any opportunities and strengths that were met along the way. This will also indicate the time that was consumed and the length of the objective developed. A successful objective helps motivate the individual or the group involved toward greater achievements.
Apply SMART to each of your goal setting endeavors and you will quickly notice that you are actually reaching results, and that you are much more in control. Why? Because you do the correct thinking upfront, before you begin with anything. By correctly defining your goals or objective the SMART way, you will need less changes along the way. And less changes means losing less time and energy to correct, and actually getting the work done that you set out to do in the beginning. Try it yourself, and discover how powerful and smart SMART really is.