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Setting objectives

Setting objectives is fundamental to the performance improvement process. Objectives allow managers to define and steer the expectations of a staff member's performance.

A clear set of objectives should be established and used as a reference point for performance reviews and assessing performance levels. Any set objectives must be recorded as part of a member of staff's performance improvement plan.

Objectives can include:

  • Meeting targets
  • Completing ad hoc tasks by specified dates
  • Meeting ongoing standards

SMART framework

Objectives should be set using the specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) framework.


  • Is the objective clear and concise?
  • Does the member of staff understand what needs to be achieved?
  • Does the objective require input from other parties (e.g. clinical educators or training)?


  • What criteria will be used to measure the performance?
  • Is it quantifiable?


  • Can the objectives be achieved in the timescales outlined?


  • Are the objectives relevant to the member of staff’s job role?
  • Are the objectives relevant to the department?


  • Has a time period been defined for the objectives to be achieved by?

SMART objective examples

The table below outlines some examples of good and bad SMART objectives.

SMART objectiveNot a SMART objective
Develop IT skills by attending the 'Basic IT Workshop' on a specific date and feedback learning at the next team meeting Improve IT skills
Complete filing in a timely manner by ensuring letters are added to patients' files within 14 days of receipt Clear backlog of filing

Using clear and concise SMART framework objectives allows managers to assess performance levels and identify further areas of improvement.

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