What are SMART goals and how do you apply them?

by Danique Geskus | Nov 8, 2023

Setting effective goals is becoming an increasingly important issue for many organizations. But this is not necessarily easy. Some goals are vague and difficult to measure, while others are specific and measurable. SMART goals fall into the latter category and play an essential role in achieving individual, team and organizational goals. In this blog, we will take a closer look at SMART goals, why they matter and how to apply them for success in your organization.


What are SMART Objectives?

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Relevant and Time-bound. We have listed the 5 SMART goals with examples:

  • Specific: goals should be clear and concrete. They should leave no room for interpretation or confusion. A specific goal answers the questions: who, what, where, when and why.

Example: Employee Clara will increase sales in the next six months

by generating 10% in the Northern Netherlands region.

  • Measurable: a SMART goal should have measurable criteria to evaluate its progress and success. This allows you to objectively determine whether the goal has been achieved.

Example: By the end of the quarter, customer satisfaction will be increased

from 75% to 85% based on customer surveys


  • Acceptable: goals must be achievable within available resources and time. They should be ambitious, but not so unrealistic as to become daunting.

Example: The team will increase productivity by reducing the number of bugs in the software by 20%

without hiring additional staff


  • Relevant: goals should be relevant to the organization’s mission and strategy. They must contribute to the bigger picture.

Example: The marketing team will launch a new social media campaign to increase brand awareness,

in line with the company’s strategic growth plans.

  • Time-bound: each goal should have a clear deadline. This helps maintain focus and accountability.


Within six months

the HR department will reduce employee turnover from 15% to 10% by implementing an improved retention policy.


Why are SMART Goals important?

SMART goals offer several advantages:

    • Clarity and Focus: Specific goals provide clarity on what needs to be accomplished and prioritized.
    • Measurable Results: with measurable goals, you can objectively evaluate whether you are on track to achieve your goal.
    • Motivation: SMART goals can be motivating because they promote a sense of accomplishment and progress.
    • Efficiency: they help use time and resources more efficiently by avoiding wasting energy on vague goals.
    • Accountability: SMART goals make accountability easier because the criteria for success are clear.


How do you apply SMART Goals?

Here are the steps to apply SMART goals:

  1. Define specific: be very clear about what you want to achieve and why it is important.
  2. Make measurable: determine how you will measure success, such as using numbers, percentages or other measurable criteria.
  3. Set achievable: ensure that the goal can be achieved within the available resources and time.
  4. Keep it relevant: make sure the goal contributes to the organization’s broader mission and goals.
  5. Define time-bound: set a clear deadline for achieving the goal.

Applying SMART goals in your organization can significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of goals. It is a powerful tool for getting and keeping everyone on the same page in the pursuit of success.


Learned: the partner in implementing SMART goals in your organization

Learned provides advanced functionality to set, track and evaluate SMART goals. Learned allows you to create goals that are specific to individual employees, measurable in terms of progress and success, and fully aligned with your organization’s broader strategic goals. This allows you to set goals that are not only ambitious, but also achievable within available resources and time.

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