In any company, the organizational objectives set by management are translated into team objectives. Then, the manager together with the staff members develop the individual objectives, which bring us to the purpose of this article. First let’s have the same understanding over what a work objective is, namely a mutually understood agreement regarding a work specific outcome that the staff member is expected to achieve. Setting clear objectives allows one to understand their responsibilities and to gain a better understanding of the value and contributions that he or she can bring to the organization. Below you can find a list with what I consider to be the mandatory information one should posses about setting objectives as well as useful examples.
10. What exactly are objectives?
Based on the vision and on the mission of the organization, long terms and short term goals are set. Afterwards, these are translated into specific steps or objectives. In order to set objectives for his team member, the manager needs to know the processes within his team and how they interact with other departments. The employee on the other hand, needs to understand how he contributes to each activity. Each individual needs to have his specific objectives and understand how these objectives help the team to meet its objectives. A key ingredient in this step is that the objectives are set as a joint effort between the employee and manager, the agreement enhancing the commitment and the involvement of the employee.
9. Why is SMART important?
It is a well known fact that the objectives need to be set based on the SMART acronym, meaning that they have to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable or attainable, Relevant, Timely or trackable. You are most probably familiar with this notion. Having clearly defined objectives helps with understanding how they are measured and evaluated, assisting in evaluating the employee’s performance during the appraisal period.
8. Why Specific?
This means that the statement should be as precise as possible. There is a higher chance that an employee is going to achieve a specific objective rather than a general one. After phrasing the objectives, make sure it answers one of the following questions: “who is involved?”, “what needs to be accomplished?”, “when is the deadline?”, “which requirements and constraints will impact my work?” and “why am I undertaking this objective?”. An example of a specific objective is the following: increase the market share by 5% until EOY.
7. Why Measurable?
For each objective, try to determine the criteria that will help you measure progress. Try to include specific target dates and if the objectives are used for evaluating you performance, it would be useful to detail for each objective 3 ranges that will indicate your performance, namely below the target, on the target and above the target.
6. Why Attainable?
Try to set attainable tasks in the timeframe selected. Break the objective into smaller task and try to set a deadline for each one. Determine the feasible for each one and adjust the overall target date if necessary. Just think of your objective as of Matryoshka, the Russian doll.
5. Why Relevant?
Relevant refers to the correlation between the objective and the overall goals. You also need to take into consideration if this is the right time to implement, if you are the correct person to drive the change and even if the benefits will equal the effort you will put in.
4. Why Timely?
Be as specific as possible regarding the time you will achieve this objective, naming year and month of starting but as well for ending the activities. Example of timely personal objectives can be: Decrease the number of cigars smoked to less than 10 per week/ 40 per month by October 2013. Quit smoking by EOW.
3. Reviewing Objective
Make sure you agree the objectives with your managers and that they are stored in a final version or a signed format. After this step is done, you can move on to action. Try to keep daily/ weekly track of your progress and most of all, try to periodically communicate the progress reached. This way, you will get active feedback and will have sufficient time to make all the improvement necessary. A vital thing is to always stick to your scope and if a great idea pops up, it can be embedded in this/next year’s objectives as long as it is feasible in the timeframe agreed.
2. Make Action Every Day
In order to turn into achievements the objectives, you need to break them down into action points at weekly/monthly basis. This will act as a planning tool, but in the same time it will help you to measure your progress. Moreover, based on your objectives try to identify any constraints, show stoppers or dependencies.
1. Next step? Career Development!
Having a clear vision of where you stand in the organization and of how your objectives will help you and your team to improve in certain areas will inspire you to create the “picture” of career. Consider an annual career process where you will review the picture of where you want to be in 5, 10 or 15 years time.