The more specific and measurable your goal, the more quickly you will be able to identify, locate, create, and implement the use of the necessary resources for its achievement.” – Charles J. Givens, author

Most executives, leaders and managers you talk to know exactly what the acronym SMART is when it relates to goals.

But most objectives or goals at a company, team or individual level are usually far from it.

setting smart goals

I’m not talking about whether they are relevant to the company strategy – that’s a completely different conversation.

It’s just about the fact that many goals are like an athlete saying, “I’m going to try hard.”

Or a salesperson who says, “I’m going to sell lots” versus “I’m going to get face to face and make a presentation to 30 new prospects” or “I’m going to close and sign $5,000,000 in new business” or “I’m going to increase my conversion rate from 23% to 27%”.

Although everyone knows this conventional wisdom, it’s rare in practice.

In organizations we work with on strategic planning, we always keep a pulse on and review goals – the quarterly setting and resetting of goals – at company and team levels.

We even created a couple of tools to help us to manage that process, to make sure that you are setting SMART goals – otherwise they can easily become vague or lose their teeth.

For example, for one organization that had a particularly hard time with SMART goals, we created a grid for each of their goals. It helped them to create a habit of keeping track and for conducting a very structured evaluation.

Setting SMART Goals – Activity vs. Outcome

One of the biggest distinctions to know is the difference between activity goals and outcome goals.

  • Activity goals are relevant when it’s about doing the work and trying hard.
  • Outcome goals are about getting the results and succeeding. These are more challenging to figure out in many cases, and to deliver.

In almost every case, do your best to get to an outcome goal.

The ChallengE

  • Look at your overall company and team goals.
  • Do they meet the SMART criteria in a way that would make one of your accounting team very happy (do they have a lot of numbers in them)?
  • What can you do to sharpen them?

For more about this, listen to Episode 71 of The Growth Whisperers.


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