Objectives are the driving force behind your team; without them, you can lose sight of what you’re after. So why not transpose an existing framework onto your objectives so that you can feel confident in your team’s success? That’s right – you can turn your normal objectives into SMART objectives.
Defining an objective
To create well-planned SMART objectives, defining what an objective means to you and your team is essential.
Generally, an objective is something an individual, team, or organization seeks to accomplish within a given period. Objectives help to clarify the desired outcome of a task or project and serve as a guide for decision-making and resource allocation. They help to focus efforts and resources, track progress, and evaluate success. Objectives should be aligned with the overall strategy and mission of the organization and be challenging but realistic enough to motivate and inspire the individuals or teams working towards them. Some say they’re similar to goals, but others think the two are different – objectives can fit into the framework of OKRs, while goals are steps to get there.
Why are objectives important?
Setting objectives with intention is important, as the process can go wrong in a few ways. Particularly when managers set objectives, conceptualizing them incorrectly can derail a project before it starts.
“Objective setting goes wrong when meaningless or irrelevant objectives are chosen for the sake of having them,” says Steven Blue, CEO of Miller Ingenuity.
When it comes to objectives, it’s more about quality than quantity because choosing objectives to meet an arbitrary requirement creates inefficient workflows. Once a designated number of objectives is chosen, individuals often check them off their list without meaningful consideration.
“Often, the human resource department will require people to pick a certain number of objectives. And when that number of objectives are picked, people check that off the box,” Blue adds. “Deciding on objectives just for the sake of having them is a waste of time and resources.”
5 tips to utilize SMART objectives for your team
If you haven’t tried SMART objectives already, they’re a solid way to ensure productivity, regardless of your end goal. They provide clear and specific targets and are easily understood by everyone involved, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. Streamlining time and resources through SMART structure also avoids wasted efforts on activities that are unlikely to contribute to achieving your desired outcomes.
Additionally, these highly motivating goals provide a clear sense of direction and purpose. When individuals clearly understand what they are working towards, they are more likely to feel engaged in their work. And finally, with the accountability of SMART objectives, individuals within teams are responsible for delivering on their commitments and can be held responsible if they fall short.
Now that you’re sold on why SMART objectives are superior to traditional objectives check out these five tips for integrating them into your project roadmaps.
1. Make an objective around a tool
Leveraging technology is one of the best ways to streamline your processes. And when you integrate new tools for one objective, you can continue to tweak your usage of that tool for other objectives as well. One example is Hive Goals, a tool that helps manage goal achievement by tracking, assessing, and examining how tasks are accomplished.
Example: Increase team productivity by 15% by the end of the quarter by implementing a new project management software and training all team members on its use.
2. Make communication at the forefront
Another SMART objective is to instill communication protocols among your team. A team cannot function without good communication, which is why it needs to be a priority. Like any good relationship, communication takes time, effort, and focus. But objectives need to be clear so that teams don’t get lost in the weeds and lose sight of how important their synergy is.
Example: Improve team communication by 50% within the next three months by conducting regular team meetings, implementing a communication platform, and encouraging feedback and suggestions.
3. Always get feedback
Whether you’re working directly with customers or you’re a more internally-facing team, getting feedback is always important if you want to improve consistently. That’s why teams should keep in mind SMART objectives that reasonably consider how feedback is acquired, adopted, and used so that mistakes aren’t repeated in the future. This puts improvement and innovation through dialogue at the forefront of your team’s core values.
Example: Reduce customer complaints by 25% by the end of the year by implementing a customer service training program for the team, improving response time to customer inquiries, and addressing customer feedback. Enhancing response time to customer inquiries and managing customer feedback through the implementation of a customer training LMS.
4. Consider net profit margins
Thinking of profit margins to inform SMART objectives is a good way to keep goals measurable, time-bound, and strategic. A higher net profit margin will allow the company to reinvest in the business, reward stakeholders, and improve financial stability. Using this lens, objectives can be conceptualized more deliberately.
“Profit is always relevant,” Blue says.
5. Upskilling for a purpose
Learning new things is an important part of growing in a role, and companies or teams should facilitate and nurture that urge to grow by making it into a SMART objective. Measuring proficiency through surveys and testing can be helpful to make sure that your time-bound goals stay on track and being exposed to new inventions in the field is as relevant as it gets.
Example: Improve your team’s technical expertise by 30% within the next six months by providing regular training and workshops on new technologies, tools, and techniques in the field — and be sure you define what your team considers “regular”