must be achievable
In this article we’ll show you how to write objectives. The sort that motivate.
Fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know that the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is 42.
The answer to our problems in this case is equally simple. But unlike the ambiguity of the answer “42”, it‘s all about making sure there is nothing ambiguous about what you want the end result to look like.
The answer to life, the universe and how to write objectives that get results is SMART. One of those great memory aids to use so when writing goals you can think “are these SMART?”.
Let’s take a look behind the acronym.
Ummm… increase distance from ground by 1 metre – before Mum calls me in for dinner.
Made to measure
So far we’ve looked at the definition of a SMART objective. We’ve also turned the problem producing “provide good service to all customers” into a new SMART objective.
There’s three things left to do that’ll make the new objective work really well for you. On top of this they’ll help remove headaches come review time. They are…
- Performance standards, and
Let’s see what this looks like with our new objective (increase your Customer Service Satisfaction Score to 90% this financial year). We can break this objective down further:
Increase customer satisfaction
A percentage score based on a Customer Service Satisfaction survey (note: this could also be measured by a mystery shopper program)
87 – 89% = partially met
90 – 95% = met
96 – 98% = exceeded
over 98% = outstanding
The measurement makes it clear how the end result will be measured. It should describe both the source of the data and how it will be measured. The Performance standards explain a number of different levels of achievement.
To keep things simple, we could have left the objective as “increase your Customer Service Satisfaction Score to 90%”. But by explaining how it will be measured and providing a number of different potential levels of attainment, we have made our job throughout the year and at end of year review time much easier. Why is that? Well, there’s no room for disagreement or misinterpretation. And we can also measure and discuss progress throughout the year.
When something is achievable and you know how you’re traveling, you’re much more motivated to reach the end goal.
Things aren’t always so easy to measure
What could you do if you didn’t have a customer satisfaction survey or a mystery shopper program? You could look at things like:
- Average time taken to respond to customer requests
- Number of enquiries that need to be escalated
One thing left to do . . . and this is an important one. How is the objective going to be achieved? What actions are needed? You need to describe the steps or plan for reaching the goal.
Even if your organisation hasn’t reached the point yet where a manager and employee set objectives jointly, you at least need to have input on this one from the employee. For employees with little experience, you’ll need to do most of the work here in terms of outlining the actions. For people with a lot of experience, you’re really going to benefit by using their collective knowledge and skills. And they’ll be more satisfied and more likely to be motivated if they have planned their own action steps.
Some things to avoid
See SMART Goal Examples
There you have it. We hope you’ve got something from this article on writing objectives that produce results.
Write your objectives the SMART way. You’ll reduce your performance review headaches . . . and be more successful. See examples on how to write SMART goals.