Setting objectives (and actually sticking to them) is crucial for your business. Objectives will give you and everyone in your company a very clear picture of what you’re working towards, and could be the difference between your company nose-diving or thriving… particularly in periods of economic certainty. Here’s everything you need to know about setting objectives and sticking to them.
Why should you set objectives?
- Objectives will give you guidance and direction: your employees (and you!) will look to your objectives when making difficult decisions. If you’re not sure on how to proceed in a variety of instances, referring to your business’s objectives will provide you with a kind of ‘road map’ to navigate with so that you know you’re heading in the right direction.
- Objectives will motivate and inspire your employees: one of the biggest reasons that objectives are important is that they’ll give your workforce a target to aim for and the drive they need to deliver results. If they understand what your business’s needs are, what they’re working towards and what’s in it for them, there’s more chance they’ll pull off whatever you’re hoping for!
- Objectives will help you to evaluate performance: setting objectives means that you’ll be able to assign individuals in your organization with specific targets and responsibilities, having something measurable to refer to when you’re reviewing their performance. Then, collectively, you’ll be able to compare your objectives with actual performance, adjusting processes and behaviors as required.
How should you set objectives?
As you can see, it’s important to set objectives if you want your business to succeed. However, it’s no good just saying “I want X to happen”. Instead, you have to be mindful about how you’re going to set objectives, or in other words, be ‘SMART’ about it…
SMART stands for ‘specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely’. By delving into each of these elements when setting objectives, you’ll have a better chance of actually achieving whatever it is you want to achieve.
- Specific: be as clear as you possibly can when you’re writing your objectives. This is not the time to be ‘wishy washy’!
- Measurable: “to make more profit” isn’t a well-defined enough goal. However, “to increase profit by 20 percent” is a good goal because it contains precise figures and units. Include points of reference that you can actually measure if you want to set good objectives.
- Achievable: while it’s a good idea to aim high (after all, no-one succeeds by playing it safe!), your objectives should never be impossible to achieve. Setting the bar too high is only going to end in disappointment, and you’ll demoralize and demotivate everyone along the way if you do so.
- Relevant: set goals that are pertinent and related to what you actually want to achieve. Make sure you see a clear link between your objective and what you’re currently doing.
- Timely: finally, give your goals a deadline. This is important because it lets you know whether you’ve succeed or failed, and gives you and your employees motivation to work towards something. Not having a time limit can result in apathy, which is when objectives slip.
How to stick to your objectives
Now that you know why objectives are important and how to set them, here are a few ideas on how to actually stick to them…
- First, build reminders. Set yourself notifications, milestones and meetings so that you actually keep on track with your objectives. This will keep your targets in the forefront of everyone’s minds and increase the likelihood of meeting your goals.
- Second, review progress. At various points throughout the year, take time to review the progress you’ve made towards meeting the objectives. Are there any sticking points or causes for concern? You can use technology to help you set objectives and review performance in real time using software and plugins, such as a plugin for Jira. Tackle issues by spotting them quickly and resolving them before they hinder your chances of achieving your target.
- Finally, offer rewards. Your employees are far more likely to meet your objectives by breaking them down into objectives for them to meet. Incentivize them to meet these objectives by offering rewards such a bonuses and pay rises.