What is a SMART Goal? 

Example of a SMART Goal

SMART stands for; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. SMART is a mnemonic/acronym. It is used to set objectives such as employee performance/ management or personal development. An example of a SMART goal is any situation which goes through a process of clarifying ideas, focusing efforts, using time and resources productively, and ultimately increasing chances of success. 

What does SMART mean?

Specific: Clearly defined goals. Knowing exactly what, how and when is expected from them, makes it easy for the employee to understand what is expected and for managers to measure progress. 

Measurable: Provide milestones. With a clear plan of achievements, it is possible to track progress and keep employees motivated and focused. 

Attainable: Achievable targets. It is essential for motivation and focus that targets are not too high or too low. 

Relevant: In line with the organisation and department. Of course, in order to feel part of the organisation employee must feel they are contributing to the overall company strategy.  

Time bound: Create deadlines. Without time structures it is difficult to measure and monitor performance.

Examples of a SMART Goal

Let’s consider some real examples of how SMART can be applied to goal setting:

1. An online bookstore wants to increase positive customer reviews by 30%, this financial year

So, simply put, the number of customer reviews for this company must be 30% more than the previous year.

Specific: the percentage set (30%), is very specific

Measurable: there needs to be a system for monitoring this percentage to see if the target is being reached or not.

Attainable: based on the previous years performance, this company has calculated that 30% is an attainable percentage increase. 

Relevant: this company is fuelled by positive customer reviews, to increase its growth. This goal is therefore entirely relevant. 

Time-bound – The financial year, provides a clear time-scale. 

2. Grow market share by 15% by the end of the year. 

This mobile phone sales company wants to increase their share of the market by 15%. 

Specific: 15% is specific. They also add to this, the geographical areas they wish to target and particular products to promote.

Measurable: Using internal systems they can monitor and report on a monthly basis. 

Attainable: what are your employees abilities? It this timescale/ goal achievable?

Relevant: feeds directly into company success and growth

Time-bound: the specific end date provides a clear target, time wise. 

3. Increase search engine traffic by 10% in the next quarter.

An online personal finance company, helping young people make good choices with their money, looking to increase visibility of their website by 10% in 3 months. 

Specific: 10% in 3 months is a specific goal

Measurable: the company are able to track search engine traffic and record hits to their website.

Attainable: the team have assessed the goal and it is realistic if everyone works together to achieve it. 

Relevant: search engine traffic is a huge marketing tool for this company and brings in many new customers.

Time-bound: 3 months is a clear time frame. 


Knowing and understanding the style of performance setting and leadership that suits you, your team and your organisation can be a process of trial and error. Having an awareness of how to set goals for high performance can transform your leadership skills, improve communication skills, promote effective team dynamics and achieve high performance. 

Engage in Learning’s Leadership Pathway courses introduces learners to styles and approaches to leadership. They will assist with identifying strengths and weaknesses and show how teams can work together to achieve the best outcomes. 

Our online Leadership Pathways courses can be found here