In my last blog post, I noted that I am a fan of SMART goals. In case you missed it, SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, rational, and timed.
We also noted the importance of setting specific goals—even in the context of daily work tasks. We pointed out that lack of specific instructions can lead to wasted time and energy while contributing to frustration and rework.
The same is true if goals are not measurable. Let’s explore!
- Begin with the end in mind – If you are going to build a house, you do not begin by starting construction with hopes that the house will take shape over time. You begin with a set of blueprints—a detailed visual map—that accounts for every inch, angle, corner, support, etc. I fear many employees simply begin work by jumping in without setting a standard for a successful day. Try beginning your day by looking at what you want to accomplish by the end of the day. How can we do that?
- Make a daily “to do” list – You may think that is old fashioned and a total waste of time. However, the law of gravity has been around for as long as I can remember, and I still think it is a great idea to not step off a cliff! Just because a tool has been used in the past doesn’t mean we need to think it no longer has applicability. A “to do” list provides a means of measurement to help you know when a work goal has been completed.
- Make a weekly “to do” list – A weekly “to do” list helps you prioritize your daily “to do” lists and provides a context for collective work projects while allowing you to build in maintenance time for unexpected calls, emails, customer issues, etc.
- Identify or ask for desired outcomes – If you are a supervisor, provide measurements for success and discuss those openly with your direct reports. If you are a direct report and you do not have clarity on a definition of successful work, ask your supervisor. Regardless of your position, you may need to negotiate expectations on measurement criteria. We’ll explore that more next time when we talk about making goals attainable.