How do you achieve your business objectives? Be a SMARTI

16 Mar 2016

It can be tough in business to achieve your objectives, or even to conjure those objectives in the first place. Consultant Tony Bourke, associate faculty at IMI, tells us the solution: don’t just be SMART, be a SMARTI.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but very few managers manage to get objectives right. And that’s not necessarily the manager’s fault.

The fault lies with the old rule that objectives must be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed.

SMART has been around for many years, but that doesn’t automatically make it right. In fact, following SMART can be stupid when it comes to setting objectives.

Let’s look at some examples of so-called SMART objectives:

  • Hold monthly team meetings at least ten times this year
  • Keep the working area free from rubbish in 2016
  • Ensure that payroll is on time every month

These three ‘objectives’ look fine. The trouble with them is that they are not actually objectives. They are tasks.

Tasks are SMART, but they don’t improve anything. Tasks are just jobs.

If you gave each of your team five of these SMART tasks, and if every team member achieved them, what would be the result? The team would make no progress over the year.

Tasks are activities or jobs that have to be done, but which do not cause progress to be made.

Instead, then, you need to get your head around the concept of objectives being SMARTI. With SMARTI (© Tony Bourke 2016), objectives become a form of specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timed improvement.

Let’s look at some examples of objectives using SMARTI:

  • Become qualified in Health & Safety by year’s end
  • Hire a qualified mediator and use her or him to resolve two disputes this year
  • Change our payment process from cheques to bank transfers in 2016

Each of these is an objective because there is a definite improvement to the organisation if they are achieved. It is the improvement that makes all the difference.

If you give each member of your team three objectives which are SMARTI, even if each person only achieves two of their objectives, you will still make significant progress as a team this year.

Make SMARTI objectives part of your personal brand for 2016, and see what a difference it can make.

Tony Bourke is a facilitator and consultant who specialises in management development training, executive coaching and workplace dispute mediation. Bourke is an IMI associate faculty, and teaches on front line management and change management programmes.

Main image via Shutterstock