Work SMARTer, not harder

Professional smart goal-setting guide with focused worker and strategic chart graphics.

SMART Goal-Setting for your firm

Research suggests that strategies do not gain alignment down the organizational chart because objectives are oftentimes not clear. Only an alarming 22% of employees feel their businesses’ leaders have a clear direction for their organization. Less than half (41%) of US employees strongly agree with what their organization stands for. 

In today’s business arena, long gone are the days when one or two leaders issue a decision and expect the entire organization to just run with it. Nowadays, people require transparency. They want and need clear direction, purposeful communication, and responsible decision-making from their superiors. This is all possible with the help of SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. In 1981, business consultant George T. Doran first coined this in the article “There’s a SMART way to write management goals and objectives.” Since its publication, it has remained a powerful pillar in the decision-making process for many. 

The SMART goals concept has remained influential for several reasons:

  • It helps you meet your firm’s overall objectives.
  • It identifies strengths and weaknesses within your organizational structure and overall workflow.
  • It maintains your target challenging yet achievable.
  • It keeps your firm’s management team and staff on the same page about everything. Including plans of action, expectations, timelines, deliverables, etc.

Ultimately, setting SMART targets means your firm is working towards something bigger in unison. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end there. These objectives are continuously ever-evolving, and the best part of it all is you can apply this strategy to your personal goals. It places you in the driver’s seat towards your professional and personal destination. 

With this said, let’s look at the five unique elements SMART goals share and how you can provide your team a target to aim for. Let’s begin. 

Establish clarity with specific goals

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SMART goals need to be specific. There needs to be a desired outcome that’s clearly understood. For example, most firms want to grow their intake, so an objective for this might be, “I want more cases.” But is this specific enough? 

To establish clarity, you can apply the 5 W questionnaire

  1. Who is involved in this?
  2. What do we want to accomplish?
  3. Where/ in which channel is this goal to be achieved? 
  4. When do I want to achieve this? 
  5. Why do I want to accomplish this?

Instead of stating, “I want more cases,” to make it more specific, you can say, “Our firm wants to increase 20% of cases from the inbound marketing efforts in the next 12 months.” 

Self-assessment questions for specific goals: What do you want to accomplish? Who’s included? When do you want to achieve this? 


Accomplish the most with measurable goals

Maximize productivity

Besides being specific, you’ll need a criterion to determine if your progress is on track or off the rails. For example, firms looking to grow their case intake from inbound marketing efforts need to answer, “How do I know if my firm is meeting this goal?” 

To ensure your progress is reasonably measured, you’ll need quantitative or qualitative measurements. For example, “Our firm wants to increase 20% of cases from the inbound marketing efforts in the next 12 months.” How will you measure your percentage increase month per month? 

In this case, firms could rely on traffic, leads, and conversion rate to measure the percentage increase of their case intake on a monthly basis.

Self-assessment questions for measurable goals: How can you measure your firm’s progress to know if you’re on the right track towards obtaining your goals?


Maintain enthusiasm high with achievable goals 

Goal setting motivation

Ambitious targets should be achievable, appropriate, actionable, and most importantly, attainable. While being ambitious is great, spreading your firm’s staff too thin can cost you in the long run. At the end of the day, there’s a fine line between risky and impossible.

Your firm’s plan of action should make your team feel challenged enough but remain on the feasible side. For example, it isn’t impossible for your firm to increase the inbound marketing caseloads by 90%… BUT (you knew this was coming), does your firm have the resources and capabilities to obtain this goal? 

Here are some self-assessment questions for achievable goals: Do you have the skills and tools needed to achieve X target? Is the amount of effort on par with your firm’s capabilities?


Align your wants and needs with realistic goals 

Personal goal setting guide

Besides having achievable goals, it’s important they’re realistic. For this, two factors are taken into consideration: resources and time. 

For the firms investing in marketing, a desired outcome is to increase their caseload. In this case, an unrealistic target would be, “I want to make  a million dollars from my marketing investment in the next 2 months. Instead, a realistic goal would communicate more along the lines of, “Our firm wants to increase 20% of cases from the inbound marketing efforts, specifically with SEO and PPC efforts, in the next 12 months.” 

Self-assessment questions for realistic goals: Is X objective within reach given the time and resources I’m investing?


Meet your deadlines with timely goals 

Deadline management tips

Last but not least, a SMART goal ties back to time. Usually, when an intention isn’t timely, there isn’t a sense of urgency created. Therefore, there’s less motivation to complete it. If we were to use the previous example, “Our firm wants to increase our caseload by 20% cases from the inbound marketing efforts, specifically with SEO and PPC efforts,” – would your staff know from when to when this deadline occurs? 

A better answer would be, “Our firm wants to increase 20% of cases from the inbound marketing efforts, specifically with SEO and PPC efforts, in the next 12 months. We’ll measure traffic and leads every week and conversion rate every month.” 

Self-assessment questions for timely goals: When is my deadline? When should I achieve this? What KPIs will help me measure my progress?


Executing the SMARTest plan of action

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We’ve discussed how firms like yours can create SMART goals. However, implementation is where strategies usually fall short. To counterattack this, here are some of the SMARTest practices: 

  1. Provide relevant KPIs – Your KPIs should reflect your ROI. There are hundreds of marketing metrics. However, in this case, money-tied metrics work best. Examples include: cost-per-conversion, cost-per-lead, leads, etc.
  2. Stay risky but reasonable –To get to where you want to be, it’s best to start small and scale slowly. Think back to what’s achievable for your firm based on your resources, time, and investment.
  3. Set deadlines and track progress- Want to know how close you are to meeting X objective? Taking a break and checking progress can help you highlight relevant changes and milestones. 
  4. Establish a support system- Setting SMART goals will bring changes to your firm’s day-to-day work. To ensure your staff isn’t overworked, have a support system to regularly monitor their progress.
  5. Celebrate your wins!- Did you meet your desired outcome? Did you make progress in a specific area? Then, celebrate it! Give yourself and your team members a pat on the back (or a dinner out as a team!). This helps maintain everyone motivated and energized toward the bigger catch. 


Make your SMART goals even SMARTer

For many, the ultimate goal is to work smarter, not harder. You can start working towards that with a list of SMART goals. These types of objectives can help improve professionally and personally. They provide a sense of direction, motivation, and clear focus.

If you’ve been looking to future-proof your firm’s plan of action – we can help you craft the best strategy for your firm’s wants today.