The acronym SMART and SMARTER are often used when setting goals and objectives in work. Note, you sometimes see different variations of this acronym or mnemonic. Here are three variations that you sometimes see:
Note on variations:
With variations 1 and 2, some people argue that if an objective is achievable, then it is also realistic and therefore you do not need to include the word realistic in the mnemonic. They suggest that it is more important to confirm and check that the goal is relevant to what you or your business wants to achieve. With variation 3, people argue that if a goal is realistic, then it must be both achievable and also relevant to you or your work, therefore it is more important to ensure that the goal is assignable, that it can be assigned to an individual or team to achieve.
So, what do each of these words mean and how can they help in setting goals or objectives. Here is a quick explanation of what it means and some tips for using it, focusing on Variation 2:
A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:
Who: Who is involved?
What: What do I want to accomplish?
Where: Identify a location.
When: Establish a time frame.
Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
Additional questions to help assess your goals/objectives:
Is it clear and well defined?
Is it clear to anyone that has a basic knowledge of the work area?
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. It is important from the outset to establish if the goal is obtainable and how far away completion is, and how you will know when it has been achieved. When you measure your progress you stay on track, reach your tar-get dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:
How will I know when it is accomplished?
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals. You can achieve almost any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become achievable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals, you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.
Key things to consider to ensure that the goal is achievable:
Do I have agreement with all the stakeholders as to what the goals should be?
Is there a realistic path to achievement?
Can they be achieved within the availability of resources, knowledge and time?
It is important to check that your objectives are relevant to where you and your business are going. Are they aligned with your vision and mission? Will they help you achieve your vision and deliver your mission? Are these objectives relevant to growth? How are these objectives relevant in the current Political, Economic, Social and Technological contexts? Businesses often assume that the objectives that they set are relevant to them and their customers/clients. It is important to consciously check this and build this into your plan-
A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it, there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal. Some questions that can help with this are:
Is there enough time to achieve the goal?
Is there a time limit that we must work to?
Is there too much time allocated, which can negatively affect work performance?
In more recent years, the SMART mnemonic has been extended to become SMARTER. There is an acknowledgement that these goals or objectives must be meaningful to the individuals who will be tasked with delivering them. This is explained below:
This refers to the Goal or Objective taking your business and your staff further. It will help extend your business, your skills, knowledge and experience. It helps to grow your business and your staff. In doing this it helps you to consider and identify areas where you may need to train or skill up staff to ensure that the objective is achievable. It ensures that you consider the people involved in delivering the goals/objectives and what is in it for them.
All goals and objectives should be rewarding. They should bring rewards for the business through increased profit, better profile, improved customer relationships, brand loyalty and identity, etc. But also, this refers to the objectives being enjoyable to work towards. This again helps you consider the people involved in the objectives and ensuring that they find the work rewarding. If people feel appreciated and valued and enjoy their work then they will remain motivated, positive and engaged and ensure that your business achieves all its goals and succeeds.