Management by objectives: what it means, how to define them and useful steps

Do you want a promotion at work or do you want to acquire new customers in your company? Management by objectives is the method that will bring you the desired success! If you want to become an expert in digital project management, I recommend the Digital Coach® Digital Project Manager Course.

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All our actions are driven by the desire to achieve something, this something becomes our goal, in work as well as in private life. Do you know what the objective of this article is? To talk to you:

  • of the meaning of working by objectives
  • the importance of organizing your work by objectives
  • of working towards objectives

But let’s start with the foundations to build your professional success or that of your company.

What does it mean to management by objectives?

To achieve the desired result, we must plan an operational strategy i.e. achievable productivity targets.

Working by objectives becomes, therefore, a way of developing the individual activity that translates into setting in advance a series of steps to be achieved with a well-defined periodicity: weekly, monthly but, for longer projects, also quarterly or annually.

There are 3 determining factors for organizing work by objectives:

  1. strategic planning,
  2. timelines,
  3. determination.

Without a business goal-planning strategy, no significant results will be achieved. That is why the first thing to do is to prepare a “battle plan” starting with a few simple but fundamental steps:

  • identify the goals you want to achieve;
  • define for each of these objectives the daily tasks (quantitative objectives) and those to be prioritized (qualitative objectives);
  • if you work in a team compare yourself with colleagues, collect feedback, and keep the team’s mood high.

Why organize work by objectives?

In the previous paragraph I explained the meaning of working by objectives, now you may be asking yourself: why is it important to organize work by objectives? The answer is simple: if you want to do business, you cannot avoid using a method of managing workflows and monitoring the progress of these workflows.

Determining objectives is a bit like drawing the map that will lead you to the treasure (the company budget): following the right course will lead to the certainty of the result. Do not forget, however, the importance of periodically checking the effectiveness of the strategic plan you have set in order to make the necessary corrections.

management by objectives advantages

The Deming cycle, also known as the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), a method designed to improve the quality of business processes, can help you. This cycle consists of four steps:

  • P – Plan – planning,
  • D – C – execution,
  • C – Check,
  • A – Act – action.

The Deming cycle is beneficial as an approach to “problem-solving” because it allows one to test possible solutions and thus redefine objectives.

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Advantages and disadvantages of working by objectives

Adopting the goal-oriented method of working allows the company to increase the efficiency of its operations, both in economic terms and in terms of the solidity of the company, and build a well-established workforce.

As always, “having clear ideas” is the condition for reaching the goal, and setting goals mean identifying the steps that will lead to this goal. On the other hand, however, the individual is required to take more responsibility for his or her actions, which the company is not always able to verify.

Each team member, therefore, must learn to manage his or her own workflow independently and be accountable when required.

Accountability becomes the watchword, not without pressure at the psychological level; working by objectives, in fact, puts a strain on the individual, who sees his or her activity constantly defined by whether or not objectives are achieved.

While having these goals helps one to stay focused, to put effort into what one does, and to “hold on” until the end, it also creates a strong and constant psychological pressure that must be limited in order not to turn into pathology.

Smart working as a tool for growth

Goal setting is a very important tool for personal growth and development of one’s potential: one listens to oneself and stimulates thoughts and reflections on all areas of one’s life.

The last year has seen a considerable increase in the “smart working” formula, adopted by many companies in response to the health emergency; many employees have found themselves working from home without having, however, a method to refer to. On the other hand, the company did not have sufficient control over the productivity of the individual worker.

The solution, for many realities, was to work by objectives: the employee is stimulated to achieve the result and the company can have feedback on the work by checking whether the set objective was achieved.

Working by objectives in smart working is, therefore, a winning methodology for both the employee and the company, but it requires great collaboration, responsibility, and trust.

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Goal Setting: what and how to set goals?

Now that you are clear about what goal setting means and why it is important to work with goals, let’s get down to practice: in this section, I will explain how to define your goals or those of your company.

One technique you absolutely must know is goal setting, i.e. training by objectives, which can help you in planning your activities. How to implement it?

  • define effective objectives
  • identifies an action plan to achieve them

One characteristic that distinguishes successful people, who feel satisfied with themselves and their work, from those who are unable to achieve results, despite constant commitment and willpower, is certainly the setting of clear and achievable goals.

Setting oneself appropriate goals with respect to one’s own activity is indispensable in order to critically choose one’s own objectives; one needs a method that defines, step by step, small steps to follow in order to achieve major changes in a gradual, structured, and measurable manner.

Here, then, comes goal programming, known as goal setting, which is a path that helps you plan specific goals according to specific needs and in accordance with your own rhythms and commitments. The goal-setting technique is based on the SMART model.

goal must be specific

Specific (S)

The objective must be as specific as possible, and avoid general concepts that could be misinterpreted. An example could be “I want to increase my customers by 30% compared to the previous year”.

Measurable (M)

The objective must be measurable, i.e. expressed in numbers so that you can immediately see whether it has been achieved. For example, in a Facebook campaign, you want to get 50 orders per day.

When this is not possible, you can create a value scale: you are doing a brand campaign you cannot have such precise numbers, but you can for example count the increase in phone calls.

Achievable (A)

The goal must be attainable, and ambitious but still commensurate with resources and capabilities. For example, if what you want to achieve is within your reach, by working hard you can achieve it.

Relevant (R)

The goal must be realistic, relevant to you or your company, and never trivial, to keep your focus and motivation high. Investing a few hundred euros and getting the same results as companies investing thousands and thousands is certainly not a realistic goal!

Time-Bound (T)

The goal must be time-bound, therefore have a deadline that becomes a motivational lever to reach the goal. For each goal, define a date.

Let’s take a practical example

This model has undoubted advantages in terms of clarity, focus, and motivation, which are indispensable factors for achieving any goal. It allows you to analyze your project objectively and establish whether the goal you have set is defined, measurable, feasible, and verifiable on a time basis.

This method will be very useful whenever you are dealing with complex goals and need an effective strategy to achieve them.

If, for example, you want to increase the number of your followers on social media your SMART goals could be:

  • S: Increase followers on Facebook.
  • M: Increase current followers by 200%, from 100 to 500.
  • A: It is an achievable goal because I already have a profile on Facebook that I update periodically.
  • R: I want to get more followers on Facebook because I want to improve my online reputation.
  • T: I want to achieve my goal in 12 months.

The SMART goal would be: “I want to increase my Facebook activity to gain 200% more followers within the next 12 months. This way I can improve my online reputation and acquire more customers”.

Working by objectives: how to achieve them?

If you have read this far, you will have realized that working by objectives is the method that allows you to measure the growth of your company or business through strategic planning made up of many measurable, verifiable, and modifiable objectives.

Do you want to know how to work by objectives? Here are some useful tips:

  • Identify the result you want to achieve from the project, i.e. where you want to go.
  • Prepare a strategic action plan identifying all short, medium, and long-term intermediate objectives.
  • It uses the SMART method to identify intermediate targets.
  • Periodically checks the achievement of intermediate targets by adopting qualitative and quantitative measurement criteria
  • Where necessary, “correct the shot”, and modify the objectives by adapting them to the new needs.
  • Don’t forget to keep your motivation high but contain your stress, otherwise, you will struggle to achieve your goals.

Identify key results

The objective, in itself, is the “what” to be achieved; but an important differentiating lever for you or your company is to define the key results. The key results, in fact, determine the “how” to achieve the objectives, are specific, and adhere to well-defined timeframes but, precisely because of their value, the “key results” are essential as a method of working.

Companies aiming for success adopt the OKR – Objectives and Key Results – method, which aims to spur the individual to perform at his or her best, and to exceed even the “possible”. OKR is a methodology that appeals to the psychological factor of the individual, aiming at his or her direct involvement and collaboration with colleagues.

But it also has undoubted values in terms of the feasibility of the process, i.e. by keeping the focus on short-term and regularly measurable goals, it guarantees constant monitoring and the possibility to intervene immediately to correct “the shot”.

Learn to manage time

When strategically planning work by objectives, it is also important to consider the timeframe for achieving the objectives. Macro categories with which to divide objectives are:

  • short-term
  • medium-term
  • in the long term

This subdivision will allow you to have an overview of the steps you need to follow to reach your goals (long-term vision) and, at the same time, to have intermediate goals (medium-term) and small daily targets to help you keep your focus and pace.

Apply the right mindset

Goals to be achieved in work, but also in private life, require an “action plan”. Identifying goals is indispensable, but so is working to “hit the target”. It is crucial to adopt the right strategy and mindset; here are a few tips that may help you:

  • think about your goals using positive phrases and concepts
  • put your objectives on paper
  • prepare a calendar of your objectives to help you visualize them concretely
  • when every goal is achieved, rewarded!

Working by objectives allows us to act according to the determination we employ to realize our desires and evolve as individuals, in the private sphere as well as at work, so don’t wait but plan your goals for success now!

Organise work by objectives

The starting point for a truly efficient organization of work by objectives is to classify them by areas, i.e. by main categories so as to identify the most important aspects, whether we are talking about business or personal objectives. The aim is to create a kind of “shopping list” with areas of decreasing importance that will enable prioritization.

Goal Setting is a method of defining and motivating the attainment of goals, and thus can be applied to all areas but requires that goals be defined according to the SMART model that identifies the qualities that each goal must have.

Conclusions and Free Coaching

Working by objectives is a method that can be of great help to you in structuring your business, but don’t forget that in life in general as well as in business, there are always variables that we cannot control, and that have an impact on the final result.

That is why, the more you can give yourself a method and a program by objectives, the more you will reduce the incidence of variables and maximize the possibility of reaching your goal.

Now that you understand the importance of working by objectives, you need to take action and revise the strategic plan of your business by applying what you have learned from this article.

Rely on a Digital Coach consultant to understand how to Work by Goals and achieve success!

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