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.
What are SMART goals and objectives?
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.
What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for?
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.
S-SPECIFICDwelling deeper into details is a good start. It is the beginning of everything, so put more attention and great effort into taking care of the minutest details.
The important thing is to resolve issues surrounding what, when, where, who, with what, and how. I have jokingly named this the 5 Wives and 1 Husband technique to remember the Ws and HS.
The more information you can contribute, the better the results will be, and it will be easier to reach your goals since defining the path to achieving them will be clearer.
Suppose you are heading an organization or are in a position where you are making strategic decisions for your organization or similar positions from this point onwards. In that case, you will see if you have enough resources to achieve your SMART goal or need to do something extra to make things fruitful.
M-MEASURABLEFor a SMART goal to be objective clearly, you must have a quantitative way of measuring that you have effectively achieved it. For this, it is necessary to involve some numbers in the definition, for example, percentages or exact amounts. If your measurable goals are to get an R.O.I., then you should say something like “Increase the R.O.I. by 23%”.
It is not enough to say, “Increase the number of clients.” It is best to analyze the clients you have now, those you need to get, and the total number of clients to be achieved in a certain period of time, which is also important to define clearly.
The more quantitative data you have, the more control you can have over the advances.
A-ACHIEVABLEDid you know that many objectives are not met because they seem impossible? Many others remain in the air because they are a little presumptuous.
It is advisable to know that there will be difficult tasks and that you have no choice but to achieve them. We all want to be the first to achieve something, and that feeling can be a motivator for some people. However, setting virtually impossible goals can make the team frustrated.
So to avoid negations and to make an objective achievable, you need a prior analysis of what you have done and achieved so far. It will help you know and understand the leap you want to take or a step back and analyze what you have missed.
R-RELEVANTTo define relevant and realistic SMART goals, you must measure the scope of your potential and those associated with you in your organization or business. One important aspect of setting up relevant goals is knowing if you have the right resources to achieve them.
In addition, removing the beliefs that commonly adversely affect is essential here, such as “I cannot.” It may be easier to create a realistic and attainable goal. Relevant goals can only be achieved if you have everything in place, from the ideation stage to knowing the resources that will help you achieve these goals.
Remember that unreachable goals should not be thrown overboard. Making new strategies and staying persistent to achieve these goals is essential. It will send out a positive message amongst employees and befitting replies to your competitors who doubt your abilities to succeed.
T-TIME-BASEDIt is one of the most important factors determining whether an objective is met. You need to set start and end times to achieve the objective.
You need to schedule and put time-bound into the objective. It will help you to know if what you are doing is optimal to reach the goal in time or if it could be better if you give a little more speed.
Why should you clearly define SMART goals and Objectives?
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.
Management by Objectives (MBO)
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 goalsThese include tasks or projects that span years, like research projects. SMART objectives and goals are set periodically to track progress and map the deficit to the completion of the project.
Intermediate-term goalsThese goals usually stretch out for a quarter or a few months. SMART objectives and goals help set up a milestone-based approach where efficiency helps reduce the time to completion.
Short term goalsShort-term goals are based on small work that can take days and even hours. This goal setting is important to avoid all distractions and meet deadlines.
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:
ClarityThere has to be absolute clarity between the objective and SMART goal-setting process and the end objective so that ambiguity doesn’t hamper task-based or milestone work.
ChallengeIf the objectives become repetitive or aren’t stimulating enough, boredom sets in. The SMART objectives need to be challenging enough to avoid this.
CommitmentThis goes without saying that lack of commitment is a recipe for disaster as it derails goal and objective management.
FeedbackPeriodic feedback is a prerequisite for effective management of objectives and goals. People operating without feedback do not know if their efforts are correctly moving the project toward completion and can get easily disoriented and disinterested.
Task complexityComplex tasks take precedence over menial tasks because the people doing them aren’t motivated to work on something that is below their intellectual capability. Hence it is important to find the right blend into objectives and goals where the tasks are complex enough to complete but stimulate the brain of the person completing the task.
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.
- 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 objectiveGoals and objectives provide an end objective. Setting objectives gives all relevant stakeholders an idea of the amount of work to put in and the outcome of this effort. There is no ambiguity in the respective role of a person and the value a person adds to the team.
Effective time managementWhen the end goal or objective is known well in advance, it is easier and more efficient to work. This also reduces the waste of resources and helps manage work smarter in case of replication of personnel.
Reminds you of prioritiesSMART objectives help in constantly being aware of the work for the upcoming milestone. Goals help in being aware of the end goal to be achieved in the project.
Obliges to take actionDue to the nature of the periodic check model of SMART objectives and goals, it obliges the person carrying out the tasks to work and meet the milestones.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.