Imagine two companies — both sell jam, flaunt the same market share and have 20 employees, one factory and a dog as an office mascot. Which peddles more jam? The one using SMART goals.
When properly executed, the SMART goal-setting method is a foolproof way to bring you closer to your business goals. But how can you be sure you’re doing it right? In this article, we’ll explain what SMART goals are, why they’re important and most importantly, how to write them.
The SMART framework is used in business to set effective goals that are easy to track, but SMART goals aren’t named so simply because they’re a good idea. SMART is an acronym — it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound, the parameters by which to set your business goals.
Setting SMART goals is essential for many reasons, but it all comes down to achieving your business dreams. An organisation implementing SMART goals may see benefits in four key areas:
For a team to succeed, a shared vision is essential. By creating visibility, SMART goals align team members and provide meaning to everyday tasks.
SMART goals bring order to your to-do list by asking you to prioritise tasks by importance and deadline, simplifying the decision-making process.
It’s simple — SMART goal-setting propels you forward by creating a vision. Achievable, time-sensitive goals motivate teams, improving collaboration and reducing time-wasting activities.
When SMART goals are broken down into tasks, managers have more insight into teams' workflow, allowing for gaps to be filled and more effective time management.
It’s not what you know about the SMART method — it’s how you use it. Here’s how to write short- and long-term goals using the SMART framework.
Your objective needs to be clear to make sure all relevant team members are aligned. Here are some questions to answer to achieve specificity in your goal setting:
SMART goals should be measurable and allow you to track your progress easily. Quantifiable targets should answer questions like:
Good SMART goals stay within reach. They should be ambitious within the realm of possibilities. Answer these questions to ensure your goals are achievable:
Relevant SMART goals fit in with the business’ bigger picture. A relevant goal answers yes to the following:
It’s all about deadlines — providing a target date brings focus to your goals. A time-bound goal should answer the following questions:
In the following scenarios, we break down general goals to meet each metric of the SMART framework.
SMART goal: Improve CSAT and NPS scores by 10% each by Q2.
SMART goal: Build a fitness class sign-up app and achieve 2,000 installs within three months of the December launch.
SMART goal: Write eight new blogs a month and increase organic traffic by 1o% before the EOFY.
See other examples of SMART goals.
Goals are goals — whether they’re SMART or simple, ambitious or everyday, they’re likely to serve you in some form. But not all goals are created equal. Some goal-setting frameworks, such as SMART, outperform others based on factors such as adoption or success rates. Other goal-setting methods may be overly general, making them difficult to action.
SMART goals take the ambiguity out of goal-setting and help you visualise what success looks like. With specificity and measurability, it’s easier to gauge the status of the goal and identify missed targets. Unlike vague goal-setting, SMART goals ask you to divide larger goals into bite-sized tasks that bring you closer to meeting your targets.
Can SMART goals and OKRs coexist? All signs point to yes. But first — what are OKRs?
Like SMART goals, OKRs is a goal-setting methodology abbreviated to a few letters. The ‘O’ stands for Objectives, and the ‘KRs’ stands for Key Results. Both frameworks define the goal, are time-bound and require you to break larger goals into smaller objectives, but OKRs also ask, “how do we get there?”. While SMART goals stand independently as quantitative results, OKRs are a multi-step approach incorporating the SMART framework. First, you set a broad objective, then SMART key results and finally, initiatives. Let’s take a closer look.
For more information on how to set OKRs, see our guides below:
But if you’re more of a practical learner, you can sign up for a free trial of Tability, our easy-to-implement OKRs software.