Reach Business Goals

Learn How to Make Rocks SMART to Hit Your Business Goals

How often has your team set quarterly objectives, only to forget who was assigned what or what exactly the team leader wanted done on a specific project?

It’s time to leave behind stalled progress and that stifling feeling of running in circles and never actually getting anywhere.

By establishing short-term, 90-day goals — what we call Rocks — you’ll see progress like never before as you work toward your overarching goals. When everyone on your team can see exactly who’s accountable for what, with clear parameters established from the start, they can effectively and efficiently accomplish short-term objectives. And as you tackle your Rocks, you inevitably pave the way toward your team’s 1-Year and 3-Year Goals as well as your company’s Compelling and Audacious Goals (CAGs). With SMART Rocks established, your team can stay focused and aligned, resulting in a company that thrives.

Through Ninety’s platform, you can assign Rocks to specific people and designate whether each is a company, team, or individual Rock. Remember, though, that while one person owns a Rock, many team members can contribute to its completion. Establishing Milestones helps you break the Rock into more manageable steps that can be delegated to others as needed.

As we like to say at Ninety, less is more. If you try to take on too many Rocks, your teams may be spread too thin and morale may plummet when they fall short on agreements. For that reason, each team and individual should have no more than 3–5 Rocks. Once your Rocks (and their owners) are established, it’s time to make them SMART. 

Lead by Example with SMART Rocks

Rocks are usually established during Quarterly or Annual Planning Meetings. Once a Rock is agreed upon by your team, the Rock owner should be assigned a To-Do to make the Rock SMART. One of the most important steps to accomplishing a Rock is making it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) because when you have SMART goals, you increase your chances of completing them. Adding the SMART framework ensures everyone knows what Rock completion looks like, preventing aimlessly floating objectives that never actually get accomplished.

Make your Rocks SMART by adding specific details and Milestones to stay on track. Even though they’re in 90-day increments, Rocks are still big goals, so adding clear steps to complete them helps to make the work more manageable.  

Take these simple steps to make your Rocks SMART:

  1. Specific: Create a detailed one-sentence description of what success looks like. What exactly do you want to achieve? Who is going to own this Rock?
  2. Measurable: Determine the metrics/data you will use to define success or failure. How and when will you monitor progress? Can you automate your data in some way?
  3. Achievable: Analyze the existing competency, commitment, and capacity (CCC) of your team. What resources do you need to acquire? Does your team have at least an 80% chance to complete this Rock?
  4. Relevant: Establish a clear connection between the Rock and a longer-term goal. How will this Rock keep you on track toward that goal? What is the connection between this Rock and the company’s Compelling Why?
  5. Time-bound: Determine a detailed description of the Rock’s deadline. When will you stop collecting new data to determine success or failure? How can you divide this goal into individual steps, or Milestones, to complete along the way?
When each of your SMART Rocks moves from on track to off track or complete, update the status in Ninety so your team knows your real-time progress. Milestones should be reviewed in Weekly Team Meetings to ensure Rocks are on track. If a Rock is off track, it should be turned into an Issue to discuss with the team.
One example of a non-SMART Rock might be, “The Marketing team should increase its followers on social media.” While social media followers can be a stand-in for the type of engagement that leads to sales, this goal isn’t specific (Which social media platform?), relevant (How do followers alone help the business?), or time-bound (When will data stop being collected to determine success or failure?). By revising this example to be SMART, we could get something like: “The Marketing team will increase click-through rates on Instagram ads by 10% by July 31.”
Used this way, you can keep a record of the progress of your Rocks throughout the quarter, creating more accountability for the team member who owns each Rock. Anyone can comment on a Rock, so have the team pose questions, tasks, or updates there. Maintaining a workplace built on accountability and transparency is how team leaders foster high trust among all their Ideal Stakeholders, and high-trust companies are much more likely to get smart stuff done.

Accomplish More with Rocks

When it comes down to it, setting (and achieving) ambitious goals can be the difference between whether your organization grows or dies. No person or company is perfect, so don’t shoot for 100%. We aim to complete 80% or more of our goals. Remember that successfully knocking out Rocks takes time and practice, but once your team learns how to create and follow through on SMART Rocks, you’ll be on track to hit those longer-term goals even sooner than you think.

Sign up for Ninety to start making SMART Rocks today!