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  • Writer's pictureDirk Baerts

Be SMART with your goals

Operating an organization without clear objectives or goals is like driving a car without a destination: while it might be fun for some time, ultimately you are just burning fuel and rubber, the fun wears off & the drive stops. An organization without clear goals is likely to follow the same pattern: when people in an organization do not have a clear view of what the organization is trying to achieve and what the direction of the organization is, with no indication of what to do and what success looks like, they will ultimately get discouraged & demotivated, and leave. The organization will be left floundering and, in the end, fail as well.

Every organization, whether it is an enterprise, a not-for-profit agency, or a sports club, needs clear goals and objectives, aligned with its purpose. These need to be set at the very start, and be reviewed & updated regularly, and clearly communicated & distributed throughout the organization. Everyone needs to understand what their contribution is expected to be as part of “the bigger picture”, so they can join forces, cooperate, and deliver a team result.

The SMART model lends itself very well for setting engaging and challenging goals within an organization, both for teams as well as for the individual contributor. In the SMART model, goals should be simple, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

  • Simple: “keep it simple” is key when setting objectives, don’t overcomplicate the goals. If an objective starts servicing multiple purposes, split it up so one goal supports one objective.

  • Measurable: you need to be able to capture and evaluate goals in an objective way, and clearly communicate the metric and evaluation method beforehand. This will prevent confusion around the chosen path forward and will help eliminate challenging discussions when achievements are being reviewed.

  • Attainable: there should be a path towards reaching the target, and the individual or team should be provided the right means and resources to succeed in reaching the set goal. There is nothing as frustrating as trying to pick the apple from the tree when the ladder is way too short.

  • Realistic: only realistic goals will engage people and get them to commit. There is a big difference between putting up a challenge or setting the team up for failure: the former will lead to team engagement and builds team spirit & cooperation, the latter will lead to low morale and ultimately undermine leadership.

  • Timely: don’t leave goals open-ended or with an unclear completion date, make sure there is a well-defined timetable & end date attached to them. Only that way will there be a sense of urgency created and will action be initiated.

Using the smart model offers many advantages when setting goals and objectives. It has the benefit of being clear, easy to use and allowing for effective communication. It creates a framework to alert individuals and teams when deviation is happening, and corrective action is needed. Most importantly though, the SMART model sets clear milestones on the road to success, that can be celebrated when hit and surpassed.

I2ACT Canada has extensive experience advising organizations with business planning and goals & objectives definition. We can provide support to your organizations in developing, communicating, and measuring smart and impactful goals. If you want to learn more about the advisory services I2ACT Canada can offer and the support we can bring to your organization, visit the website or contact Dirk Baerts.

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