How to Set—and Stick to—Strategic Goals in the Workplace
Strategic planning is key to ensuring every company's long-term viability, and goal-setting is an indispensable step toward fulfilling those plans. Unfortunately, businesses often don't accomplish their overall strategic plans because they're unable to fully reach the various goals necessary to get there.
One solution to better conceiving and following through on goals? Follow the SMART approach.
The SMART acronym was first introduced to the business world in the early 1980s. Although its letters have been associated with different meanings over the years, they commonly stand for:
- Specific. Goals must be precise. So, if your strategic plan includes growing your business, your goals must explicitly state how you'll do just that. For each goal, define the "5 Ws"—who, what, where, when and why.
- Measurable. Setting goals is of little value if you can't also easily assess your progress toward them. Pair each goal with one or more metrics so you can measure progress and success. Perhaps success means increasing revenue by a certain percentage, or expanding your customer base by winning a certain number of new accounts.
- Achievable. Unrealistically aggressive goals can crush motivation. No one wants to put time and effort into endeavors that are likely to fail. Ensure that your goals can indeed be accomplished, but also that they aren't too easy. Rely on your own business experience and the feedback of trusted managers to set appropriately doable yet challenging goals.
- Relevant. After identifying an achievable goal, ask yourself whether and how it will move your business forward. Remember: Goals should directly and clearly support your long-term strategic plan. Don't be tempted by low-hanging fruits—goals that are easy to accomplish but actually lead nowhere.
- Timely. Assign a deadline to each goal. Doing so will motivate everyone involved by creating a sense of urgency. And after you've established deadlines, work backward and set periodic milestones to help everyone pace themselves toward the goals.
Strategic planning—and the goal-setting that should accompany it—might initially seem like a waste of time. But even if your business is thriving now, it's important to keep an eye on the future. Our firm would be happy to explain further and offer other ideas.
Read more about strategic planning on Whisman Giordano's blog.
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