How to create a winning SMART goal

Creating a winning goal is half the journey. A SMART and effective goal not only tells you where you’re going, but why you need to get there.

Make your goal:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Your goal is a guide to help you get the right stuff done, but it also helps your manager and colleagues understand why they should support your efforts.

Step 1: Find the right goal to support

It’s quite possible your manager or a colleague has a goal to which you are already contributing in your day-to-day work, but haven't yet made a goal about. Use BetterWorks search, views, or charts to view existing goals you may already be helping.

  • To search for goals, enter a keyword or person’s name in the search box
  • To view goals for your team, navigate to Goals > Team Goals
  • To see top company goals or view goal alignment, navigate to Charts > Top Company Goals

Step 2: Name your goal effectively

Whether you’re making a new goal or supporting an existing one, your contribution will probably need a name. The name of your goal alone should make you say “I did that” and inspire others to say, “I supported that!”

Consider this goal name:


Even professionals new to goal setting often times start with simple nouns as goal names. But this approach is not SMART. It's unclear what this person will accomplish with this goal. Will the goal owner read a whitepaper? Write one? It’s impossible to know.

How about:

Deliver a whitepaper that explains the benefits of the new features to system administrators

Now it is clearer what the purpose of the goal is, and who should care. Remember this formula:

Powerful verb + Outcome = Effective name

Note: BetterWorks takes care of some facts for you, like a goal's start and end dates. You don’t have to include them in the goal name.

Step 3: Make it matter

A winning goal name will capture the attention of your colleagues. In the Additional Details field, explain the benefits that pursuing and achieving this goal will deliver. Quantify the benefits when possible. 

Consider these questions:

  • Who will benefit from this goal?
  • How much time and/or money will be saved?
  • What will you learn?
  • What will be different if you succeed in this goal?

For example:

“Our new features enable a system administrator to deploy our product in a matter of minutes, rather than days. We will be able to reduce time to value from weeks to a few days. If our current and prospective customers understand the potential of our new feature set, we’ll be able to increase sales and renewals significantly.”

Step 4: Educate and communicate

Many of your most important goals will require the support of others. Provide ongoing updates to stakeholders via check ins. Your check ins and progress will be visible in BetterWorks and in email digests sent to stakeholders.


No knowledge worker is an island. Consider these approaches to collaborative goal development:

  • Decide on your goal areas with your manager or team lead
  • Spend time in team meetings discussing goal design
  • Meet with important collaborators individually to agree on goals
  • Provide short, ongoing updates in standup meetings
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