How to set SMART goals
Start off by focusing on one goal first. Concentrate and identify the outcome you want for your project, and hold on to that thought.
Setting SMART goals correctly isn’t rocket science, but you are required to have a full understanding of the project you’re working on. Knowing it inside and out plays a key role in creating a reasonable set of criteria for building and meeting your project management goals.
One thing to keep in mind when setting SMART goals is that having more objectives isn’t always better. You want your SMART goals to be a reliable benchmark of your performance and an indicator of how close you are to your target, but you don’t want to go too far by dividing your goal into more objectives than needed. This will only lead you to a state of constant overthinking, and ultimately, burnout.
You can’t go around setting goals like “the traffic to our site should increase” and expect planning to be easy — being specific is necessary for being an effective manager
. Being unclear with your goals only makes it difficult to determine just where you currently are along the way.
Instead, set your goals in a descriptive enough way that you can quickly get an idea about how to design your roadmap when you think about it. For instance, instead of the example mentioned above, your goal should be “the traffic to our site should be X users daily by next month”.
You’re halfway through a big project. Your team seems to be performing pretty well, and you’ve still got a good couple of weeks. You feel like the project is going well, but you’re not 100% sure. So you ask yourself: “What’s missing?”
If you don’t have any metrics to refer to for your project’s current status, deciding whether you should make adjustments will be troublesome. And making the adjustments itself becomes a gigantic headache.
Some examples of metrics are tasks completed per week, average hours spent on each task, and the total number of hours worked between your team. One of the best ways to measure these as well as your productivity is by using Hubstaff
, a time tracking and activity monitoring tool.
When setting your goals, one of the most important — and hardest — questions project managers need to ask themselves is, “Can it be done?” If the answer is no, changes to your project goals and objectives may be necessary.
It’s not bad to be ambitious, but there are instances when it’s simply not possible to attain a particular goal. For example, you want to complete a big project in one month with a team of only five people. Not only is this going to quickly burn through your team’s energy, but this also entails a high probability of scheduling conflicts with other projects, which can hurt the business as a whole.
A reliable way to determine whether a goal is attainable or not is looking at the results in the previous months. If you see a rising trend, you could use this as a benchmark and set your goals with it.
Having many project goals is good, especially if you’re on track to accomplishing them. At the same time, handling several projects simultaneously can negatively affect your team’s work output quality and cause productivity to decline over time.
Make sure to revisit your goals regularly and re-evaluate if they are really necessary to the success of the project. Are they worth allocating valuable resources for? Will their results have a significant impact on the growth of the business? Teams find it difficult to drop a goal they’ve already put effort into, but it’s sometimes a better option than to continue wasting time and energy away.
Regardless of the size and complexity of your project, time will not stop or slow down, so you should plan for every second as much as you can. If your plan contains the phrase “however long it takes”, you might want to reconsider it.
Having time-bound goals means that your goals are feasible in terms of the given time frame. It’s about understanding that some of your goals will take longer to complete than others and that you may need to set aside other goals because time does not permit its completion with the resources that you currently have access to.