The S.M.A.R.T. way to develop great objectives for you and your team

A methodology to help crystalize objectives, and why it matters

Defining, aligning, and writing objectives can be daunting. Often, company objectives (sometimes referred to as goals, but in a business context, we call them objectives) are general — e.g. “gain more customers”. While they inform team objectives and desired results, people often struggle with exactly what information to include.

Clear objectives are specific; they include a set timeframe, they’re measurable, and they have a direct impact on your organization.

A lot of organizations use the S.M.A.R.T. criteria and goal setting method to define and measure objectives. Many of us here at Range use it, and we thought it would be helpful to share the method and provide clear examples to help you overcome vagueness in your company communication.

What are objectives?

“An objective is what we want to do” is how a former colleague simply put it. And that definition often matches company-level objectives. But supporting objectives need to be more defined.

So it’s often helpful to think of them as two categories of objectives.

For example, you might use company objectives in your yearly and quarterly company strategy, your positioning, mission statement, company culture guide, financial projections, and other crucial business documents and initiatives. The right goals will align with your company vision, purpose, and long-term aspirations. A few examples:

While these are worthy objectives, there are no specific timeframes or actions that guide you on how to reach your destination. What defines an “inclusive company culture?” What are the particular tasks you need to complete? How would you know you’ve reached the goal?

A company-level objective describes where your company wants to be in the future, but unlike team objectives, it doesn’t explain how you plan to get there.

Goals vs objectives differences

To make them actionable, team objectives need to be broken down into objectives and key results. Here’s how you can break down an example company-level objective into measurable objectives:

Difference between goals and objectives diagram

Company objective: Increase international customer base

The S.M.A.R.T. approach

Objective has the word “object” in it. Objects are concrete. Because of this, objectives can be scoped with timeframes, budgets, and tangible results. The S.M.A.R.T. approach to developing objectives is a useful framework to help you make sure you’ve defined them in the right way.

The acronym stands for:

How to align your objectives in practice

We (surprise!) use Range here at Range to define, align, track, and report on our objectives.

We set them by quarter, review them in weekly meetings, and log work with quick daily check-ins, so everyone has insight into how projects are progressing. It works with tools like Slack, Asana, Trello, GitHub, and more, so it’s easy to connect our tasks, documents, and code changes with our objectives.

Combined with the S.M.A.R.T. approach, this level of transparency and collaboration helps the teams crystalize not just what matters, but how to get there.

Start your free trial and begin crafting meaningful objectives at every level.

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