How to get better at Objective Setting

What is an objective?

An objective is a task to be achieved.

Organisations must continually set, and achieve, objectives if they are to deliver the purpose they exist for.

These high level objectives can only be accomplished if they are divided into tasks for specific teams; and in turn, tasks for specific individuals.

The outcome of the whole is a summation of individual activities. There must be clear linkage between organisational and individual objectives.

The benefit of having defined objectives within an organisation is that every individual clearly understands what role they need to perform and what results they need to achieve,

In other words, they know what is required of them, and on what basis their performance will be measured. They know what they have to do to be, safe, secure, involved, valued, and grown in competence over the coming year.

What sort of objectives

one2one meetingAsk yourself why you were hired, what is expected of you. The answer is usually found in a document that various organisations called a Job Description, or Roles and Responsibilities or Permanent Objectives.
Irrespective of the role everybody will be expected to meet organisational standards in the following areas

These are areas in which you could consider setting some objectives for improved personal performance. Not only will you have an easier life, so will the team and organisation that you are part of.

There should also be some operational objectives that will improve the financial performance of the business. They are traditionally found in these areas

There are others that the organisation depends upon for its existence and success. It is essential that objectives are set that maintain or improve relationships in these areas.

The stakeholders, they are traditionally the

As you can see there are many places to look for improved performance. But if the organisation is to use its scarce resources efficiently and effectively specific areas must be identified as priorities. This is usually done by the most senior management in the organisation, and then cascaded down through the business. In this way each individual and team objectives clearly links together to achieve the desired goal.

However there is a need sometimes to be pragmatic. In some organisations messages about the big objectives runs off in the sand! It then falls to individual teams to set relevant objectives for improvements in their area of activity. Bottom up objective setting is better than no objective setting.

So what exactly is we are trying to do?

In considering your objectives, it may help you to bear in mind the SMART checklist. This recommends that objectives should be:


Specific means that an action or behaviour is linked to a rate per period of time, an absolute number, or percentage improvement or reduction; or some other unit of measurement.
For example. If we need to make more sales calls on the phone everyday; that statement is very specific in describing the challenge to be overcome. It does not however quantify the improvement expected. If we say everybody must make 10 in a day, it is then clear what must be done.


Whilst we are now clear what the specific objective is, how will we measure progress against it. What system, or process, is in place that counts the calls made by individuals? Can one be installed, will it automatic or will an individual be required to analysis outputs.
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.


one2one meetingObjectives must be achievable. If there is no chance of success in the mind of the individual they will not even start the journey. Objectives need to be stretching, not easy; the expectation should be no more than a strong likelihood of success. They should be based on a work rate that is reasonable, and a conscientious behaviour.


The objective must always fall within area of activity of the individual or team, and must be something they can change. It also must link back to organisational improvement.
For example. Asking delivery drivers to find the best funding arrangement for their trucks is hardly relevant to their day job or skill set. But asking them to improve their fuel consumption or tyre wear probably is.

Time Based

What is the start, or finish date of this objective? Will there timed interim marker posts during the journey.

Some Rules