A well defined personal objective is crucial to the success of any performance management process, or even just in support of good productivity practices. You’ve probably encountered the term SMART objectives (or SMART goals) in your professional journey. This is a simple framework to help you define better objectives. But have you heard of SMARTER objectives? In this post, we’re going to take a critical look at the SMART vs SMARTER objectives debate. So, let’s dive into the SMARTER and SMART acronym and explore whether SMARTER really adds any value or if it’s simply a catchy “backronym”.
What are S.M.A.R.T Objectives?
Specific | Measurable | Attainable | Relevant | Time-bound
These are the pillars of SMART objectives that many professionals swear by. But now, there’s a buzz around the idea of making it SMARTER. But what does SMARTER mean?
What are S.M.A.R.T.E.R Objectives?
Specific | Measurable | Attainable | Relevant | Time-bound | Evaluate | Reevaluate
(or something like that – the E and the R are a bit open to debate).
SMART vs SMARTER Objectives – Better or Just Window Dressing?
When we think of “SMARTER” objectives, it sounds better, doesn’t it? But is it really more intelligent, or is it a product of one-upmanship? Does the ER in SMARTER genuinely add anything of value, or is it just about selling a “2.0 version”?
Here are the options put forth for the E and R in SMARTER:
- E: Evaluate (Also seen: Ethical, Equality, Excitable, Enjoyable, Engaging, Ecological, Extending)
- R: Reevaluate (Also seen: Rewarded, Rewarding, Reassess, Revisit, Recordable, Reaching)
But hold on a second. Evaluate and Reevaluate? Surely Measurable already covers evaluation, right? And some of these other terms—do they actually serve a practical purpose? It’s like trying to force pieces into a puzzle that doesn’t quite fit. Let’s look at that..
Main option for the E: Evaluate
Surely this is already covered with Measurable in SMART? That should cover what you are measuring, how the measurement is going to be done and what the expected results are.
Other options I’ve seen: Ethical, Equality, Excitable, Enjoyable, Engaging, Ecological and Extending. Are any of these of any real, practical value? ‘Extending’ maybe (if you have chosen to use Specific rather than Stretching for the S) but more on that in a subsequent post.
Main option for the ‘R’: Reevaluate
OK, let me get this straight. Someone thought they could add value to SMART objectives by adding Evaluate and Reevaluate. Doesn’t that strike you as a desperate need to fit an acronym rather than moving the world of performance management forward a step?
Other options I’ve seen: Rewarded, Rewarding, Reassess, Revisit, Recordable, Reaching.
My Final Thoughts
The more I look at SMART vs SMARTER objectives, the more I think that SMARTER is just a ‘backronym’ (by that I mean the acronym came first). I can imagine this thought process “Smarter sounds better than smart, so let’s think of how we can add the ER.”
I’m convinced that the motivation to create SMARTER was driven out of one-upmanship or the drive to create the 2.0 version and “sell it” rather than any practical value add.
Are you an advocate of SMARTER? Do you find the additional ER valuable? – if so, what is your E and R? Or do you believe it’s just an attempt to repackage and sell a concept? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
And if SMART objectives are part of your performance management process, consider using PerformanceHub to manage your performance review process online. It could be the tool you need to make your SMART goals even smarter (or not!).
UCL – sorry, I can’t link as the page no longer exists.