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Putting a SMART plan into action will allow you to stay on track and achieve your end goal, making you more accountable at every stage of the process. Here's everything you need to know about setting SMART objectives.
What does SMART stand for?
Specific - A smart plan needs to be precise. Figure out what your goal is, for example is it a promotion you're looking for? Then ask yourself, what are the essential steps you need to take to get you there?
Measurable - Your goal needs to be measurable so you can track how you are performing. If you are going for a promotion do you need to gain specific qualifications or management experience? How long does each course take?
Achievable - Is your plan attainable? Your goal needs to be realistic and achievable.
Relevant - Make sure your plan is relevant at all times. Taking courses on irrelevant programmes will slow down your development so make sure your plan feeds the end goal.
Time bound - Your plan needs to be set against deadlines. Ensure you put in a time frame so that you stay on track and have sight of the finishing line.
Here are the benefits to utilising SMART objectives to improve your performance within the workplace:
1. Progress Monitoring
Creating a SMART action plan to achieve goals has a whole heap of benefits, and working towards a specific goal, within a specific timeframe allows you to regularly measure progress. As a result, you are able to ensure goals can be achieved, priority tasks are completed, and any areas of opportunities to improve are identified and remedied swiftly. Keeping a daily/weekly tracker of progress enables an easier process of Root Cause Analysis, so if the goal or target is not achieved, you are able to delve into the finer details to understand why. Monitoring progress and working flexibly to achieve goals show high levels of organisation and is certain to impress recruiters as you attempt to scale the lofty heights in your chosen vocation.
2. Improved Motivation
SMART goals and objectives help give you and your business direction and will aid daily decision making. According to research undertaken by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, colleagues that are working towards goals are 90% more likely to reach higher performance levels. Setting difficult goals can influence your level of performance by providing you with a sense of organisation, strategy and purpose. When SMART goals appear achievable, motivation levels improve as there are clear steps in place to achieve what is set out in front of you.
‘People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.’ - Elon Musk
3. Attainable Goals
Large goals can seem unrealistic and can quickly cause added stress and panic, which more often than not results in plans and targets not being achieved. It is easier to visualise success when long term goals are broken down into smaller, more regular time frames. If you have an annual target of attracting 1,000 new clients to your company, dividing that figure into a monthly target instantly instils confidence that it can be achieved, and allows for a more detailed progression plan.
4. Clearer Vision/Less Stress
If goals are not in place, focus can easily be lost and that can have an immediate impact on the needs of your business. Stress levels are known to affect productivity so maintaining a clear vision by setting SMART goals can aid performance and morale. Lowering stress levels in the workplace has a positive impact not only on morale, but on mental well-being too, the benefits of SMART goals are not restricted to the workplace.
‘As you can see, goal-setting creates a structure that allows you to visualize your success and mitigate stress. By laying out the blueprints for your future, you allow yourself tighter control and thus eliminate stress throughout your conquest. Your actions and obstacles no longer become singular or isolated, but part of the entire journey of your success. This knowledge makes your mind a bit more unbeatable.’ – Mark Divine, Author of Unbeatable Mind.
A 2010/11 study conducted by the University of West Florida determined the use of SMART goals and objectives regularly result in the outperformance of a team/individual who do not use such methods. In order to stay ahead of the game and emerge as the leading contender to your bosses and recruiters alike, use SMART action plans to show you can achieve the results they are looking for. The how is just as important as the what, so staying organised is key to success in any form of work.