smart objectives analysis

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Principal Writer

SMART goals

How to write SMART goals

It’s easier to succeed when you have clearly defined objectives that are based in reality.

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5-second summary

  • Teams often fall short of meeting their goals due to a lack of consensus on the definition of success.
  • SMART goals use a specific set of criteria to help ensure that objectives are clearly defined and attainable within a certain timeframe.
  • Working through each step of creating a SMART goal can reveal instances where priorities and resources are out of alignment.

Meet Jane. She’s a product manager at a mid-sized tech company – let’s call it Techfirm, Inc. Jane has been tasked with increasing usage of Techfirm’s mobile app.

She knows she’ll need all hands on deck to make this happen, but there’s a problem. When Jane has set team-wide goals in the past, they’ve quickly fallen off track. Nobody seemed to have a clear understanding of what success should look like. Progress wasn’t monitored closely enough. And inevitably, that important objective slipped to the back burner (before toppling off the stove entirely).

That’s why, this time around, Jane plans to leverage SMART goals for setting an action plan and staying the course.

Want to get started right now?

Use our template to define the different components of your SMART goal.

5 diagrams that show how context switching saps your productivity

5 diagrams that show how context switching saps your productivity

What are smart goals.

The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Defining these parameters as they pertain to your goal helps ensure that your objectives are attainable within a certain time frame. This approach eliminates generalities and guesswork, sets a clear timeline, and makes it easier to track progress and identify missed milestones.

An example of a SMART-goal statement might look like this: Our goal is to [quantifiable objective] by [timeframe or deadline]. [Key players or teams] will accomplish this goal by [what steps you’ll take to achieve the goal]. Accomplishing this goal will [result or benefit].

Let’s use Jane’s objective to work through each component.

S: Specific

In order for a goal to be effective, it needs to be specific. A specific goal answers questions like:

  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • Who’s responsible for it?
  • What steps need to be taken to achieve it?

Thinking through these questions helps get to the heart of what you’re aiming for. Here’s an example of a specific goal Jane might come up with:

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns.

M: Measurable

Don’t underestimate the outsized impact of short-term goals

Don’t underestimate the outsized impact of short-term goals

Specificity is a solid start, but quantifying your goals (that is, making sure they’re measurable) makes it easier to track progress and know when you’ve reached the finish line.

Jane and her product team want to grow the number of their mobile app users – but by how much? If they get even one new signup, that’s technically positive growth – so does that mean they’re done? Same goes for their strategy; how many platforms will they advertise on? 

To make this SMART objective more impactful, Jane should incorporate measurable, trackable benchmarks.

Increase the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

A: Achievable

This is the point in the process when you give yourself a serious reality check. Goals should be realistic —  not  pedestals from which you inevitably tumble. Ask yourself: is your objective something your team can reasonably accomplish?

Jane might look at her goal and realize that, given her small team and their heavy workload, creating ad campaigns for four social platforms might be biting off more than they can chew. She decides to scale back to the three social networks where she’s most likely to find new clients.

Increase the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Safeguarding the achievability of your goal is much easier when you’re the one setting it. However, that’s not always the case. When goals are handed down from elsewhere, make sure to communicate any restraints you may be working under. Even if you can’t shift the end goal, at least you can make your position (and any potential roadblocks) known up-front.

How to write the perfect 90-day plan

How to write the perfect 90-day plan

R: relevant.

Here’s where you need to think about the big picture. Why are you setting the goal that you’re setting? Jane knows that the app is a huge driver of customer loyalty, and that an uptick in their app usage could mean big things for the company’s bottom-line revenue goals. Now she revises her statement to reflect that context.

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Because mobile users tend to use our product longer, growing our app usage will ultimately increase profitability.

T: Time-bound

To properly measure success, you and your team need to be on the same page about when a goal has been reached. What’s your time horizon? When will the team start creating and implementing the tasks they’ve identified? When will they finish?

SMART goals should have time-related parameters built in, so everybody knows how to stay on track within a designated time frame.

When Jane incorporates those dates, her SMART goal is complete.

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 within Q1 of 2022. This will be accomplished by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns, which will begin running in February 2022, on three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Since mobile is our primary point of conversion for paid-customer signups, growing our app usage will ultimately increase sales.

Knowing how to set goals using the SMART framework can help you succeed in setting and attaining goals, no matter how large or small.

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Which SMART Objectives definition should I use?

Wood letter of SMART objectives definition with hand writing definition for smart goal setting concept

Editor’s note: this page was updat­ed in Jan­u­ary 2020 for accuracy.

George T. Doran report­ed­ly coined the phrase SMART objec­tives back in 1981 . Since then, the acronym has evolved and expe­ri­enced a num­ber of iter­a­tions — mean­ing dif­fer­ent man­agers define SMART objec­tives in dif­fer­ent ways.

While choice is almost always a good thing, in addi­tion to our per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware , we have oth­er guides on per­for­mance man­age­ment tools and process­es avail­able. You like­ly have a num­ber of ques­tions you want answer­ing — which is why we want­ed to cre­ate this com­pre­hen­sive resource. Below, we will explore the following:

What Are SMART Objectives?

  • What SMART Objec­tives Def­i­n­i­tion Should I Use?
  • What is Clear Review’s Sug­gest­ed SMART Objec­tives Definition?

How Do I Get Employ­ees to Write Their Own SMART Objectives?

  • How Do SMART Objec­tives Dif­fer to Per­son­al Devel­op­ment Objectives?

Want to learn more about cre­at­ing SMART objec­tives for Mil­len­ni­als? Read our in-depth blog post on this top­ic here .

Put very sim­ply, SMART objec­tives (or SMART goals) are a form of objec­tive set­ting which allows man­agers and employ­ees to cre­ate, track and accom­plish, short-and-long-term goals.

All too often, goal set­ting gets side­lined in busi­ness. In fact, accord­ing to a  Gallup poll , rough­ly half of all employ­ees don’t know what is expect­ed of them at work. When this is the case, employ­ees get frus­trat­ed, con­fused and dis­en­gaged. On top of this, they are fat­ed to let man­age­ment down, as they don’t have a clear pic­ture of what goals to accom­plish — or how to go about achiev­ing them. 

This is where the SMART acronym comes into play. This sys­tem gives organ­i­sa­tions a smarter way of set­ting objec­tives. Through the use of SMART objec­tives, employ­ee and line man­ag­er can put togeth­er an action plan to improve per­for­mance, increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and con­tribute to organ­i­sa­tion­al goals.

SMART Objec­tives Exam­ples: How To Define SMART

So now you know exact­ly what SMART goals are, the ques­tion becomes — what SMART objec­tives def­i­n­i­tion should I use? How do I  define objec­tives ? How does the SMART acronym break down for the major­i­ty of busi­ness­es? Below, we list the dif­fer­ent (and most com­mon­ly used) versions.

S —  SMART Objec­tives Should Be SPE­CIF­IC and STRETCHING

The ​ “ S” in SMART usu­al­ly stands for spe­cif­ic, to ensure the objec­tive is not vague. Unclear objec­tives are a recipe for dis­as­ter and leave employ­ees uncer­tain how to act, which means you will not expe­ri­ence a true increase in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Using the Gallup ref­er­ence above, we know many man­agers are fail­ing when it comes to help­ing employ­ees set, under­stand and achieve goals.

Are your SMART objec­tives real­ly spe­cif­ic? Take some time to hon­est­ly con­sid­er this. For exam­ple,​“increase sales” is far from a spe­cif­ic objec­tive. An employ­ee might ques­tion: more sales of what? How many more sales? By when? This uncer­tain­ty will only add to stress lev­els and can lead to employ­ee burnout (some­thing that has very recent­ly been recog­nised by the World Health Organ­i­sa­tion ( WHO ) as an organ­i­sa­tion­al phe­nom­e­non of concern).

A spe­cif­ic objec­tive would be: 

“ Increase sales of adver­tis­ing space this cal­en­dar year by  15 %”. 

This gives employ­ees a clear­er idea about what to achieve and by when.

In addi­tion to spe­cif­ic, we also sug­gest objec­tives should be stretch­ing. Stud­ies have shown that when an objec­tive is stretch­ing, it is more moti­vat­ing for the indi­vid­ual and leads to high­er lev­els of achieve­ment. Put sim­ply, stretch­ing goals cre­ate bet­ter results . It should be not­ed, how­ev­er, the degree of stretch needs to be rea­son­able to ensure the objec­tive is real­is­ti­cal­ly achiev­able (see A –​“Achiev­able” below).

M —  SMART Objec­tives Should Be MEASURABLE

When it comes to the SMART objec­tives def­i­n­i­tion, ​ “ M” near­ly always stands for measurable.

It is impor­tant for both an employ­ee and their man­ag­er to under­stand what suc­cess looks like for the objec­tive. This is the only way both par­ties will know if the objec­tive has been achieved. This is why objec­tives need to be track­able, mea­sur­able goals.

The mea­sure of a  SMART objec­tive could be quan­ti­ta­tive or qual­i­ta­tive . A quan­ti­ta­tive mea­sure might be​“Reduce depart­men­tal over­heads by 10 % this finan­cial year”, while a good qual­i­ta­tive objec­tive would be​“Project com­plet­ed on time and with­in bud­get to the sat­is­fac­tion of the customer”.

A —  SMART Objec­tives Should Be ACHIEV­ABLE and AGREED

This let­ter is where some vari­ance occurs between dif­fer­ent SMART objec­tive def­i­n­i­tions. The most com­mon vari­a­tions are achiev­able, attain­able, aligned and agreed. We sug­gest using achiev­able over attain­able, as the word sounds slight­ly less bureau­crat­ic. While per­for­mance objec­tives should cer­tain­ly be aligned upward to the over­all objec­tives of the organ­i­sa­tion, we pre­fer to use rel­e­vant as the ​ “ R” to cov­er this point, as​”aligned” can sound like busi­ness jar­gon to employees.

The ​ “ agreed” point is an impor­tant one — all objec­tives should be agreed by both the indi­vid­ual and the man­ag­er in ques­tion. If the objec­tive is forced upon the indi­vid­ual by the man­ag­er, there will be no own­er­ship on behalf of the indi­vid­ual and the objec­tive is less like­ly to be achieved. On the oth­er hand, if the employ­ee has the free­dom to cre­ate their own objec­tives to a cer­tain extent, the goal is far more like­ly to be achieved, and to a high standard.

If you use an online per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware sys­tem to cap­ture employ­ee objec­tives, the agreed word may not be nec­es­sary, as such sys­tems tend to ensure that both par­ties for­mal­ly agree on the objec­tives before they are finalised.

R —  SMART Objec­tives Should Be RELEVANT

An effec­tive per­for­mance objec­tive should be rel­e­vant to what the organ­i­sa­tion and/​or the team needs to achieve. Oth­er­wise, objec­tives could be suc­cess­ful­ly deliv­ered but have no impact on the over­all per­for­mance of the organ­i­sa­tion — defeat­ing the ulti­mate pur­pose of per­for­mance man­age­ment. There­fore, the over­all goals of the organ­i­sa­tion or team should be shared with indi­vid­u­als, in a lan­guage they can under­stand, before employ­ee objec­tives are set.

In this sense, we rec­om­mend align­ing SMART objec­tives upward, rather than cas­cad­ing goals down­ward . This will improve com­pa­ny com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trans­paren­cy while enabling indi­vid­u­als to come up with objec­tives that will con­tribute to the achieve­ment of these over­all goals.

Note that some SMART objec­tives def­i­n­i­tions use​”real­is­tic” for the R. Of course, real­is­tic goals are impor­tant. How­ev­er, if you have used achiev­able as the A, this is not nec­es­sary, as the two words are essen­tial­ly mak­ing the same point.

T —  SMART Objec­tives Should Be TIME-BOUND

It is very impor­tant that objec­tives have a tar­get date, or a time frame for when they should be com­plet­ed — hence time-bound. This not only pro­vides a sense of urgency but also helps when it comes to review­ing whether or not the objec­tive has been suc­cess­ful­ly achieved. Some com­men­ta­tors advo­cate using​”track­able” for the T instead. How­ev­er, our view is if a clear suc­cess mea­sure is defined (i.e. the objec­tive is mea­sur­able) and a tar­get dead­line set, then it should be easy to track progress towards achiev­ing the objec­tive anyway.

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What Is Clear Review’s Sug­gest­ed SMART Objec­tives Definition?

Here is a sum­ma­ry of our sug­gest­ed SMART Objec­tives def­i­n­i­tion for use with­in your per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem — along with ques­tions that can help prompt indi­vid­u­als when writ­ing objec­tives. Each of the SMART cri­te­ria is as impor­tant as the oth­er, so be care­ful not to over­look one ele­ment or favour one aspect over another:

To fur­ther help guide your SMART objec­­tive-set­t­ing process and to make the most out of this valu­able per­for­mance man­age­ment tool, you can down­load our free PDF tip sheet for set­ting SMART objec­tives . You can also check out our oth­er avail­able resources .

It is essen­tial you encour­age employ­ees to take own­er­ship of their objec­tives and cre­ate them them­selves, with the sup­port, encour­age­ment and super­vi­sion of their line man­ag­er. We have cre­at­ed a detailed how-to guide on how to get employ­ees to write SMART objec­tives , but it all boils down to communication.

Once you can define SMART objec­tives, man­agers must explain the impor­tance of this per­for­mance man­age­ment tool to their employ­ees. Employ­ees should be encour­aged to chal­lenge them­selves , while also being real­is­tic about their par­tic­u­lar strengths and weak­ness­es. Com­pa­nies can then use HR per­for­mance man­age­ment review soft­ware to keep employ­ees engaged — and the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open at all times.

How Do SMART Objec­tives Dif­fer to per­son­al Devel­op­ment Objectives?

SMART objec­tives tend to refer to goals that help to fur­ther organ­i­sa­tion­al objec­tives. This means com­pa­nies are ulti­mate­ly more pro­duc­tive — and bet­ter able to advance and improve.

Per­son­al devel­op­ment objec­tives , on the oth­er hand, describe spe­cif­ic areas where employ­ees feel they need to devel­op to achieve their per­for­mance objec­tives or career goals. They might not be specif­i­cal­ly tied to cor­po­rate objec­tives, but by achiev­ing per­son­al objec­tives, employ­ees can become stronger and more con­fi­dent — and there­fore, more of an asset to the team. Although there are dif­fer­ences, the SMART acronym can also be used to design per­son­al objectives.

Clear Review makes set­ting and track­ing SMART objec­tives easy. To see the world’s sim­plest (and most effec­tive) per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware in action, watch our 7 ‑minute per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware demo video now .

Experience our easy-to-use objective setting and performance management software

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Objectives and goals: writing meaningful goals and smart objectives.

The content on this page follows the half-hour on-demand webinar: Writing meaningful goals and SMART objectives

Goals and objectives

  • A goal is an aspirational statement about what you want to achieve
  • An objective describes how you'll show progress toward your goal

Meaningful goals SMART objectives Further resources

Meaningful goals

What is a goal.

A goal is an aspirational statement about what you want to achieve:

  • Broad, future-oriented statement that describes expected effect
  • Defines scope
  • Provides framework for objectives

Example: All employees in Tubman County work in environments that support mental well-being.

Checklist: What makes a meaningful goal?

  • Free from jargon
  • Specific about expected effect
  • Easily understood
  • Declarative statement
  • Does not include solution or specific service/program
  • Conveys ultimate destination

Considering equity in writing goals

Many factors drive an organization's goals, like codes and statutes, funders, accreditation, and other plans. However: When setting goals, starting with an organization's needs might not be the right place to start, even though it's often the easiest or most intuitive.

We can't completely disregard forces like funders and and statutes, of course, but they also can't be the only thing that we consider when writing goals. Our commitment to health equity requires us to ask some questions when we're writing goals, especially as part of a community health improvement plan:

  • Whose goals and standards are these?
  • What do our goals and standards say about who and what we value?
  • Who is at the table? Who is missing?
  • Do the questions we're asking matter to those most impacted?
  • Are we aiming upstream?
  • What systems change is possible?
  • How are we considering racism?

Source: Michigan Public Health Institute

SMART objectives

A SMART objective is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. SMART objectives provide the details for how a group or organization will achieve a goal.


In order to understand how the parts of SMART objectives flow together, the order of the SMART components listed below will go out of order— SMTRA . This is because the Specific, Measurable and Time-Bound parts are clearly visible in the standard written format for objectives. The Achievable and Relevant pieces are more abstract and require reflection. Each of these parts will include an example objective that will be re-written to be SMART.

SMART objectives should:

  • Include all components of SMART
  • Relate to a single result
  • Be clearly written (use plain language, avoid jargon)

Specific objectives:

  • Are precise
  • Are clear to team, partners, and other groups
  • Use plain language and avoid jargon
  • Use verbs that document action

Prompts to consider when writing specific objectives include:

  • Who : Who will be impacted? Who is your focus population?
  • What : What do you intend to impact?

Note that not all of these questions will apply to every objective.

Example: Reduce the percent of Tubman County  students in grades 6 through 12 who have smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days .

How will we show impact over time? Use a measure , to show progress toward a target :

  • Measure : A measure is a number, percent, or standard unit used as a reference point from which change can be monitored.
  • Target : A target is the direction we want to move the measure, or the level we want to reach.
  • Data source : Be sure to tie your measure and target to a specific data source, like a regular survey or publication, or a state or local agency.

Prompts to consider when writing measurable objectives include:

  • How much and in what direction will change occur?
  • What data will you use to measure? 
  • Where will this data come from?
  • Is there a stand-in or proxy measure to use if you cannot directly measure this objective? If not, would another measure be more appropriate instead?

Example: Decrease by 5 percentage points the number of Tubman County students in grades 6 through 12 who have smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days ( baseline: 18%; data source: 2019 Minnesota Student Survey ).

Time-bound objectives attach a reasonable date by which and objective will happen.

  • Not too soon: Give enough time to demonstrate success and/or the connection between action and outcome
  • Not too far away: Don't encourage procrastination, or remove the ability to connect the dots between action and outcome
  • Consider when data will be available: May determine your time for you

Prompts to consider when writing time-bound objectives include:

  • Is this time frame realistic?
  • Should it be closer? Should it be further away?
  • When will the data be available?

Example: By December 31, 2022 , decrease by 5 percentage points the number of Tubman County students in grades 6 through 12 who have smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days (baseline: 18%; data source: 2019 Minnesota Student Survey).

Objectives should be within reach for your partners, community, or team, and consider available resources, knowledge, and time. Remember, considering what's achievable for your team or organization often requires thought and discussion.

Prompts to consider when writing achievable objectives include:

  • How will the group accomplish this objective?
  • Does the current time frame or environment help or hinder this objective? Should we scale the target or time frame up or down?
  • What resources will help us achieve this objective? What limitations or constraints stand in our way?

A note of caution about setting objectives for long-term, population-level change:

  • Complex, long-term issues require decades of work for change; your organization's actions are one small part
  • Who's on the hook if you don't achieve your target?
  • Is it more appropriate to measure movement direction without setting a concrete target number? (e.g., increase, decrease, or maintain)
  • Consider intermediate objectives when appropriate

Example intermediate objective with target direction AND number: By December 31, 2022, increase the percent of establishments that pass tobacco compliance checks from 75% to 80% (data source: 2020 Tubman County Sheriff's Department).

Example long-term objective with JUST target direction: By December 31, 2025, decrease the percent of Tubman County students in grades 6-12 who smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days (baseline: 82%, data source: 2019 Minnesota Student Survey).

Relevant objectives align with a corresponding goal and with an organization or group's mission, vision, and values. They're important to partners, community members, and decision-makers, and they help achieve meaningful change for focus populations.

Prompts to consider when writing relevant objectives include:

  • Will objective contribute to achieving goal? 
  • Is it worthwhile and meaningful to measure this objective?

Different ways to write SMART objectives

There are multiple approaches and ways to explain how to write SMART objectives. Here are some other sentence structures for objectives:

[ Who ] will do [ what ] resulting in [ measure ] by [ when ].

By [ when ], [ who ] will do [ what ] resulting in [ measure ].

By [ when ], [ measure - includes who and what ].

[ Measure – includes who and what ] by [ when ].

Further resources

Writing meaningful goals and SMART objectives Minnesota Dept. of Health

Writing SMART Objectives (PDF) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CHIP Collaborative Handbook: Community Health Improvement Planning (PDF) Kansas Health Institute

"SMART" Objectives (PDF) March of Dimes, Hawaii Chapter

Developing Goals, Objectives, and Performance Indicators for Community Health Improvement Plans (PDF) National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO)

Developing and Using SMART Objectives Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange (PHQIX)

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smart objectives analysis

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SMART Goals and Objectives: Definition, Characteristics, and Examples


Setting SMART objectives and goals is an important step toward success in both personal and professional life. However, merely stating goals or purpose is insufficient; it must be SMART goal. SMART objectives and goals assist you in developing objectives that are clear, specified, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

In this article, we’ll define SMART objectives and goals, describe their qualities, and present examples to help you understand how to use them.

Content Index

What are SMART goals and objectives?

What does s.m.a.r.t. stand for, why should you clearly define smart goals and objectives, management by objectives (mbo).

  • Principles in setting up SMART Goals and Objectives
  • What is the Difference between Smart Goals and Objectives?
  • Importance of SMART Goals and Objectives
  • Advantages and disadvantage of SMART goals and objectives
  • SMART Objectives and Goals Examples

SMART goals and objectives are a method for establishing Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound aims. The SMART framework defines goals and objectives clearly and practically, making them more actionable and increasing the likelihood of success. SMART is an acronym that stands for SMART goal and is used to help in goal setting. 

In this modern, technology-driven world, one of the most widely used words is “SMART.”

This word is utilized in many industries due to its efficiency and objectivity. The SMART technique is also a practical tool that can save relevant professionals in competitive industries like marketing, sales, advertising, market research, etc. 

Smartphones, smart TVs, and other everyday items have this word prefixed to their names. We now realize that term refers to something intelligent due to its operation and technological progress.

More than just Theory: 300+ Ready-Made Survey Templates to evaluate your SMART goal and objective.

Take a few minutes to clear your head; let us analyze the SMART method to achieve SMART objectives and goals. With constant practice, it will be easier to apply this method. However, for starters, let us understand what each alphabet in the word “SMART” mean.

smart objectives analysis


A-achievable, t-time-based.

Do you know what the importance of clearly defining objectives and goals is?

  • Time doesn’t pass in vain for anyone, more importantly, not for organizations or businesses. Every minute, every second, a new idea is conceptualized, and with these ideas growing, there is a growing competition out there.
  • Every day there is a new organization or business ready to give tough competition to its counterparts and competitors.  In this competitive atmosphere, it is also essential to win customers and also understand customer satisfaction levels. Not only this, you have to constantly monitor to verify that every department in your business or organization is working efficiently, just like perfect machinery. 
  • It may sound like a tedious process in which one question leads you to more questions , and then it seems like a never-ending story because only some know how to land their thoughts. Remember, putting down your goals and objectives on paper will help you put your thoughts and your imagination to work in reality.

To summarize it in a concise and very significant sentence: walking without objectives is like navigating without a compass. 

Imagine the immensity of the open sea and you in the middle of it, it is a moment in which you do not know what to do, nor do you know the resources you can count on and much less know which side of the ocean or sea will be better to go.

The best thing is to start making some kind of effort to move forward, right? You cannot stay there; however, it is difficult to know at that stage if everything you do will have optimal results and bring you closer to the right path. 

The most likely thing is that these efforts might exhaust you, and you do not know if everything you did will be worthwhile for something. On the contrary, if you know the goal you should reach, it will be easier to use your energy to achieve it once and for all.

People, groups, and systems need clear, structured, and well-defined objectives from the particular to the general. setting a goal is stated to gain a clear understanding of what needs to be delivered, and the person assessing may then judge the outcome based on defined smart criteria.

The same happens with the objectives of a company. We all have an end to this life, and we cannot get up every day thinking about facing when we are approaching the end because, in this way, there will come a time when we feel that we are not doing enough to sustain ourselves in this world.

Learn more: Demographic Segmentation .

SMART objectives are a primary way to collect feedback and communicate within the organization. SMART goal and objective is directly derived from management by objectives (M.B.O.). It was an effective way of completing tasks by prioritizing objectives.

Feedback is important because it showcases the room for improvement and is an insight into the company. Feedback includes periodic checks to measure current results vs. expected and current results vs. end objectives. The progress can be recorded by asking basic questions like:

  • Is the plan being executed in the right manner?
  • Are the efforts tangible that they are aiding the progress of the project?
  • Are changes required to be made to the current plan?

The SMART objective helps break down these questions and goals even further, where the scope of every milestone is measured. The SMART objective help set goals and track progress to meet the end objective. 

A SMART goal helps in following through on goals and prevents getting distracted. Through these goals, different objective goals can be set up, namely:

Long term goals

Intermediate-term goals, short term goals, principles in setting up smart goals and objectives.

It is an essential task to write SMART goals and objectives and setting up them. The smart goal criteria or the principles of goal-setting theory are:


Task complexity

What is the difference between smart goals and smart objectives.

“SMART goals” and “SMART objectives” are frequently used interchangeably, although their meanings might vary depending on the context. However, in some circumstances, a difference can be made between the two. Let us analyze the distinction:

  • Goals are broad, all-encompassing statements that describe the desired outcome or result. They are frequently long-term and give a general framework for your activities.
  • These goals are clear, measurable, doable, important, and have deadlines. They use the SMART goal framework to ensure their goals are clear and improve their chances of success.
  • Goals concentrate on the “what” you want to accomplish and provide a precise aim to work toward.

SMART Objective

  • Objectives are more defined, short-term milestones that help to reach the overall aim. They are actionable steps that explain the actions and activities needed to achieve the intended result.
  • SMART objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. They are intended to be more specific and to provide a clear roadmap for attaining the goal.
  • SMART Objectives concentrate on the “how” and “when” of achieving a goal, breaking it into achievable steps.

Importance of SMART goals and objectives

SMART goals and objectives are highly important for individuals and organizations alike. Here are several reasons why they are crucial:

Clarifies end objective

Effective time management, reminds you of priorities, obliges to take action, advantages and disadvantages of smart goals and objectives.

SMART goals and objectives offer several advantages, but they also have some potential disadvantages. Let’s explore both sides:

Advantages of SMART goals and objectives

SMART goals and objectives have several advantages that make them effective. Some of the primary advantages are as follows:

They are not vague: Since SMART goals and objectives are extremely procedural, each milestone and feedback is planned and monitored in complete detail. It mitigates the factor of uncertainty.

Missed work is easy to track: Each person is given a specific responsibility; hence, when work is not completed, it is very easy to troubleshoot the gaps in delivery. It makes everyone extremely accountable, and any loss of work is easy to track.

Goals are divided into small achievable objectives: SMART goals have an end, but SMART objectives are further divided into bite-sized milestones. Hence, no matter the scale of the end goal, it is very easily achievable.

Disadvantages of SMART goals and objectives

SMART goals and objectives have several disadvantages that make them effective. Some of the primary disadvantages are as follows:

No importance to other tasks: All other work gets ignored due to the system’s rigidity. Also, there is lesser scope for innovation or trying to complete work differently because the work is milestone based.

Lots of pressure: There is immense pressure to complete work in a given time frame, making the environment extremely stressful and challenging.

Different interpretations by different people: The pressure to complete goals and objectives is open to interpretation by different people. The urgency or rigidity of the process is construed differently by different people.

LEARN ABOUT: Theoretical Research

SMART objectives and goals examples

Here are a few examples to help you strategize and define your organization’s SMART objectives and Goals :

  • Defining objectives requires time, patience, and the complete know-how of how an organization functions, but it needs clarity above anything else. For example, many organizations need to define clear objectives, which reflects in many ways. But with SMART objectives and methods, it is possible to define goals clearly.
  • To clearly define objectives, one may need to sit down and ask questions, for example, “What is that I would like my organization or business to achieve? Why do I want to achieve these targets? Do I have the necessary resources to achieve these objectives?”, among many other questions that you need to ask yourself, let’s accept it feel like this is boring and absolutely unnecessary.  
  • Take a step back and think, do you even know how many companies have suffered bankruptcy because they didn’t feel the need to define their objectives? You might even be tempted to think that the process is a complete waste of your time. Instead of wasting your valuable time speculating and penning down your thoughts, it is advisable to get down to do some real work and start with the action plan.
  • While you may have decided to start functioning without a plan, there are hundreds of companies that take the target date to do it step by step and then achieve goals in a faster way, winning customers, reducing customer churn , taking away place, and even unseat everything you have already achieved. Taking action concretely and clearly understanding facts and figures will not take you anywhere. On the contrary, this will waste your time, effort, work, quality, and even your reputation in the market.
  • To avoid all the tragedies previously reported, do you still think this is a waste of time? Do you still believe that it is better to postpone it? If your answer is NO, congratulations! The SMART method is easier than you imagined it to be.  

Learn more: Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Let us take an example to understand how SMART objectives and SMART goals help save time. Image an organization that works to remove plastic bags and similar waste from the entire city has objectives and goals defined as:

“Our goal is to make the entire city clean and free of any plastic and plastic waste.”

This goal is a little vague. However, if the objective and goal were rewritten as, “As an organization, we aim to clean the city and make it free from any plastic waste in the next two years with the help and support of our volunteers.”

The second time the goal and objective were rewritten, it had a particular timeline, the specific activity was mentioned, who would be helping the organization was clear, and what they wanted to achieve was certain.

In this manner, people who are associated with the organization know what their tasks are and what the time-bound in which they need to achieve them. This helps avoid any confusion, and activities go on smoothly without hesitation.

LEARN ABOUT: Behavioral Targeting

SMART objectives and Goals are an important part of a company’s growth. The Managers and Directors of Marketing, Sales, Human Resources, and many other areas must be fully involved in defining these goals.

For all, the growth of the company also implies personal growth. The only way to achieve this is by having order and structure clearly defining the objectives.

Do not waste more time doing actions that won’t yield the desired results. Start defining your SMART objectives and give your team enough reasons why they should get down to work as soon as possible. 

Giving them a good goal is part of the motivation everyone in the organization needs. Remember increasing team productivity is always favorable and does wonders for achieving the organization’s overall growth.



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In this article, we look at how to set SMART objectives. SMART objectives or SMART goals help make objective and goal setting easy. They ensure your goals and objectives provide clarity and increase your chances of getting more things done.

SMART objectives and goals are a key component of time management , performance management and management & leadership . SMART as a tool is often used incorrectly or used for the wrong things, as not every goal or target can be SMART.

What is SMART?

SMART is an acronym that provides a checklist to ensure objectives and goals are set correctly. SMART stands for:

SMART Objectives

Your objective should clearly state what you or the person needs to achieve. It should include a direction of movement or action, and your objective should describe what needs to be achieved. For example:

Your objective should include a measure that shows how you will know the objective has been met or the goal achieved. This measure needs to be tangible, able to be monitored and proof available that the objective has been met or the goal achieved. This could be:

  • A KPI (key performance indicator)
  • Completion of something

The goal or objective must be possible to achieve. Sometimes, you might need to stretch yourself to achieve it, but it should not be impossible.

The objective or goal must be realistic in that it is in your realm of responsibility or authority to achieve it. Is it part of your role? Do you have the right authority, responsibility, tools, time and resources to achieve it?

The objective or goal must have a time of when it will be achieved. This can be a fixed point in the future or a reoccurring time if the objective is a regular task you complete as part of your job.

SMART is essentially a checklist you can apply to an objective you have written to ensure it is all of the above and, therefore a SMART objective or a SMART goal.

One common mistake with SMART objectives and goals is that it is assumed that we should write one statement for each of the 5 points in SMART. This would give us a 5 or more sentence objective. Your objective should be short and succinct while remaining SMART.

A major reason we write SMART objectives and goals is that we want them to be clearly understood. If the objective is too long, it makes the objective too complex.

Examples of SMART Objectives and Goals

Let’s assume for a moment that a chocolate biscuit factory employs us, and we have Tom, one of our team members. Tom’s role is to oversee a machine that produces chocolate biscuits and to check their quality. Tom’s machine can create 100 biscuits each hour it is in operation.

If we set Tom an objective that states:

Produce 100 biscuits per hour.

Is this a SMART objective or goal?

The answer is no. The objective is not specific enough. Tom could essentially allow 100 biscuits to leave his production line and some could be round, some could be square, some could be salty, and some could be sweet, and he still would have achieved his objective. He has essentially made 100 biscuits.

To make this more specific, we need to add more detail:

Produce 100 biscuits to the company recipe and quality standard each hour.

Is this now a SMART objective or goal?

The answer is still probably no. That’s because the objective states that Tom only has to create 100 per hour. It doesn’t stretch him. We could add:

Produce a minimum of 100 biscuits to the company recipe and quality standard each hour.

Yes. We could go a stage further and make this objective specific to Tom:

Tom will produce a minimum of 100 biscuits to the company recipe and quality standard each hour.

In this case, we can’t stretch Tom by increasing the number of biscuits or shortening the time, as Tom’s machine is only supposed to produce around 100 biscuits per hour.

Let’s look at another example.

Let’s say we want to learn conversational Spanish before we travel to the country on holiday next year.

If we set ourselves an objective that states:

Learn to speak Spanish by next year.

The answer is no. The objective is not specific enough. We could learn the words Ola and Adios and now state that we can speak Spanish.

Learn to speak conversational Spanish by this time next year.

The answer is still no. That’s because the problem above still occurs. That’s because the objective or goal is all wrong. We are setting our SMART objective or goal around the wrong thing. The question we need to ask is “how will I know that I can speak Spanish?”. In this case, you could sit an exam. Passing the exam would become your SMART objective or goal. For example:

Pass the level 2 conversation Spanish exam by the 27th of July XXXX.

Yes. We could go a stage further and make this objective specific to us:

I will pass the level 2 conversation Spanish exam by the 27th of July XXXX.

Mistakes With SMART Objectives and Goals

The second example above is a common mistake with SMART objectives and goals. Not everything can be SMART. But, we see many examples where people are forced to make it SMART.

We need to find the measurable in what we are trying to achieve and set our goals and objectives around these things. For example:

I will improve communication in our company by this time next year.
I will increase the levels of motivation in my team by next month.

The above may appear to be SMART objectives or goals, but they are not. How will you measure this? If we are to create SMART objectives or goals around these points, we must look at how we can measure the success of our actions. For example, more motivated employees may mean less sickness or increased performance. Better communication may lead to faster turnaround times.

In these cases, we look to the KPI’s and this is where our SMART objective or goals should be set:

I will reduce the turnaround times of customer orders by a minimum of 1 day by this time next year. I will reduce sickness absence in my team by 10 per cent by next month

The two original statements become the “how” and not the “what”.

Variations of SMART

There are some variations of the original SMART acronym descriptions.

  • A becomes agreed – the objective is an agreement between a manager and team member
  • A becomes attainable – often used as a simple change in language
  • R becomes relevant – this provides clearer separation between achievable and realistic

Further Learning

If you wish to find out how to set SMART objectives and goals in more detail, you may find a leadership skills training course will help. Take a look at our Leadership Skills Training Course for more details.

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In this article.

  • 1. Background
  • 2. What is SMART?
  • 3. Specific
  • 4. Measurable
  • 5. Achievable
  • 6. Realistic
  • 8. Examples of SMART Objectives and Goals
  • 9. Mistakes With SMART Objectives and Goals
  • 10. Variations of SMART
  • 11. Further Learning

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What are SMART objectives and how do I apply them?

Written by Debbie Herridge - Apprentice for Professional Academy

It’s fundamental to set yourself objectives and goals, even resolutions, but we tend to generalize our goals. For example, an objective could be to ‘increase sales’. But increase them by how much? And by when? A much more achievable goal could be to ‘Increase sales by 10% by the end of this month’. Then you have just set yourself a much more achievable goal, this is the purpose of an SMART goal.

As an apprentice for Professional Academy, part of my coursework was to set myself SMART goals to complete during the time I am here. After learning what they were and how to apply them I realised they are much more efficient than your conventional objective.

SMART objectives infographic

So what does it stand for?

Be specific! There’s no use in setting a generic goal because it won’t suit you personally, however if you adapt the goal to apply to what you need, then it will be much more valuable to you. Of course you want to prosper in your field of work, but isn’t everyone in the office thinking the same? 

M measureable

Is it quantifiable? For instance going back to the example objective of selling more, you can measure this by the amount of units sold. Being a measurable goal allows you to identify when exactly it has been reached, i.e. what you desire as the end result.

A achievable

The point of a target is to challenge and motivate yourself to complete a piece of work, if you was to set your target too high it can cause stress and so decreasing the chance of your target actually being within reach. Likewise if a target was too easy will inhibit you from pushing yourself and doing more. Setting yourself a reasonable target is crucial!

R realistic

‘I’m going to own a multimillion pound enterprise by the end of the month’ Might be a tad too ambitious, don’t get me wrong ambition is a leading trait, but maybe start off with something more realistic, remember all successful business people don’t just become successful overnight.

T time bound

Deadlines. Not something we like, but something most of us need. Especially if you’re someone like me, who tends to procrastinate. For example, if you’re sat at your desk knowing you have work to do, it’s easy to get lost in the world of the internet looking at cute animal photos or funny videos, but what if you were to say ‘Right, by 2 o’clock I want to have completed…’ then you’ve just motivated yourself to complete a job by an allotted time.

So why should you apply SMART goals to your working and even personal life?

Not only because it’s such a satisfying feeling to tick something off your To-do list but they can help you become more organized and sort out your priorities. They’re highly motivating and can give a sense of focus and purpose.

Find out more about SMART and how it can be applied to progressing in your marketing career in the short video below!

SMART is used across all courses and all levels in Professional Academy Qualifications so whether you are looking to study a qualification in Management & Leadership , Marketing , Sales or Digital Marketing you will always hear the term referred to. If you would like to find out more about Professional Qualifications why not download a prospectus or get in touch with an adviser today ? 


Apply for a course, workshop dates, call: 01223 365 505, email: [email protected].

Copyright © 2023 Professional Academy All Rights Reserved.


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