Who’s afraid of SMART objectives? You don’t need to be

SMART objectives

I’ve never been a big fan of SMART objectives. I accept there is wisdom in the acronym, but I think the process tends to eclipse the most important things about performance objectives: they should provide clarity, challenge and motivation, and when delivered they should add value to the organisation.

I made this point in a previous podcast (The secrets of accelerated learning: what’s your objective? with Krystyna Gadd) and was contacted by Garry Platt who disagreed with some of what I said and wanted to mount a defence of SMART.

So that’s what this is … an extra podcast challenging some of the content of the previous one, with a screeching parrot in the background.

Here’s a link to Garry’s SMART objective descriptions.

Here’s a post I wrote a while ago on this topic: SMART objectives can be really DUMB.

Here is a link to Garry’s podcast on an alternative to SMART objectives for circumstances that don’t fit well with SMART.

 Garry Platt


Garry Platt is an experienced training consultant with more than 30 years experience in the business. He has worked with a number of international organisations helping them to enhance their approach to training and development … read more about Garry here.

An alternative to SMART objectives for behavioural stuff that’s hard to measure

It is a rare performance management training course that doesn’t include the ubiquitous SMART acronym within it – and it is a rare organisation that doesn’t demand its people create a yearly clutch of SMART objectives to meet the needs of their performance management process.

And that’s the problem.

SMART objectives are often written to meet the needs of the process – not the people – they are written to fulfill the requirements of the clever acronym, but not actually to respond to the particular challenges of the individual job holder and their manager.

This is a long-running bugbear of mine, and it was good to hear that one of this podcast’s great supporters and contributors, Garry Platt, had encountered exactly that problem during his consultancy work.

As good as they sometimes are, often it’s just very difficult to write SMART objectives: it’s not only hard to articulate the specific behaviour, it’s next to impossible to create an appropriate measure that doesn’t just tot up something numeric that’s vaguely related (but not very important).

However, we’re made of strong stuff on the Trainer Tools podcast, and just because something is difficult is no reason not to do it! So in this episode Garry talks me through his approach to what he calls behavioural objectives.

Trying to SMARTify your objectives need never ruin your life again!

Garry has also blogged about this on LinkedIn.

 Garry Platt


Garry Platt is an experienced training consultant with more than 30 years experience in the business. He has worked with a number of international organisations helping them to enhance their approach to training and development … read more about Garry here.

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