Want to be fully prepared for your new job? Hays’ Michael Jones is here to explain the importance of the SMART acronym when starting anew.
Starting a new job can be one of the most exciting, but also one of the most stressful experiences in our professional lives. During those first few months, it can feel like all eyes are on you.
You will work hard to prove your value and will be keen to make an impact from the get-go. But, whilst I encourage this kind of enthusiasm, I would also advise that before getting swept away in the new job whirlwind, you set yourself some new job goals using the SMART criteria.
SMART is an acronym you’ve probably come across before. It stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-scaled.
Every goal you set yourself when you start a new job has to be SMART. This will ensure you don’t turn into a busy fool who gets nothing done, one who ultimately crashes and burns. Not the ideal first impression, I’m sure you’d agree.
So, what does a SMART goal look like in practice?
S – Specific
During the interview process you will have discussed the role and your key duties and responsibilities. But what exactly is expected of you during your first three to six months? It is important to clarify your role objectives, define your goals and confirm your boss’s expectations.
The more proactive you are in initiating this conversation early on, the better. This will be the point where you make sure you and your manager are both aligned, and that each goal is specific and clear in both of your minds.
“Our goal as a team is to grow our market share and win new business in the IT sector.”
“My goal is to be in the top 25pc of fee performers in the region within nine months.”
M – Measurable
Now that you have a better idea of what exactly it is you will be tasked with during your first few months, you will need to gain an understanding of how you will measure your progress with these goals.
This could include a specific percentage increase in sales results, activity volumes or positive customer feedback since you joined.
Your boss should have a clear idea of your key performance indicators and how to measure them, and they should set these out for you at the beginning, but from there on you should take ownership of tracking these.
“I will make 10 sales calls every day to local businesses and aim to achieve at least one face-to-face sales meeting from them.”
“I will aim to place three contractors in my first month and strive to increase that number by 50pc each month.”
A – Attainable
Your goals shouldn’t be too easy; otherwise, what’s the point? But, at the same time, if they simply aren’t attainable, this will get you off to a bad start in your new role. Hopefully your company has provided a good induction or set out an effective coaching plan to get you up to the speed required to attain your goals.
But try going the extra mile and take responsibility for your own learning by reading through any documents or guides provided to new starters and reviewing important company policies and procedures.
If you haven’t already, book time in with your boss or colleagues to receive training on key tasks and activities you’re not familiar with and look out for opportunities to observe others and learn on the job.
Identify and start to build relationships with those in the team who are clearly successful and effective in their roles. In short, plan how you will attain these goals, be prepared to work hard during those first few weeks to get up to speed, but remember not to lose your work-life balance.
“I will aim to exceed my targets and achieve my goals by undertaking industry research and participating in on-the-job coaching with my manager.”
“I will take accountability for my own learning by seeking out successful people in the team and doing what they do.”
“I will take full advantage of the training provided and the learning resources available to me and seek regular feedback so I can improve and achieve my best.”
R – Relevant
Your goals will no doubt impact upon your team and business’s performance, but how? There should be inductions in place with your team and different departments, so make the most of these opportunities to get to know your new team members and understand what they do, what they’re responsible for and how long they’ve been in the organisation.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of how your role fits in with theirs as well as into the wider business strategy. This will help put your goals into context, giving you a sense of purpose and the impetus to complete them.
“Making sales calls and securing client meetings will help us build stronger relationships and win more business.”
“Growing our market presence will help us beat the competition and achieve more fees.”
“Achieving my sales targets will help the business to grow and hire more employees.”
T – Time-scaled
Lastly, goals need a beginning, middle and end point. When are you going to start, when will you review your progress and when are you expecting to have achieved your goal?
If your time frames are too long you’ll lose focus and if it’s too short you won’t give yourself enough time to hit your target.
Be sure to write these down and confirm specifics with your boss in terms of expected results and time frames, and manage expectations from the outset.
“I need to achieve my sales call targets by the end of the month. My progress will be measured every week. I will meet with my manager bi-weekly to discuss how I’m doing and what results I am achieving”
Throughout my years at Hays, I have taken on many new roles and areas of responsibility and, each time, I have set my goals against this SMART criteria. That’s the beauty of the SMART model, it applies to every role at every level of seniority.
So, whatever your new opportunity is, if you make sure each and every goal that you set yourself there is a SMART one, you further your chances of getting off to a strong start and achieving ongoing success.
Michael Jones is the head of internal recruitment and training for Hays UK and Ireland.
A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.