How to set objectives and measurements that deliver on all fronts


Setting objectives enables an organisation to set and monitor performance of the overall business, its departments, and its people. Objectives should provide a clear direction and goal that individuals and teams want to strive for.

Many of us have heard of the ‘SMART’ framework for objective setting (though here at Pure Blue Ocean, we have evolved this to be more effective and ‘SMARTER’, find out more here) but yet, many do not follow the simple ‘SMART’ premise. Objectives must be specific to the role, individual or organisation, it should be measurable (you need to know when you have achieved it) it should be ambitious, providing a stretch target, but realistic at the same time as otherwise you will demotivate individuals; and it should be time based so individuals know when it needs to be done by. (We also think they should be exciting and recorded)

Objectives should cascade from the top down. For example, if the overall business objective is to grow profit by 10% then this should then cascade down to each relevant function, based on what their contribution should be towards this objective. Objectives should not only be at this strategic level, but also by role and individual. Employee objectives should be specific to them not be a list of tasks, or regurgitation of the job description. They should think longer term, especially if we consider they are reviewed as part of the appraisal process, which tends to be annually. That being said, we should ensure we are monitoring the progress against these objectives on-going. A year is a long time to wait to course correct someone who is not going to meet their objectives or is under-performing. Regular reviews should aid in forming the building blocks and deliverables in order to achieve the longer-term goal.

Psychology suggests that objectives appeal to what’s known as the self-actualising self. This suggests that each of us is striving for personal growth and the need to fulfil our potential. If the objective contributes to that fulfilment, then we are likely to be motivated and committed. Objectives also set conditions of worth. If we achieve the objectives, and gain recognition from our line manager and peers, we are content.

Metrics should also drive a collaborative approach across teams and organisations, so they work together to achieve the same goals, otherwise you create silos of working which is unproductive. Sales targets should be aligned to marketing for example. This encourages team working and everyone striving for the same aims. If everyone works together, supports one another, and are aligned and are clear on the goals, then they are more likely to be met, and perhaps also exceeded.

If you would like to know more about how to set the right metrics and how to measure them, contact us at
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