SMART Objectives: Meaning, Writing Tips & Examples

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What are SMART objectives? Keep reading to learn about the benefits of them. This includes what they are, how to identify and write them and how they’re often used at work.

Key Facts 

  • SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. 

  • SMART objectives can enhance clarity around short- and long-term goals.

  • Making your goals as clear as possible helps keep your team on the same page while saving valuable company resources. 

What Are SMART Objectives?

SMART objectives are a method of goal-setting that enables employees and leadership to have more precise control over creating, tracking and completing short- and long-term goals. They consist of five unique components, each used to further define your goals and the best way to achieve them.

How Do You Write SMART Objectives?

Developing a SMART objective means breaking down goals and ensuring that they meet the five key criteria listed below:

S for Specific

A specific goal is one defined clearly so that it’s easily understood by you and your team. Remove any vagueness that could potentially cause misunderstandings down the line. For example, ‘I want to improve our product’ is a less specific goal than ‘I want to add two features to our product designed to improve the customer’s user experience.’

M for Measurable

A measurable goal is one where the criteria for achieving is clearly defined. Quantitative or qualitative benchmarks help you and your team track progress on achieving an objective more reliably. For example, ‘I want to increase company profits’ is a less measurable goal than ‘I want to increase our annual revenue by 10% by the end of the next fiscal year.’

A for Achievable

An achievable goal is one you can realistically accomplish with your current team and resources. Before beginning a project, checking attainability helps control its scope, avoiding trouble with the budget and deadline. For example, you split one big update for your software into three smaller ones after realising how long each new feature would take to code. 

R for Relevant

A relevant goal has a larger impact on the organisation as a whole once it’s complete. Ensuring your company is aligned with company goals helps with transparency in a team setting and avoids unnecessary use of resources. For example, a goal to increase brand awareness with a marketing campaign becomes more relevant when a purpose is added, like the end goal to add a certain number of new subscribers to your service. 

T for Time-bound

A time-bound goal is one that has set timeframes for reaching certain milestones and completing the objective. Having deadlines for your goals ensures a sense of urgency for delivery and adds time-based benchmarks to track progress. For example, ‘I want to add a new feature to our existing programme that adds new customers to our platform’ becomes time-bound if you want the update to launch by September. 

Tips for Writing SMART Objectives

The complexity of creating a SMART objective depends on what exactly you’re trying to achieve. Here are some helpful tips that you can apply to make the process easier:

  • Engage With Your Goal. You may not be able to set every objective yourself, but finding a way to engage with it regardless will help motivate you to complete it. Additionally, that motivation can work as an example for your team to get them engaged with the objective.

  • Align Your Team With the Process. Your team should understand the SMART process to help align them with the goal itself. Schedule meetings and frequent check-ins with your team to reinforce expectations and increase overall productivity. 

  • Create an Action Plan. Once you’ve finalised your SMART objective, it’s time to outline the steps needed to reach it. Identify all the tasks needed to complete your objective, set deadlines for them, and assign each one to an appropriate member of your team.

  • Set up a Shared Schedule. Collaboration software keeps everyone on track, organising each step and keeping employees aware of upcoming tasks.

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SMART Objectives Examples

‘I want to improve employee retention’

SMART objective: I want to decrease overall employee turnover by 15% over four months by encouraging a healthier work-life balance and being more proactive in recognising team member achievements.

  • Specific. Stating how you want to improve employee retention takes a goal from lofty to achievable. 

  • Measurable. 15% is the qualitative benchmark for success.

  • Achievable. The end goal is realistic and does not require miracles to occur to meet the objective. 

  • Relevant. Noting high rates of employee turnover at the company, this goal is tailored to solving a real problem in a reasonable timeframe. 

  • Time-bound. ‘Over four months’ assigns a timeline to realise improvement. 

‘I want to increase sales’

SMART objective: I want to increase sales by 20% over the next 12 months by doubling down on efforts to grow our ecommerce operations.

  • Specific. The goal is clearly stated and offers a roadmap on what to do to achieve it. 

  • Measurable. Increasing sales by 20% is the measurable achievement. 

  • Achievable. The percentage assigned here is a realistic one, especially because the SMART goal relies on one way to increase sales: ecommerce. 

  • Relevant. Online shopping is at an all-time high, and your organisation has an opportunity to boost annual sales figures through this channel. 

  • Time-bound. This SMART goal gives employees 12 months to achieve the goal. 

‘I want to increase company profits’

SMART objective: I want to increase my organisation’s annual profits by 15% in six months by decreasing overhead costs through work-from-home protocol that downscales office space.

  • Specific. The goal immediately identifies the how, and not just the what, of an admirable business goal. 

  • Measurable. The measure of success here is a 15% increase in annual profits and a reduction in office space leased. 

  • Achievable. The objective is achievable thanks to the prevalence of remote communications technology helping the transition to work-from-home positions.

  • Relevant. Adding remote positions creates less of a need for existing office space, allowing the organisation to downsize and reduce costs of utility bills and other variable costs. 

  • Time-bound. The deadline for introducing work-from-home operations is six months. 

The Importance of SMART Objectives

Clarity is important within a work environment, particularly when it comes to setting short or long-term goals. Vague goals can lead to misunderstandings that cost company resources, waste time, and frustrate employees with never-ending timelines and constant changes. With SMART objectives, the goal is clear to everyone who sees it, getting everyone on the same page from moment one and enabling more effective communication and collaboration.

Frequently Asked Questions About SMART Objectives

What Does SMART Objective Mean?

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By specifying your objectives according to these five criteria, the chances of achieving them increase.

How Do You Write a SMART Objective?

Writing a SMART objective means ensuring your goals meet five key criteria:

  • Specific. Your goal is clearly defined.

  • Measurable. The goal has a trackable benchmark for success.

  • Achievable. The goal can be reached with the resources at your disposal.

  • Relevant. The objective will make an impact on company goals. 

  • Time-bound. The goal has a set time frame for completion.

Why Are SMART Objectives Used?

SMART objectives are used to create clearly understood goals that are easily followed by anyone who views them. They’re meant to help reduce misunderstandings when working on a project while at the same time they help progress stay on track. 

Set Crystal Clear Objectives in the Workplace

Using SMART objectives helps you keep control of any project you’re working on and make steady progress toward your goal. Personio can provide even more assistance with its convenient task list and automated reminders, helping your team stay aligned with the goal and each other. Book your free demo to learn how Personio can help you accomplish your objectives.


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