Most people seem to have heard of the SMART objective. An acronym to help you have all the correct ingredients when crafting an objective. There are loads of different versions of it too, my favourite being: Specific, Measurable, Awesome, Ridiculous and Time-bound 😉
But the traditional amongst us may be more familiar with Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
It’s not a bad guide, the problem is that hardly anyone I meet really understands how to translate these 5 ideas into the written objective. So here’s my solution; the most incredibly simple sentence structure that will not only give you a smart objective, but will:
- provide a consistent look to your objectives,
- ensure that the objective is singular (not multiple objectives rolling into one paragraph),
- plus it will stop you dropping into the task level (how to deliver the objective) which is always more motivating and empowering for the owner of that objective.
So here it is. A super simple four part sentence structure:
- Start with a good verb to describe the journey that needs to take place. E.g Increasing; Decreasing.
- add the target area. E.g. Use of keyhole surgery procedures,
- add a measure for the target. E.g. 10%; £10,000; 500m; 1 hour,
- add the time over which the objective is to be achieved. E.g. July 20XX; The end of Quarter 2.
So that is verb, target, measure and time (VTMT).
Here’s a couple of examples:
- Increase number of open days by 10% by March 2016.
- Increase the number of twitter followers to over 10,000 by the end of 20XX.
- Maintain the customer satisfaction level at 4.5 out of 5 throughout the 20XX sales period.
- Implement the SCAT software for all staff by the end of November 20XX.
I’m going to argue that it’s possible to fit any objective in the world to this format! I’ve been challenged many times on courses, but always found with a bit of care you can work it into the format.
What’s great is that you don’t even have to worry about the ‘SMART’ thing. It will have all those elements, just by writing a VTMT sentence.
I can also tell you from my own experience, that the measure element will usually be one of four types. It’s not an exhaustive list, you may be able to find another type of measure, but most of the time these four will cover it. They are:
- Quality measures, how well the work is performed. Quality can be measured in a variety of ways, including the accuracy, effectiveness, or usefulness associated with the objective.
- Quantity measures, the actual amount or capacity of work produced. Performance objectives measured via quantity will almost always involve a numerical benchmark, such as raw numbers, percentages, or level of productivity.
- Timeliness measures, how quickly the work is performed. Performance objectives measured via timeliness include some sort of a time frame.
- The final way to measure performance objectives is in terms of cost-effectiveness. Typically, when we think of cost-effectiveness, financial savings come to mind. However, cost-effectiveness can also refer to personnel savings or time savings.
That’s pretty well all you need to know in order to craft really SMART objectives. It’s something that’s a great management foundation, one of those simple techniques that can transform the clarity of your team objectives.
You will always do a better job if you agree short concise singular objectives over those wordy paragraphs that tend to emerge. Give VTMT a try, I promise you’ll be pleased you did.