What’s the difference between having New Year’s resolutions and a list of goals for your business? The so-called resolutions are wishes, while the latter has a design and specific structure. At least, that’s how it should be.
Successful business owners use the SMART strategy to draw a battle plan for the year ahead. They know where they want to go and how to get there in the period of time at their disposal. Otherwise, you risk working hard for a year (or more) and have nothing to show for it at the end.
However, just because managers and business owners are aware of this practice, it doesn’t mean everyone in the company knows how to use goal setting to their advantage. Yet, when done right, it can help improve employee engagement and can drive up performance and productivity.
Also read: 7 Reason Why Goal Setting Is Important
Setting and meeting goals is quite challenging, but it gets easier when you have all the right tools and in-depth knowledge of how things work. That’s why, in today’s article, we are going to have a look at the meaning behind SMART goals and talk about the most important steps to take when setting employee goals.
What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
Goals defined by this method are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART, in short). The strategy was developed as a management concept and the clever naming made it extremely popular all over the world.
But what exactly does it mean?
Even when you know each letter’s meaning, it can still be difficult to fully grasp the power of this strategy. Here are a few pointers:
- Specific: Your goals need to be specific and focus on an area for improvement that can be easily defined
- Measurable: It’s important to have an indicator of progress to give you an idea of how things are evolving.
- Achievable: The goal has to be achievable using the resources at your disposal. Also, you have to name those resources and understand how you’ll use them.
- Realistic: What results do you expect after the goal is achieved and are they realistic given your current situation?
- Time-related: Your goal needs a specific time frame, with well-timed intervals, in order to see its progression in time.
How to Implement SMART Employee Goal Setting
#1: Involve Your Team
When setting employee goals, you need to consider the way they can improve. That’s why it makes complete sense to include them in the goal-setting process.
Be open about the company’s growth strategy and talk to your team about what’s in store for them. What type of projects they should expect, what type of resources will be at their disposal, and the timeframe for it all.
When developing your SMART goals, ask for their opinion on the elements that affect them directly. For instance, if a developer tells you the timeframe for Project X is too tight, ask for more details. Learn why they think this way and create these goals together.
Doing so inspires a sense of commitment and community within the team. Coincidentally, according to JobSage, goal transparency and collaboration in setting them should be part of the core company values.
#2: Connect Individual Goals with Business Objectives
Do you know your employee’s individual goals for development? In some organizations, employees are handed the goals (or targets, if you want) at the start of the reporting period. In such cases, there isn’t much employee involvement in developing these goals. More importantly, there’s no connection between the view of the company and that of the employees.
On the other side, when employees’ individual goals are part of the goal-setting process, it results in performance improvement. In recent years, we see more and more organizations create team-performance goals that are connected to functional business objectives in order to allow individuals to grasp the impact of their own actions within the company.
So how do you do that?
It all starts with knowing the individual goals of your team members. As the manager, you should know who wants more flexibility in their schedule, who wants more freedom when it comes to execution, and who would like to climb the ladder. Once you have the data, it’s easier to find common ground between business objectives and employees’ individual goals.
#3: Create Flexible Goals
In the world of business, nothing is absolute; everything needs to be adjusted in order to make sure the goals, actions, and overall company direction correspond with the real world. Otherwise, there’s no reason to spend hours on end planning your battle plan!
Therefore, in order to stay relevant, goals must be adjustable on the go without changing the meaning (unless it’s necessary).
Here is a hypothetical situation when a goal may need adjusting.
A company plans to increase its brand’s social media presence by the end of the first trimester of 2022, using Facebook as the main channel. They want 20% more followers and a 10% better engagement rate. However, if Facebook drops in popularity and most of its target audience avoids it, there’s no need to continue with this channel.
In this situation, the company would find the next most popular channel and adapt their goal’s targets accordingly. They will continue to use the same marketing team and most of the planned resources, but there will be some adjustments in the grand scheme of things.
The same can happen with your team members. Their goals may change as time goes by and sometimes, you’ll find that what used to be relevant at the start of the reporting period no longer makes sense. That’s OK, as long as you can adjust the goals and keep going.
Many employees dread the annual performance review (even the ones who know they’ve been good during the year). This happens because the organization doesn’t leave room for growth and learning when things don’t go as planned.
In most cases, a failure to achieve goals says a lot more about the goal-setting process than it does about the ones executing them. So managers and business owners should use the performance review as a learning opportunity. It’s also a way to see what works and what doesn’t work within your organization, since each business environment is unique.
Want to know how Engagedly can help you set SMART goals? Request a demo from our experts.
Guest blog contribution by Enrique Garcia
Enrique is responsible for managing partnerships between reputable brands worldwide for BrandMatcher.io. He is agile in finding opportunities where others would recognize them as non-existent and has an instinct to differentiate between what works from what doesn’t. The perfect duo since it combines two things he loves best about the digital spectrum – writing & growth!