SMART Resolutions for 2020
A new year brings new goals for many in their life and business, but how many new year resolutions are truly SMART?
SMART is a simple but incredibly effective acronym for any objective or new direction.
So whatever aims you’ve set yourselves this January run SMART over them and make them more likely to be achieved.
Being specific about what it is you wish to achieve significantly increases the likelihood of success. This is partly because:
- logically you lay out what you want eg in this blog more profit?
- problems and issues become clearer from the description of the aim. It’s not I want more profit but profits will improve by increasing sales or by reducing costs or both.
- emotionally you become more engaged. Why do you want this aim? If it doesn’t excite you, why are you doing it? Is cold necessity of a small profit enough?
A broad aim is good for stating a hopeful direction of travel, but how are you going to measure success? Often, we cheat ourselves but not making them measurable- profits went up so goal achieved last month/year. Did we really achieve that goal or did it just happen?
By making the goal measurable, we set targets which can be quantified. Always choose things that can be measured easily as these are better to track. With a simple measure, it is easier to see the effect of any action taken.
Sometimes we start with the big statements. Profits will increase by 10% across the board, might seem reasonable until worked through. Is the 10% achievable for the business as a whole or would a better objective be a lower increase. If a 5% increase is easy, 6% tough, 7% probable, 8% possible, 9% a stretch; an 8% or 9% goal would be better.
Any aim needs to be agreed even if the agreement is with just yourself. If there is a team involved, all need to be working towards the same aim. All therefore need to be clear as to what that is.
The difference between achievable and realistic is important in SMART resolutions:
- on profit, does this mean that everything will increase in price by 9% with no loss of customers? Unlikely. For some products a 9% price increase may be correct; for others it might be a 9% decrease in costs that achieves the profitability. The aim should therefore state the mixed approach.
- an aim may be achievable but unrealistic. This is seen most obviously in sales aims. Doubling sales when you sell 10 is often easier than when the starting point is 1M. While going from 10 to 1M assumes a very fast-growing market and no other competitors.
It’s at this point that resources need to be identified and considered. Who needs to do what when and how, to ensure success. Is the aim only achievable if nothing else is done? If so it needs to be reviewed downwards to be realistic.
Timebound/ Tactfully Tell Someone
Any aim should be timebound. When does it need to be achieved by? If the 8% increase in profits needs to be achieved by the end of March to stay in business, giving the date creates the focus and urgency. This is different from ‘by December’ where there may need to be intermediate goals to maintain a consistency of effort.
The last step for any SMART aim is to tell someone about it. Tact here means making it simple to understand, contains the necessary information for the audience; and for you to say it easily out loud. This is the difference between telling:
- a business associate, ‘Our aim is to increase company profits by 8% by December 2020’ and
- a team member ‘Our aim is to increase profits by 8% by December 2020 through increasing prices by 20% on line A with 10% in January and 9%in September, by reducing costs on Line B by 5% immediately; and doubling sales in Line C through promotion in June with a new marketing person to help Jane’
The act of telling someone often acts as a commitment because the other person may ask in the future whether it’s been achieved. For a team the aim needs to be repeated so all are clear. Here the tact is in reminding others when they stray from the aim.
SMART resolutions power success
Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timebound makes SMART goals. Clever managers always use SMART resolutions to power their success.
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