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Are Your Priorities SMART?

By Ted Skinner

    Thu, Jan 30, 2020 @ 05:44 PM Annual & Quarterly Planning, Strategy Execution

    Creating Company, Group, and Individual priorities is a key success factor (a leading indicator KPI) to achieving both your short-term and long-term goals.  In order to effectively create priorities and set goals with the highest probability of success, it is important that you establish a measurable target that creates focus, alignment, and accountability.  

    One way to create the foundation for success is to follow the SMART priorities roadmap.  SMART priorities are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  

    To ensure that your priorities are designed for success, test them against following SMART criteria:

     SMART Priority Criteria

    Specific:  Do your priorities make a clear, concise, and straightforward statement of what you want to accomplish?  Specific criteria has been established when you are able to answer who, what, where, when, why, and how.

    Measurable:  A priority that gets measured, gets managed.  They only way to know when you have achieved success is to know what your desired result is.  Measurable has been achieved when you have a clear understanding of how many, how much, by when...

    Attainable: A priority must be something that can be achieved by the responsible party.  The attainable test has been met when you can confidently state that you possess the right skill set and personal capability to do the work required to complete the priority.   

    Realistic:   In order to successfully reach a goal, it must be realistic to achieve within the established timeline.  However, realistic does not mean easy.  The realistic test has been met when you can answer that your priority requires focused effort and commitment, but is doable within the specified timeline.

    Timely:   Priorities should be time bound in order to ensure focus and accountability.  Timelines serve to drive completion, which allows you to keep progressing forward toward your goals and objectives.  The timely test has been met when you can answer that your priority has a specific start and end date.

    SMART Tips for Setting and Achieving Your Goals and Priorities:
    • Keep it visible at all times: Put it on a publicly available dashboard where others can see it and help you remain accountable to your stated goal.
    • Status it weekly: How are you doing based on the success criteria you set out for yourself?  Any adjustments that you need to make?
    • Make adjustments as needed: If you can see that you aren’t on track to hit the goal by the deadline, what else can you do to move forward? Do you need to enlist some help? Are any other departments depending on you?  Do you need to move your milestones around? Do you need to say no to some other things so you can focus more on your goal?
    Include long term goals:  Remember to keep the end in mind and plot out your long term goals, not just your short term SMART priorities.  Too often we focus on the immediate and urgent at the expense of longer term success.  Make sure that you plan to work towards the longer term goals, not just the short term goals.

    Ready to join those elite 8% of people who successfully hit their goals? Good luck, and please share any tips that help you write more effective goals.

    -Ted Skinner

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