must be achievable
In this article we’ll show you how to write objectives. The sort that motivate. The terms “goals” and “objectives” will be used interchangeably.
Fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know that the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is 42.
The answer to our problems in this case is equally simple. But unlike the ambiguity of the answer “42”, it‘s all about making sure there is nothing ambiguous about what you want the end result to look like.
The answer to life, the universe and how to write objectives that get results is SMART. One of those great memory aids to use so when writing goals you can think “are these SMART?”.
Let’s take a look behind the acronym.
Ummm… increase distance from ground by 1 metre – before Mum calls me in for dinner.
Advanced SMART goal tips and techniques
So far we’ve looked at the definition of a SMART objective. We’ve also turned the problem producing “provide good service to all customers” into a new SMART objective.
There’s three things left to do that’ll make the new objective work really well for you. On top of this they’ll help remove headaches come review time. They are…
- Performance standards, and
Let’s see what this looks like with our new objective (increase your Customer Service Satisfaction Score to 90% this financial year). We can break this objective down further:
Increase customer satisfaction
A percentage score based on a Customer Service Satisfaction survey (note: this could also be measured by a mystery shopper program)
87 – 89% = partially met
90 – 95% = met
96 – 98% = exceeded
over 98% = outstanding
The measurement makes it clear how the end result will be measured. It should describe both the source of the data and how it will be measured. The Performance standards explain a number of different levels of achievement.
To keep things simple, we could have left the objective as “increase your Customer Service Satisfaction Score to 90%”. But by explaining how it will be measured and providing a number of different potential levels of attainment, we have made our job throughout the year and at end of year review time much easier. Why is that? Well, there’s no room for disagreement or misinterpretation. And we can also measure and discuss progress throughout the year.
When something is achievable and you know how you’re traveling, you’re much more motivated to reach the end goal.
Things aren’t always so easy to measure
What could you do if you didn’t have a customer satisfaction survey or a mystery shopper program? You could look at things like:
- Average time taken to respond to customer requests
- Number of enquiries that need to be escalated
Input, autonomy and actions
Research has shown that people are more engaged and motivated when they have input into their own goals. For some companies and roles this may mean input into the goal itself. For others this may mean autonomy over how the goal will be achieved. But for people with less experience this may not always be practical. In this case you may need to provide an outline of the key steps needed to achieve the goal. This still allows some degree of autonomy while providing the direction a less experienced person needs.
Some things to avoid
SMART Goal Examples
We hope you’ve got something from this article on writing objectives that produce results. The next step is to review our sample goals and objectives. These examples will help reinforce what you’ve learnt in this article.