The Rocks tool allows you to see your team's Rocks and associated Milestones

Best Practices in Setting Rocks [How to Make SMART Goals in 4 Steps]

Making your Rocks SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals can be the determining factor between completing the Rock and not completing the Rock. Ensuring that your team deconstructs their Rocks into Milestones and clearly defines what a successful Rock looks like will set them up for success. 

Identifying the Rocks that march your company toward achieving its long-term goals is half the battle; completing it is easier now that the task is identified. There is an essential step in identifying the Rock and getting to work on it — what we here at Ninety call “SMARTening up” our Rocks. 

The theory behind SMART goals stretches back to the 1980s and has since become nearly ubiquitous, so we’ll assume you have a working knowledge of its tenets for this post. The University of Massachusetts has an excellent, in-depth guide if you need some background.

For now, we’ll dive into what the process looks like within Ninety. This topic will be a multi-week series. In this week’s post, we’ll explore how to start the SMART goal process on Ninety.

Step 1: Remind everyone to follow the SMART goal-setting process.

Your team will likely generate most of their Rocks during Quarterly and Annual Planning Meetings. Internally here at Ninety, each Rock recipient receives a “SMARTen Up Your Rock” task, created as a To-Do, immediately after the meeting. This To-Do is typically batch-assigned by whoever ran the Meeting

This To-Do serves as a reminder to complete the Rock-SMARTening steps while the conversation surrounding the Rock’s development remains fresh in their minds. The sooner, the better, but the To-Do timeframe of a week is generally acceptable. You should be good to go if you can capture the context from the meeting that leads to the Rock. 

This To-Do should be easy to get out the door – it can be created and assigned to each team member simultaneously. 

Step 2: Define the goal.

With that reminder in place, the actual process of SMARTening the Rock can take place. The first step is to make sure the goal of the Rock is so clear that anyone can recognize its purpose. Going through this process should knock out the “specific” and “relevant” steps of SMART because spelling out the details will paint a picture of what the end-game looks like and whether it’s truly going to impact your overall goals. 

Ideally, you left the big quarterly or annual meeting with this level of understanding, but this is an excellent time to schedule any follow-ups to ensure everyone is on the same page. When you’ve achieved a clear understanding for yourself, use Ninety to spell it out within the body of the Rock so anyone can understand it at a glance. 

Ideally, within the software, you will spell out the goal at the top of your Rock with any supporting details outlined below. This way, when the team reviews Rock status in subsequent meetings, everyone can quickly get on the same page and make recommendations about making progress. 

Want to know about the last two steps? Read the next blog in the series: SMARTen up Rocks, Part 2. These steps will revolve around using Ninety to help define exactly how you’ll know when to check off your Rock as complete and the steps you’ll take to get there.