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What Are SMART Objectives?

SMART is an acronym for the five components of an effective goal. An effective goal should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Result-focused
  • Time-oriented

Tell Me More

The inherent advice contained in SMART—that an objective be specific, measurable, attainable, result-focused, and time-oriented—is certainly good advice. Keep in mind, however, that all SMART offers is a test. Once an objective has been written down on paper, it is a test to tell whether it has been structured properly. It gives you no information at all about whether a goal is important or worth setting.

Red Flag

Consider an objective that states: ‘‘Reduce salary costs by terminating 10 percent of all employees over age forty by June 1, 2003.’’ It certainly seems to meet the SMART test. But is it smart? Is it wise to lay these people off? Will the company’s reputation and ability to compete effectively be enhanced by dumping the most experienced 10 percent of the staff? SMART doesn’t give you a clue—the objective as it’s written meets all the SMART tests. But it’s likely that the person who wrote that foolish SMART objective will receive a neck-snappingly rapid legal education.