We’ve heard it before — the moral of the tortoise and the hare is that persistence triumphs over haste. But how often does that happen in real life? If the race were a metaphor for business, what would be the best strategy— setting steady SMART objectives or a more go-for-it approach?
In this guide to SMART objectives, we’ll share some key benefits of employing the SMART framework in your company goal-setting and run you through how it’s done.
Let’s start simple.
Businesses use SMART objectives to set measurable, practical goals and satisfy their overall strategy.
There are two ways to define SMART objectives. One breaks down the acronym SMART into Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Each metric helps guide how you write your business objectives.
The other is quite literal — the SMART acronym is named so for a reason. It’s an effective, clever way to structure your goals.
When writing SMART objectives, it’s essential to make sure you address all five benchmarks. This isn’t a choose-your-own-adventure — the SMART framework relies on total commitment for full impact.
But how do you make sure you’re hitting every target? By understanding what each one means. Here’s a breakdown of the SMART acronym:
SMART objectives should be as clear and direct as possible. Instead of writing ‘Make more money’, try something like ‘Improve monthly sales revenue’.
Your objectives should be measurable, meaning you should outline quantifiable benchmarks when writing your goals. This will also help you track your progress.
This parameter is about capacity. Can you reasonably achieve your objective on time with the resources you have? Be ambitious, but don’t let it get to an overwhelming place.
Your objectives should align with the long-term strategy of the business. Establish how achieving your objectives will help you and your organisation.
Objectives with an end date are more likely to stay on track. Setting a deadline will motivate you and help you prioritise your goals.
It’s true — the SMART framework requires a little more thought than you might expect, but the value that comes from it will far outweigh the time spent writing objectives. SMART objectives are important for three key reasons:
By implementing the SMART framework, you’re creating a shared vision, which is crucial to team success. SMART objectives bring greater alignment by clearly articulating what you need to do and when you should do it.
One goal of SMART objectives is to create a shared vision, and with alignment comes progression. Good SMART objectives encourage teams to stay the course using deadlines, metrics and specificity. Teams that understand how their work fits into company strategy are also more motivated.
Measuring your goals ensures you’ll know exactly when you have reached them. It also means you’ll be able to see your progress along the way. Tracking allows you to evaluate and learn from the goal-setting process — whether you hit your objectives or not.
Looking for a bit of inspiration? Who could blame you — with all the business jargon on this page, even we need an example. Without further ado, we’d like to present you with three SMART objective examples from a range of departments.
SMART goal: Generate 200 qualified leads in June by increasing the frequency and diligence of cold calls.
SMART goal: Increase employee retention rate by 10% this quarter by improving workplace culture.
SMART goal: Boost lead conversion rate by 3% this month by publishing more targeted content.
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and SMART objectives are two separate goal-setting methods — but that doesn’t mean they can’t coexist.
Unlike the one-and-done writing approach of SMART objectives, in the context of OKRs, ‘objectives’ is the first step in a three-part plan. Objectives certainly need to be specific, but it’s not until you get to Key Results that things start looking SMART.
Let’s break it down further.
Set broad goals for the quarter. Keep it simple and avoid quantitative measures. To maintain focus, don't outline more than three objectives per quarter.
Using the SMART framework, outline two or three statements that fit under your objectives and evaluate their success. Any of the above ‘SMART Objectives’ would work here.
This is your roadmap to success. Plot your course to make your Key Results happen. Don’t go overboard — you want to allow room for creativity.
OKRs aren’t set-and-forget, so once you’ve nailed the writing part, look at our guide to tracking OKRs.
More of a kinesthetic learner? Sign up for a free trial of Tability, our simple, user-friendly OKRs software today!
Many experts agree that OKRs check-ins are the most important part of OKRs. Yet, many teams are still using sub-par tool to track progress on their goals. See 10 reasons why you'll love the switch to Tability.
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