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Leadership Skills #6 - SMART objectives

Part 6/10

SMART objectives

So why do we need SMART objectives?

Encouraging team members to participate in the goal setting process is a great way to obtain their commitment. They feel more capable of achieving goals that they have helped to identify. However, identifying the goal is just the first step - you need to be more specific to enable action.

As a leader, your vision motivates and inspires your team to strive to reach a desired destination. Team goals set the general direction in which you must travel to reach that destination. However, the objectives set by the team map the route to success.

Objectives are based on what has been discussed and agreed upon by the tea during the goal setting process. It is your responsibility as the leaser and facilitator to extract pertinent information and to formulate those objectives. For maximum effectiveness, your objectives need to be "S.M.A.R.T"

First, your objective has to be specific. It should specify the WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHY so that your team can decide on HOW.

Without this level of definition, it is too easy to create an objective that is so ambiguous that you don't know for certain tat it has been accomplished.


"all members of the sales team must increase sales by 10% in the month of July"


"sales must increase"

Second, your objectives must be measurable. Not all objectives are measurable by extend or quantity, but it should at least be possible to say for sure if the objective has been achieved. If you cant measure success by how much or how many, you must be able to describe how success will be recognised.

Third, the objectives must be achievable. It is also vital that an objectives achievability is within your control and that you have access to the necessary resources. You must also consider all of the possible barriers to success, and whether they can be overcome. In other words, you must be realistic and use previous performance as a basis for projected results. Although setting easily achievable objectives can lead to apathy and disinterest, it is even more demoralising to be set objectives that are way out of reach.


If your team has never achieved more than a 10% sales increase from quarter to quarter, it would be unrealistic to expect it to achieve a 20% next quarter - particularly during an economic downturn for example.

Forth, the objectives must be relevant. Your objectives should be directly relevant to your overall goal. It is essential that its achievement moves you closer to making your vision of the future a reality. If your goal is to greatly increase productivity, is an objective to save money on pens relevant?

Finally, your objectives must be time-specific. An effective objective must involve a time frame or limit so that the individual tasks required to fulfill it can be planned and scheduled. Without some kind of deadline, action - and therefore achievement - will often be deferred indefinitely.

If you do not meet the objective by the time frame specified, the objective should be considered as a failure. It is important to recognised that the objective has failed, as it indicates that you need to review the objective completely and decide on one that is more achievable. You should not just keep extending the time frame as this will not help a fundamentally flawed objective.

If your objectives meet these SMART criteria, it will be easier to plan how to achieve them, and thereby change vague hoped and dreams into a concrete strategy. SMART objectives support the achievement of your goals because they enable evaluation of your progress. They also give a sense of urgency to your plans.

Your chances of meeting your objectives are increased significantly when they are SMART. When every member of your team is aiming for the same well defined target, the bulls eye is more likely to be hit.

have you read the assignment technique module?

    Using what you have learned, produce a SMART objective for increasing your teas sales productivity. You might want to choose another objective based on your particular background if sales is not something you are used to.