Get Inspired by 35 Examples of SMART Goals for Employees
New and eager employees often find themselves without direction and use their time inefficiently without a path and goal.
Should we even discuss why this isn't good for anyone?
One of the most important contributions of People Operations is helping employees succeed by guiding them with clear, actionable objectives.
SMART goals seek to solve problems of clarity and confusion by identifying key factors when setting effective goals for individuals, teams, or even company-wide.
SMART is an acronym describing five aspects you should consider when setting organizational goals.
By following these guidelines, management can present employees with more actionable goals and guidelines for achieving them.
The SMART framework gives employees the direction they need to succeed and improves efficiency for the entire company.
But setting SMART goals might isn't always a walk in the park.
So, we want to help by providing 35 examples of SMART goals for employees in various roles and seniority levels.
🎯 What are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym created by George T. Doran to help write meaningful objectives at the corporate, departmental, and individual levels. Doran says that ideally, every goal should be:
Some of these terms are more ambiguous than others, so let's break down each.
Doran defined Specific as "target[ing] a specific area for improvement."
In other words, avoid vague objectives like "boost sales" that are difficult to isolate and strategize for. Instead, give specific goals like "increase sales of Product X by 5% next quarter through social media marketing." We will use this same example to highlight other aspects of SMART goals.
Doran described measurable as "quantify[ing] or at least suggest[ing] an indicator of progress."
In the example above, "boosting sales" is technically measurable but vague.
Would an increase in sales of 1% or 0.1% over the next year satisfy management?
Giving real target numbers like "increasing sales of Product X by 5%" is much easier to strategize for and measure success.
Assignable is pretty straightforward. It simply means to be clear about who has to meet what objective.
In the above example, "social media marketing" is specified. This indicates that the marketing/social media department should be spearheading this objective. You could get even more specific by spelling out which departments or individuals should be involved to make things crystal clear.
Vague objectives like "boost sales" can be ambiguous, which could lead to situations where no one takes the initiative because they assume others will.
Attainable goals are vital if you want to see actual results.
Consider that the above example asked for sales to be doubled rather than increased by 5%.
Whoever set that goal might be unaware of what is realistically possible given the available resources, asking for a miracle.
The employees tasked with that objective will not feel motivated to pursue an impossible goal they won't be able to achieve.
Objectives should have a time-frame whenever possible.
Asking employees to "increase sales by 5%" is too vague.
Is that a good goal if it takes employees five years to achieve?
Specifying a deadline like "increase sales by 5% next quarter" provides a time-frame to achieve that objective successfully.
Having a clear timeline also allows employees and management to measure their progress and track their performance so they can adjust their strategy as needed.
These five concepts embody SMART goals and can help you set more effective, inspiring objectives.
🆚 What is the difference between SMART goals and OKRs?
Andy Grove is credited with the idea of OKRs from his time as CEO of Intel. OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results. While they share some similarities with SMART goals, the essence of each concept is notably different.
Essentially, SMART goals expanded on OKRs. As such, OKRs share the first two elements of SMART goals: Specificity and Measurability.
OKRs ask the question, "What is the goal (Objective), and how do we measure success (Key Results)?
Like SMART goals, OKRs seek to provide role clarity and a quantifiable way to measure progress toward that goal.
However, OKRs lack the assignability, realism, and time factors of SMART goals.
Tip: So, if you are currently using OKRs in your organization, consider expanding with the additional elements of SMART goals for more thorough objectives with additional benefits.
🏆 10 Benefits of setting smart goals in your organization
Adopting the SMART goals framework offers many benefits. Below are ten advantages for employees and companies alike.
Role clarity and focus
The specificity and assignability of SMART goals clearly define who should be doing what.
A few things can bog down progress, like unclear roles and expectations, which SMART goals seek to rectify.
With clear responsibilities and expectations, employees can better focus on their goals.
Since SMART goals are measurable and include a time factor, it is effortless to track progress and keep employees on track.
Even if you aren't actively tracking their progress, SMART goals equip employees with the ability to measure their progress and make adjustments to reach milestones in the allotted time frame.
Since SMART goals are realistic, an employee's ability to succeed is directly related to performance. With specific goals assigned to each relevant employee within a given timeframe, achieving those objectives promotes a high-performance culture.
Many employees thrive with deadlines and realistic goals. Without these things, it is easy to fall into a rut and feel like you aren't growing or improving in your professional role. Providing well-rounded and specific SMART goals will enhance employee motivation thanks to clear and achievable objectives.
SMART goals give employees a straightforward way to contribute to the company and test their skills.
With specific, measurable sub-tasks and a set timeframe, it is easy to measure one's professional development.
Plus, the success of relevant goals will highlight strengths and areas that need improvement.
➡️ Check out six employee development plan examples and see how they relate to SMART goals.
💡 And if you're ready to start using development plans within your workforce, check out our free template.
Promote a culture of continuous learning and professional growth
SMART goals encourage a culture of learning for employees and management.
SMART goals can provide a lot of data and insight into employee abilities. Plus, the measurable aspect allows you to track the speed and skill of an employee, which can be helpful for future reviews or suggesting additional training.
Better onboarding experiences
There are more applications for the SMART goal-setting framework than company-wide objectives or departmental improvements.
The same ideas can be applied to other HR functions, like onboarding, to improve the employee experience.
Using SMART goals ensures new hires have clear and achievable goals to work toward.
SMART goals can help with talent retention in several ways:
- Clear and measurable goals will give employees clear direction and focus.
- Measurable tasks will help top performers feel accomplished for their hard work.
- Realistic, assignable goals ensure a fair distribution of work. This will prevent burnout or feelings of favoritism.
All in all, SMART goals promote a level playing field and objective results that reflect the talent and hard work.
➡️ Read our 25 employee retention best practices for more tips on retaining top talent.
Improved feedback system
Integrating the results of SMART goals into your feedback system allows you to give objective, meaningful employee reviews easily.
Use the measurable data to track employee performance, among other elements.
For example, if an employee struggles to meet their SMART goals or conquer them with vigor, include that in employee feedback.
Bringing the focus on the employee experience
A big part of SMART goals is fairness and clarity.
Vague goals that aren't specific, assignable, or realistic can harm morale and employee satisfaction.
Making sure company objectives contain all of the SMART elements ensures employees have everything they need to succeed in their roles with minimal stress or confusion.
💡 9 Tips for setting effective SMART goals
In addition to the guidelines set forth by the SMART acronym, here are nine additional tips to ensure you are setting effective SMART goals.
Use simple language
In addition to specificity, simplicity is important. Try to keep objectives short with simple, straightforward language. The easier your SMART goals are to understand, the better chance your employees will have to remember and achieve them.
Break goals into sub-tasks
Keeping complex goals specific and straightforward can be a challenge.
It is often better to turn a single, overarching objective into a series of more digestible sub-goals. These bite-sized objectives will be more specific and assignable than an expansive objective.
Include objectives and key results (OKRs)
While we have discussed the differences between SMART goals and OKRs, both are useful for creating company objectives.
Tip: Especially if you are transitioning from OKRs to SMART goals, it may be helpful to start by crafting OKRs, then expanding into the SMART goals framework.
Some of your employees and departments may be more familiar with OKRs and benefit from receiving both.
Define success metrics
You can further clarify the measurable aspect of SMART goals by defining success metrics.
While in some cases, objectives are easily quantifiable and measurable, such as increasing conversions by 5%.
However, other goals can be more subjective, like improving interdepartmental communications.
In such cases, it is essential to define the success metrics, such as fewer missed deadlines.
Consider training opportunities
Developing SMART goals may make training deficiencies or opportunities apparent.
Tip #1: Be open-minded about what training is needed to help employees meet SMART goals or which aspects of the objective create new training opportunities to strengthen the company.
Tip #2: Consider running a training needs assessment survey to collect employee insights.
Enlist coaches, buddies, and mentors
While the point of SMART goals is to create more achievable, successful objectives, sometimes a little help is beneficial, especially for new employees.
Mentorship programs can be of use in such cases.
A coworker with more experience involving SMART goals and OKRs can be instrumental in getting junior employees up to speed.
Set a schedule
The last aspect of SMART goals is a realistic time frame. While giving a deadline is one way to accomplish this, sometimes your people need a more detailed schedule.
Tip: Setting a schedule with target dates for different milestones can help the assigned parties stay on track to achieve the overall objective.
Tracking progress with SMART goals is easy, thanks to the measurable and time-related elements.
Tip: Break down sub-tasks or milestones to allow easy progress calculation.
Adjust goals based on feedback
While SMART goals give an organization a structured framework for setting effective objectives, they need not be inflexible or limiting.
Tip: Encourage employee input about any of the five elements of the acronym and adjust them as needed. You can discuss these during one-on-one meetings.
🖥️ 5 Examples of SMART goals for IT employees
- Migrate all internal email accounts from Microsoft Outlook to the Google platform by the end of the year.
- Install new estimation software on all computers in the Sales department by the end of the quarter.
- Upgrade the printers in department X to the new model. You should manage a minimum of 5 per week until all are upgraded.
- Create a folder on the shared server for each new employee within their first week.
- Improve website page loading speeds by 20% through new hosting options and consolidated files in a month.
💸 5 Examples of SMART goals for finance employees
- Send a notice to all overdue accounts by the end of the month.
- Audit all archived accounts over seven years old by the end of the year to determine if we need to keep those records.
- Draft payroll checks one day early this week due to the holiday.
- Calculate our year-over-year growth from the last three years in time for the board meeting this afternoon.
- Send a copy of the check from Client X to the bank by the end of the day.
📈 5 Examples of SMART goals for marketing employees
- Improve organic traffic to the main website by 10% in the next five weeks.
- Find the most efficient way to cut the social media budget by 25% before the next contract.
- Increase conversions on Product X by 50% during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Grow the email list by 100 new customers during the holiday season.
- Determine the best social media platform to build a presence on before the company launches.
🤹 5 SMART goals examples for project managers
- Decide on the best replacement for Employee X by the end of the week and start training them.
- Calculate customer satisfaction rates for Team X before the end of the year.
- Estimate the time to complete Project X if you can spare two employees from Team Y for the rest of the month.
- Increase production by 15% before the contract with Client X is up for renewal.
- Reduce the size of Team X by two before winter.
🖍️ 5 SMART goals examples for graphic designers
- Finalize the design for Client X by tomorrow morning so we can submit it for review.
- Come up with three logo concepts for Client Y and print them by next week.
- Choose the best font for the brochure cover before we go to the printer on Tuesday.
- Add watermarks to all demo images before sending them to the client.
- Become proficient in Software X by the end of the year when we switch to that program.
👨💼 5 Examples of smart goals for new employees
- Fill out and sign the documents in your new employee handbook and deliver them to HR before the 30-day mark.
- Rate the following categories on a scale of 1-10 as they relate to your onboarding experience with the company.
- Come up with 1-month, 3-month, and 6-month goals you would like to work toward by your first employee review session.
- Introduce yourself to each of your coworkers through company chat before the first company outing next month.
- Finish setting up your email account and company login by the end of your first week.
👩💼 5 SMART goals examples for senior employees
- Train the new salesman so he can autonomously place an order from Supplier X by next quarter.
- Coach the new hires, so they understand how to give 360-degree feedback during the next review period.
- Update the employee manual with new protocols between each safety meeting.
- Mentor your assistant in your critical job duties before you leave on vacation.
- Document your daily tasks and industry knowledge to form a training document for your replacement 30 days after resigning.
➡️ Learn more with 10 SMART goals for team leaders and managers.
➡️ Are you looking for skill-based performance goals? We got you covered in our guide on employee performance goals.
🙌 How you can help your employees reach their SMART professional goals: 7 Tips
Part of the purpose of SMART goals is to provide clear and achievable objectives. However, there are some things you can do as part of people operations to assist your employees further.
1. Document the goals
Documenting SMART goals is helpful for both management and employees with assigned tasks. Plus, having a record of goals will help with progress tracking.
Tip #1: Documenting results is helpful for performance reviews and helping employees reflect on their personal goals.
Tip #2: Documenting SMART goals and making them accessible to employees allows them to check on their assigned tasks whenever necessary.
2. Align the entire team
Specific goals and assignments should align the company to an extent, but you can go beyond that.
It is helpful if team members can see who is responsible for which objectives so they can communicate and work together when sensible.
3. Encourage goal sharing across teams
SMART objectives, professional development goals, and individual development plans shouldn't be kept private.
Tip: Publicly posting company and individual goals lets anyone see what others are working toward, encouraging cooperation and sharing ideas.
4. Make goals easily accessible
As with documentation, making SMART goals and other business objectives centrally available allows everyone to track progress, see who is working on what, and understand the big picture.
You can make goals more easily accessible through a learning management system, shared spreadsheets, or similar methods.
5. Regular check-in meetings
Use regular check-in meetings to assess progress and address challenges.
Two heads are better than one. Discussing successes and struggles in one-on-one meetings can shed light on new ideas and facilitate better cohesion among teams and company-wide.
You can also use employee development software to track and identify new personal development goals.
6. 360 reviews
360-degree reviews provide feedback from multiple perspectives.
Inputs from various perspectives can strengthen teamwork and motivate employees to succeed with their SMART goals.
360 feedback software makes it easy to manage feedback from multiple employees, with an option to do so anonymously.
Tip #1: For better results with 360 reviews, train managers and employees to provide constructive feedback and share actionable insights in a standardized way.
Tip #2: Sharing examples of constructive feedback will help employees understand the difference between negative feedback and constructive criticism so they can provide quality, actionable insight.
➡️ For more inspiration about giving actionable feedback, check out 30 examples of constructive feedback for specific skills and behaviors scenarios.
➡️ Create a high-performance culture with Zavvy
SMART goals are just one way to encourage a performance-oriented workplace culture.
As an HR professional, your people's individual and team goals can be solid motivators or morale killers.
Employee development software can allow management and employees to track their advancement and identify new growth opportunities.
Plus, with 360-degree feedback software, you can easily gather and analyze feedback from multiple directions.
You can schedule a demo of these great tools to see how Zavvy can help make your employees and company more efficient and SMART!