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Objective setting

Objectives are statements of what you will achieve and by when. Having a
small number of specific objectives moving you towards your overall aim
provides targets or milestones to encourage you and to provide a measure of
your success.
Use SMAR objectives
• Specific!
• Measurable!
• Achievable "but challenging and worthwhile#!
• Relevant "to your aims and career aspirations#!
• ime based "with review dates and milestones as necessary#.
An objective describes the outcome$ what you want to develop$ rather than
the means you will use to achieve that objective.
A goal is an end that the organi%ation strives to attain. However$ the
supervisor cannot &do& a goal. Supervisors brea' down processes$ analyse
them$ set objectives and then drive hard to achieve them. (oing the same
thing and e)pecting different results doesn*t wor'. he supervisor must write
an objective for what he or she is trying to accomplish. hus$ an objective is
the object or aim of an action. +t implies an e)plicit direction for the action to
ta'e and a specific ,uality of wor' to be accomplished within a given period of
time. Objectives reflect the desired outcomes for individuals$ groups and
organi%ations. hey provide direction for decision-ma'ing and a criterion
against which outcomes are measured. hus$ objectives are the foundation of
An effective planning tool to help the supervisor set objectives is Management
by Objectives "MBO#. M.O gained recognition in /012 with the publication of
3eter (ruc'er*s boo' The Practice of Management. M.O is a collaborative
process whereby the manager and each subordinate jointly determine
objectives for that subordinate. o be successful M.O programs should
include commitment and participation in the M.O process at all levels$ from
top management to the lowest position in the organi%ation.
M.O begins when the supervisor e)plains the goals for the department in a
meeting. he subordinate ta'es the goals and proposes objectives for his or
her particular job. he supervisor meets with the subordinate to approve and$
if necessary$ modify the individual objectives. Modification of the individual*s
objectives is accomplished through negotiation since the supervisor has
resources to help the subordinate commit to the achievement of the objective.
hus$ a set of verifiable objectives for each individual are jointly determined$
prioriti%ed$ and formali%ed.
he supervisor and the subordinate meet periodically to review the latter*s
progress. 4ommunication is the 'ey factor in determining M.O*s success or
failure. he supervisor gives feedbac' and may authori%e modifications to the
objectives or their timetables as circumstances dictate. 5inally$ the employee*s
performance is measured against his or her objectives$ and he or she is
rewarded accordingly.
Steps in M.O 3rocess
Research has demonstrated that when top management is committed and
personally involved in implementing M.O programs$ they significantly improve
performance. his finding is not surprising when one considers that during the
M.O process employees determine what they will accomplish. After all$ who
'nows what a person is capable of doing better than the person does him or
Objectives are the driver of planning processes. +t is imperative that top
managers safeguard the intention of their goals to facilitate middle and lower
management*s effective translation and implementation of them. Objectives
guide managerial activities such as budgeting$ the development of action
plans$ staffing$ and the purchasing of e,uipment. he organi%ation*s success
ultimately depends on the combined outcomes of its objectives.
Most supervisors set objectives$ but not with e,ual s'ill. 5ew$ who
do not correctly write objectives$ will reap M.O*s full benefits. An
objective is simply a statement of what is to done and should be
stated in terms of results. A mnemonic aid to write objectives is
SMART "Specific$ Measurable$ Attainable$ Result-oriented$ Time-limited#.
An objective must be specific with a single 'ey result. +f more than one result
is to be accomplished$ more than one objective should be written. 7ust
'nowing what is to be accomplished is a big step toward achieving it.
8hat is important to you6 Once you clarify what you want to achieve$ your
attention will be focused on the objective that you deliberately set. 9ou will be
doing something important to you.
An objective must be measurable. Only an objective that affects behavior in a
measurable way can be optimally effective. +f possible$ state the objective as
a ,uantity. Some objectives are more difficult to measure than others are.
However$ difficulty does not mean that they cannot be measured. reatment
of salespeople might be measured by loo'ing at the absenteeism and
turnover rates among the sales force. Also$ salespeople could be as'ed to fill
out a behavioral ,uestionnaire anonymously giving their observations of the
supervision they receive. 4ustomer service could be measured by such
indices as the number of complaints received$ by the number of customers
lost$ and by customer interviews or responses to ,uestionnaires.
(evelopment of subordinates could be measured by determining the number
of tas's the subordinate has mastered. 4ooperation with other functions could
be measured by length of delay in providing re,uested information$ or by peer
ratings of degree of cooperation.
Avoid statements of objectives in generalities. +nfinitives to avoid include to
'now$ to understand$ to enjoy$ and to believe. Action verbs are observable
and better communicate the intent of what is to be attempted. hey include to
write$ to apply$ to recite$ to revise$ to contrast$ to install$ to select$ to assemble$
to compare$ to investigate$ and to develop.
How will you 'now you*ve progressed6
An objective must be attainable with the resources that are available. +t must
be realistic. Many objectives are realistic. 9et$ the time it ta'es to achieve
them may be unrealistic. 5or e)ample$ it is realistic to want to lose ten
pounds. However$ it is unrealistic to want to lose ten pounds in one wee'.
8hat barriers stand between you and your objective6 How will each barrier be
overcome and within what time frame6
he objective should be central to the goals of the organi%ation. he
successful completion of the objective should ma'e a difference.
How will this objective help the organi%ation move ahead6 +s the objective
aligned with the mission of the organi%ation6
he objective should be traceable. Specific objectives enable time priorities to
be set and time to be used on objectives that really matter.
Are the time lines you have established realistic6 8ill other competing
demands cause delay6 8ill you be able to overcome those demands to
accomplish the objective you*ve set in the time frame you*ve established6
Write Meaningful Objectives
Although the rules are difficult to establish$ the following may be useful when
writing an objective.
/. Start with an action or accomplishment verb. "Use the infinitive form of the
verb. his means to start the with &to.&#
:. +dentify a single 'ey result for each objective.
;. <ive the date of the estimated completion.
2. .e sure the objective is one you can control.
1. o test for validity of SMART objectives$ as' yourself the following
= S > ?)actly what is my objective6
= M > 8hat would a good job loo' li'e6
= A > +s my objective feasible6
= R > +s my objective meaningful6
= T > +s my objective traceable6
Smart Objectives
By Garry Platt, Senior Consultant at Woodland Grange
Most of the managers I have ever spoken to know what the acronym SM!" means in relation to setting o#$ectives%
But e&ually, very few of them can actually write good o#$ectives which comply with all the criteria% I think this is
#ecause the definitions of SM!" are actually &uite vague when you start to e'plore them% Clarifying what SM!"
means in precise terms really helps managers understand and produce good effective o#$ectives% So here it is, the
definition of SM!"%
Specific in the conte't of developing o#$ectives means that an o#serva#le action, #ehaviour or achievement is
descri#ed which is also linked to a rate, num#er, percentage or fre&uency% "his latter point is e'tremely important (
let me illustrate% )nswer the phone &uickly) can #e said to #e a precise description of #ehaviour, you can clearly see
whether someone answers the phone or not, #ut there is no rate, num#er, percentage or fre&uency linked to it% So,
if I state* )nswer the phone within + rings) a rate has #een added and the #ehaviour is now much more specific%
Summary: Is there a description of a precise or specific #ehaviour , outcome which is linked to a rate, num#er,
percentage or fre&uency-
"his is very simple% system, method or procedure has to e'ist which allows the tracking and recording of the
#ehaviour or action upon which the o#$ective is focussed% Setting an o#$ective that re&uires phone calls to #e
answered in three rings is fine, provided a system e'ists which measures whether this is actually #eing achieved% If
none e'ists the manager must #e prepared to set time aside time to actually monitor the response rates to incoming
phone calls% "he only other alternative is to get the person with whom the o#$ectives are #eing set to measure their
own progress* in some cases and situations it may #e accepta#le to do this, in others may#e not ( use common
sense to decide this%
Summary: Is there a relia#le system in place to measure progress towards the achievement of the o#$ective-
"he o#$ectives that are set with people need to #e capa#le of #eing reached, put most #asically* there is a likelihood
of success #ut that does not mean easy or simple% "he o#$ectives need to #e stretching and agreed #y the parties
involved% Setting targets that are plainly ridiculous does not motivate people* it merely confirms their opinion of you
as an idiot% "hey will apply no energy or enthusiasm to a task that is futile% Consider sending a group of foot#allers
out to play a game having told them the final score already, and they)ve lost. What)s the point- So don)t do it%
/Some people feel that greed should stand for the definition of in SM!"% But as this relates to the process of
communicating and deciding the o#$ective rather than a definition of the content it seems out of conte't in relation
to the rest of the criteria and conse&uently I do not use it% I concur however that o#$ectives should indeed #e agreed
#etween involved participants rather than enforced%0
Summary: With a reasona#le amount of effort and application can the o#$ective #e achieved-
"his means two things* that the goal or target #eing set with the individual is something they can actually impact
upon or change and secondly it is also important to the organisation% 1'ample2 "elling the cleaners that they )have
to increase market share over the ne't financial &uarter) is not actually something they can do anything a#out ( it)s
not relevant to them% 3owever, asking them to reduce e'penditure on cleaning materials #y 456 over the ne't three
months is entirely relevant to them% It)s what they spend their #udget on every day% s to whether it)s relevant to
what the organisation is trying to achieve, the manager has to decide this #y considering the wider picture%
Summary: Can the people with whom the o#$ective is set make an impact on the situation- 7o they have the
necessary knowledge, authority and skill-
Time Based
"his is pro#a#ly the simplest of the lot% In the o#$ective somewhere there has to #e a date /7ay,Month,8ear0 for
when the task has to #e started /if it)s ongoing0 and,or completed /if it)s short term or pro$ect related0% Simply2 9o
date : 9o good%
Summary: Is there a finish and,or a start date clearly stated or defined-