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I previously wrote an article about SSMAAART KPIs. I hope it helps.
This post in an extension of a broader topic that I covered in “Achieving your dreams” article. I tried to cover there the relationship between goals, key performance indicators and targets and explained that all together they should be not just smart S.M.A.R.T. but actually S.S.M.A.A.A.R.T.
So 2 times S and 3 times A.
I will not spend time going through the typical definitions that come with S.M.A.R.T. principle, but rather focus on the additional aspects that are many times ignored in most of the articles that you can find online.
So, the typical SMART structure you will find is:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time based.
Specific but Simple
You can be very specific when setting a goal but the complexity of the description can be so high that in the end nobody will understand what needs to be done.
E.g.: “Decreasing body fat by 4.7% per quarter out of total body mass” is an example of a specific performance indicator that maybe it’s not that easy to understand, it’s not simple.
“Lose 3 kg every 3 months” says exactly the same thing and regardless if it’s you or somebody else, it’s easy to understand and therefore the chances to achieve it are higher.
Tip: once you know what you desire translate it in to a simple to understand definition.
Being able to measure your progress will let you know if you are going the right way and will build your confidence. Obviously some things are harder to measure than others, but even if we are talking about visual assessment (muscle mass increase) or concrete data (body weight loss) it’s important to permanently keep track of your evolution.
Achievable but Ambitious
Any target/goal should be set up in such a way so that you are confident that it can be achieved but at the same time it must take you out of the comfort zone. This can sound quite conceptual but I will try to make it more concrete: if you can achieve a goal without changing anything in the way you do things than it means it’s not ambitious at all.
E.g. If it takes you 15 min to get to the park by walking and you set for yourself an objective to get to the park today in 14-15 minutes - you will not get out of your comfort zone.
If you set an objective to get there in 7 minutes - maybe you’ll need to run but for sure you’ll make it in time if you are ambitious enough.
Your performance indicators must suggest the action that needs to be done in order to achieve them (e.g.):
- Lose weight
- Increase muscles mass
- Run faster or longer
- Sell x number of pieces etc
At the opposite side you can have the so called static performance indicators, that don’t point to any action and can create confusion when trying to understand them (e.g.): customers per employee. If you are a store manager than maybe for you it’s obvious that your employees should try to interact with as many customers as possible in order to sell more but I wonder if a junior employee would get this from reading the indicator.
When you say a performance indicator must be relevant it means two things:
A) It makes sense to have it because it goes in line with my role or ambitions
If you are in a business environment than you would try to give a sales guy sales related goals and let somebody else worry about risk. Nobody stops you from giving them both, but you will just create powerful contradictions in the employee’s behavior. It’s like asking somebody to obtain the maximum possible speed without driving fast.
B) It depends on my actions if I will achieve it or not
Having a goal that doesn’t depends on you it will just make you indifferent or frustrated. It’s wonderful to desire world peace but if you are in a contest for Miss World I have a feeling you can’t do that much in order to make it real.
TIP: before assuming any goal, KPI or targets ask your-self:
- Does it make sense to have it? Is it my job to do it? How is this goal going to influence my behavior and does it goes in contradiction with any other goal that I have now?
- Does it depend on me? if I will put all the necessary effort will it become real?
All goals should have a deadline. Getting there is not enough without knowing when this should happen.
Time is the unit that will tell if any action can be considered a great, or an average, performance. Running 100 m says nothing about the individual that done it … even a child can run 100 m. But running 100 m in under 10 seconds lets you know that we are talking about an athlete.
Also time is the unit that takes us out of the comfort zone. If I would be asked to sell 100 cars I would not be that intimidated … If I start now I will most likely do it by the time I am 80 years old even if I am not selling cars as a profession. But if you ask me to do it in one year, then everything is changing … I would have to sell a car every 3,6 days … Maybe even a professional car seller would become stressed about such objective.
So don’t be just SMART … BE SSMAAART!