Goals should be high level, such as “Increase community engagement.” Objectives should be SMART goals, such as “increase newsletter subscription by 10% in 3 months.”
Your organization’s strategic plan will inform the next couple of sections. If you already have an established strategic plan, then this is an opportunity to extend it to communications. If you have never made a strategic plan, then this will serve as a basic strategic plan.
The goals are the basics of what does your organization hope to do, who do you want to impact and how. Goals can be anywhere from “increase sales” to “improve customer relationships” to “gain a wider audience.” Goals are where you let your hopes and dreams come out. When you’re first listing goals, write them all down. You will know the many things that your organization is working towards.
Once you have a good list of large scale goals, then you need to start refining and prioritizing. Decide what the most pressing opportunities are and focus your attention on those. Unless there are problems that actively require your attention, keep your goals centered on strengths that you can improve upon and areas where you could use development. Your goals must be within your control.
Objectives should be approached from a very different angle. Now that you have your top-level goals settled, find a way to turn the goals into SMART goals.
SMART is a standard acronym for goal setting and stands for:
S- Specific: Each part of a SMART goal must be specific. We use specifics so that objectives can be measured. Specific timeframes to achieve timeliness. If you’re not specific, you can’t tell if your objectives are achievable or realistic.
M- Measurable: This can be either numbers or descriptors, although unless you have experience measuring qualitatively I would stick to number based goals. Some examples of measurable objectives are by percentage (10% sales growth for example), by a flat number (30 new clients), or task completion (2nd draft of grant application by September 15th).
A- Achievable: This depends on the size and flexibility of your organization. If you are a part of a large organization or a quickly growing business, you can be more ambitious with what is achievable for your organization. If you are a part of a small staff, then you have to be more humble with what you consider achievable.
R- Realistic: Know your limits and the limits of your team. For example, if you are an established non-profit, you shouldn’t expect to be able to triple your clients in a month. Based on past performance, push the boundaries, but just slightly. If you haven’t recorded your organization’s performance before, then set small goals first, and review them after a short period.
T- Timely: All your goals should have a specific timeframe attached to them. This can be a timeline for review, or a timeline for completion. For example: “Launch Google ad campaign by February 5th,” or “Release new services document 2 months after rebranding.” Remember to keep your timelines realistic, but not too drawn out.
If you follow these guidelines, your objectives should be clearly defined and understood by all members of your team. If the entire team does not completely understand a goal, then keep reviewing it. Having the entire team pushing in the same direction is very important in trying to achieve your goals.