The terms S.M.A.R.T and S.P.I.R.I.T. generally describe goals created to assist people improve the way they approach, set, and pursue their goals. Even though the phrases have developed in numerous ways, SMART stands for goals that are Specified, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely; while SPIRIT stands for objectives that are Specific, Prizes, Individual, Review, Inspiring and Time-Bound
Often, the phrase S.M.A.R.T. Goals and S.M.A.R.T. Objectives are employed. Although the term SMART generally stays the same, objectives and goals might alter. Goals are the unique purpose that is to be anticipated from the assignment or project, whereas objectives, on the other hand, are the defined stages that will direct full completion of the project goals.
Put very simply, SMART objectives (or SMART goals) is a tool designed to help organisations and individuals set objectives in an effective and productive manner. Specific and measurable objectives define the success of a project or initiative. Achievable and realistic objectives engage and motivate individuals. Time-bound objectives ensure that all stakeholders agree time scales for the achievement of objectives.
Both Peter Drucker (1955) and G.T.Doran (1991) have been credited with developing the model, although it is difficult to be certain whether either of these two were really the first people to use the term ‘SMART’ with reference to objectives. The concept of SMART objectives is commonly used by managers to set individual objectives within appraisal and performance management systems.
SMART i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound
- SPECIFIC – outline in a clear statement precisely what is required.
- MEASURABLE – include a measure to enable organisations to monitor progress and to know when the objective has been achieved.
- ACHIEVABLE (or AGREED) – design objectives to be challenging, but ensure that failure is not built into objectives. Objectives should be agreed by managers and employees to ensure commitment to them.
- REALISTIC (or RELEVANT) – focus on outcomes rather than the means of achieving them
- TIMELY (or TIME-BOUND): – agree the date by which the outcome must be achieved.
When at all possible, objectives, particularly those at the organisational level, should be made public and conveyed to colleagues, employees, teams, and even customers or suppliers, according to the principles of open communication. Everyone in the organisation should have a clear grasp of the organization’s objectives, as well as a clear understanding of their own role in accomplishing those objectives. This will assist in involving others who are not directly accountable for attaining the objectives and will also alert people to changes that may have an impact on their lives or careers.
Taking time to check to see whether we have done the right things will prevent us from having to learn from our mistakes
Deeper Explanation Of SMART Objectives
1. SPECIFIC: Objectives should be specific. They should describe the result that is wanted in a way that is, detailed, focused and well defined.
The following questions may be helpful in developing precise objectives:
• What outcomes are we searching for?
• Is it clear what the objective means?
• How will this be done and what tactics will be followed?
• What needs to happen?
• What are we going to do, with or for whom?
• Who will be responsible for what and do we need anyone else to be involved?
• When do we want this to be completed?
When writing objectives, especially for individuals, use action-orientated verbs which describe what needs to be done to achieve the objectives. For examples: analyse, Apply, Change, Create, Determine, Differentiate, Identify, Instigate, Perform.
AVOID jargon, words and phrases which are (or can be construed as) misleading or ambiguous such as: be aware of, have an awareness of, be prepared for a variety of.
2. MEASURABLE: In order to know if a target has been reached, measurement is critical. Objectives that are quantifiable are those that describe a result or performance that can be expressed as a percentage or that has some other numerical value. A system, method, or procedure that has tracked and recorded the results relevant to the target will have to provide evidence.
Consider the desired outcome and the factors that may be measured to assist in developing measurable goals. Consider whether or not cross-comparison is possible.
Consider these questions:
- How will I know that the change has occurred?
- Can these measurements be obtained?
The measure of a SMART objective could be qualitative or quantitative. A quantitative measure might be“Reduce departmental overheads by 10% this financial year”, while a good qualitative objective would be“Project completed on time and within budget to the satisfaction of the customer”.
3. ACHIEVABLE (or AGREED): This letter is where some variance occurs between different SMART objective definitions. The most common variations are Achievable, Attainable, Aligned and Agreed. I suggest using ACHIEVABLE over attainable, as the word sounds slightly less bureaucratic.An objective can be said to be achievable if the necessary resources are available or similar results have been achieved by others in similar circumstances.
Questions to consider include:
- Who will carry out the actions required?
- Do they have the necessary skills to do the task well?
- Are the resources (personnel, funding, time, equipment etc.) to achieve this objective available or can they be obtained?
- Who will bear responsibility for what?
‘Achievable’ suggests that individuals entrusted to it are willing and capable of accomplishing it. If goals are perceived to be impossible, people charged with them are prone to lose motivation and become demoralised.
As a result, it is critical to discuss and agree on objectives, particularly those pertaining to people. Recognize that agreeing that an aim is attainable may entail a commitment to supply a certain level of resources (people, money, or time) that the objective would be impossible to accomplish without.
Keep in mind that establishing too low of a target might sometimes result in demotivation and disillusionment. Stretching ambitions motivate people to invest time and effort in figuring out how to accomplish the aim. The majority of people will rise to a challenge if it is not excessive.
4. REALISTIC (or RELEVANT): The terms ‘realistic’ and ‘achievable’ are synonymous, which may explain why some prefer the term ‘relevant’ instead.
The term ‘realistic’ implies that there is a clear understanding of how the target might be accomplished; that no situations or factors exist that would make accomplishment impossible or improbable; and that all potential obstacles and limits have been considered.
The term ‘relevant’ implies that the objectives specified are appropriate for the individual or team and their work role and function, or that they correspond with the organization’s overarching purpose and strategy.
5. TIMELY (or TIME-BOUND): Setting a date or time limit on when the aim should be attained or completed helps to make objectives measurable. For objectives that will take weeks or even months to complete, it is prudent to establish milestones or critical steps and assign dates to them in order to keep work toward the ultimate goal on track.
A deadline helps provide the required urgency, motivates action, and concentrates the minds of individuals accountable for the promises made in agreeing to the objectives. Without deadlines, levels of urgency and motivation may decrease, which may result in unnecessary delays or failure to meet the objectives. Consider if the target can be fulfilled within the established deadlines, taking into account any conflicting demands that may cause delay.
A Word For Managers: Action Checklist
Managers should avoid:
- Setting ill-Defined Targets And Failing to implement a system, technique, or procedure for tracking and recording actions and progress toward goals
- Establishing unrealistic goals
- Setting Implausible Goals and failing to establish a timetable for achieving the goal or goals
- Creating Unachievable Or Unrealistic Timelines, forgetting that circumstances change and that it may be required to evaluate and alter or renegotiate objectives if circumstances make them less definite or impossible.
Setting Goals with SPIRIT
If we don’t know where to look for a target, the majority of us will fail to hit it. In the same way, if you follow specific principles when setting your goals, you will have a higher chance of achieving your objectives. Peak performers set down their objectives, review them on a regular basis, and make revisions as necessary.
You should write down your dreams and goals for the future so that they have SPIRIT attached to them.
The SPIRIT Acronym
Make a clear statement about what you want to achieve or what you don’t want to achieve. The end consequence should be observable and quantifiable. “Look gorgeous” is a bit of an unclear statement; “lose 20 pounds” is more precise.
Reward yourself at various stages of the goal-setting process, especially if it is a long-term one. As an example, if your goal is to set up a home office, you can decide to acquire a new desk once the space has been cleared out and prepared.
The objective must be something that you are interested in pursuing. If your husband wants you to drop 20 pounds but you believe you are in good shape, you are unlikely to want to put in the effort to achieve the objective.
Review your progress on a regular basis. Is the objective a reasonable one? Are you unable to move forward? Do you think you’ll need to make any changes to it?
Positive language should be used to frame the goal. Make the task enjoyable to complete. A poster of the final product, framed and hung on the wall, would be appropriate.
Set a deadline for yourself to meet in order to achieve your goal. Even better, break the goal down into manageable chunks and assign a deadline to each piece of the puzzle.
A Personal Action Plan
You know, most of us are content with far less than we are capable of being. Don’t be content with that. Change is difficult, but it is possible – we simply have to want it passionately enough to put up the effort to make it happen!
Many of us have a lot of ideas, but we are short on taking the necessary steps to put those ideas into reality. Possibly, we try something once and fail because we didn’t consider and plan the activities through to the end of the process. However, you are aware of the adage regarding the lottery: “You cannot win if you do not purchase a ticket.” This holds true in life, as well: “If you stop trying, you lose all hope of achieving success.”
So, Dear Reader,
Make a promise to yourself that you will make an effort to put what you have learned today into practice, especially when the techniques will be beneficial to your future success.