Last time we looked at ways to make your goals measurable. But, measure them as much as you like, your goals will do you no good if there is no possibility that you (or your team) can actually achieve them. And being achievable is the ‘A’ part of SMART.
“I want to have another £10 million in my bank account, through working at my computer, by 6pm tonight.” Well, that ticks most of the boxes we need for a SMART goal. It’s specific, measurable, and time-bound. But, unless you happen to be Richard Branson, or Warren Buffet, how likely are you to actually make it happen? Even those guys would find such a goal rather a big stretch on that time-scale, so you would be setting yourself up for failure from the very start.
To re-examine an example used in the previous post, we said that a goal such as “Departmental energy usage must be reduced by 15% to 25% within the next financial year,” was starting to sound like a smart goal, but that a number of factors must be considered if the goal is going to be achievable.
But what factors? Well, one would be which department are we talking about?
If we mean a department that has energy consuming facilities that are not essential to your business, then the goal might reasonably be achieved by the simple expedient of using those facilities less. Perhaps no personal use of the internet by employees during break times would be an example of how energy could be saved towards our goal. (That might, of course, have other less desirable effects, such as disgruntled, less productive employees!)
But, if we are talking about a department which absolutely requires the continual use of an energy consuming machine, such as the machine that actually makes the widgets you sell, then it becomes much more difficult to make our energy saving goal truly achievable. You might possibly achieve your goal at a heavy cost, such as not being able to make/sell so many widgets, or the cost of a very expensive but more efficient widget making machine. Is it then a goal that you truly want to achieve? This is why company-wide goals can be dangerous.
If our goal had said that we wanted to reduce energy ‘costs’ rather than ‘usage’, then seeking a cheaper energy supplier might be one way to help you to reach that goal.
You will also need to consider what resources and skills will be needed in order to achieve the goal, and who will be involved. And whether those resources and skills are something you already have, or something you will need to acquire. All this needs to taken into account before we can truly judge the goal to be achievable.
Your goal must not be impossible or improbable to reach, but it should at least stretch you a little to try harder. If your weight loss programme enables you to easily lose half a pound each week with a little effort, then setting a goal to lose one whole pound each week should inspire you to try just that little bit harder. Whereas trying to lose seven pounds each week would probably mean you lose motivation due to continually missing that unachievable goal.
So, before you call your goal a SMART goal, think about what factors you must consider to make sure that it is possible to achieve it. Then you’ll be able to celebrate the goal when you do achieve it.
But, as well as being achievable, your goal does need to relevant to you and your business in order to be worthwhile. And the R part of SMART is coming up next time.
To your success,