The key point for any of us to remember as we think about business objectives, goals, etc. is that no matter what our business is or does, our long term success is driven by our ability to achieve results in the short term.
This is often an idea that is confusing to people because we hear advice like:
“Have a big audacious goal to work towards.”
“You have to know where you are going or any road will get you there.”
“You can’t hit a target you don’t see.”
All of these pieces of advice are well intentioned and even valid in the right context, but for far too many of us, they also act as roadblocks to setting the right kinds of goals and objectives for our business.
Because they create an environment where we are likely to emphasize the wrong things.
That’s why value was so important. Because if you understand the value you are creating for your clients and for the market you exist in, it makes the idea of goal setting a bit easier.
Even the most goal oriented among us can struggle with setting goals. But to be better at setting business objectives, you have to become aware of the need to set strong goals for the organization. Because the one key purpose of your business objectives is to support the long-term growth and prosperity of your business, everything else that these objectives might do is just noise.
The best goals for any business are specific, measurable, have a timetable, and contain some form of accountability.
Which brings us around to setting clear objectives.
First, let me clarify the difference between goals and objectives. Because this is a term that is often difficult to differentiate for many:
- A goal is a statement that identifies where you are going, how you will know when you get there, and what time you are planning to arrive.
- An objective is all the about the specific steps you are going to take to get you to the goal you’ve set.
To put a little more meat on the subject, your goals help you with your effectiveness because they describe priorities. Your goals are usually built around words and descriptions of the improvement you are going to create in the world because of your success.
Objectives, on the other hand, explain how you are going to get to your goals, they back up and support your goals, and usually include numbers and specific dates to enable you to know if you are on track or off.
Depending on the nature of your business and the types of projects your organization is undertaking, the way you set your objectives will vary a bit. But any organization will make their objectives a lot more effective by taking the following steps:
- Tie your objectives directly to your goals: This means that if you want to achieve a more highly trained workforce, you need to plan regular training sessions, offer certifications, and create other learning opportunities that feed into your goal. Take it one step further by adding a date for completion.
- Create a matrix or framework to help you make decisions about what to work on and what to pay attention to: I like the framework created by the acronym ACES which stands for:
- Achieve: What do you want to accomplish?
- Conserve: What are you trying to keep?
- Eliminate: What do you want to stop focusing on?
- Steer Clear Of: What do you want to avoid?
- Create a scorecard to help you understand where you are, what is working and what isn’t working. This scorecard should be performance based and focus on the areas that you and your organization have deemed most important like people, financials, innovation, and strategy.
The fact is that setting business objectives that propel your projects to success and your business is growth is as much of an art as it is a science. The best way to continue to improve on this process is by setting some guidelines for your decision making process, tracking your goals and objectives against measurable outcomes and timelines, and continuing to revisit the process that you are using to ensure that it meets your needs, delivers results, and sets you up for further success.
If you are constantly doing that, you will find that your business objectives continue to improve and that this likely helps your business grow and become more efficient as well.