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How to set corporate objectives

Effective objective setting in business

 If you think you’ve got this covered, just have a think about these three questions before you dismiss this blog:

  1. When was the last time you reviewed your corporate objectives?
  2. Are they really objectives or are they goals?
  3. Does everyone in the organisation know what they are? 

What's the difference between a goal and an objective?

It’s important to clarify the difference before you start or before you revisit what you already have. We think of the goal as something wider than the objective. For example, common goals could be any of the following:

  • Increase turnover
  • Increase profit
  • Improve customer or employee satisfaction
  • Decrease time to market

Or, for a pizza restaurant: “We want to sell more pizza than anyone else”. There could be a number of objectives aligned with this: increase market share to 51% by 31 December 2019; increase customer satisfaction by 15% by 31 December 2019; increase sales in the SE region by 15% by the end of December 2019. An objective is one of the things that will get you to the goal.

What are corporate objectives?

The things you want your organisation to achieve over a certain period of time. Simple statements. They’re usually financially related, such as increase in profit or turnover. Or, they might be more specific: a percentage increase in the sale of a particular product, for example. They must be detailed. How much do you want to increase by? And by when?

Corporate objectives should set the tone for all the other objectives in the business, they must be set first. Departmental objectives should feed directly into these. If they’re not aligned, you’ll end up with departments working in silos, not communicating properly, duplication of efforts and generally poor performance.

Quite apart from the fact that goal setting in this way gives you some peace of mind that everybody knows what’s expected of them, this also increases employee engagement. They all know how they contribute. The most famous version of this is JFK and the cleaner:

I'm helping put a man on the moon.

If you don’t know it: in 1961, when JFK visited NASA, he spoke to a man who was mopping the floor. He asked him what he did at NASA. And he said, “I’m helping put a man on the moon”. He understood the big picture and how he was contributing and, he bought into it. If he didn’t he would have said, “I mop the floors”. One of the ways to ensure that everyone buys into your corporate objectives is to share them. If employees see how they are contributing to their manager’s objectives, they are more likely to feel empowered.

How to set objectives

Good objective setting is not a quick job. It’s not as simple as just deciding you want to increase your profit by 20% next year, for example. It’s vital that you also consider the environment that you’re working in today and how that might change over the next 3-5 years. There are lots of ways to do this but the simplest (and probably the most well-known) are using the PESTLE and SWOT models. When you’re carrying out your analysis there are a few things to remember:

Go outside the C-Suite

Make sure you ask for input from other members of your team. You need a 360 view on this, so get as much input as you can. You really need input from someone outside your industry too, a fresh pair of eyes sees what you can’t.

Look at the outside in

When analysing where you are now (before you look at where you want to go) cover these three levels:

  1. The world – what’s happening in the world today, politically, economically, socially, technically, legally and environmentally or ethically
  2. The industry – how do the things you’ve covered impact on your particular industry and what is happening on these fronts from within your market specifically. Also, how competitive is it, how easy it is for new entrants to set up, for example?
  3. Your business – what are the most significant relationships your organisation has, your customer market. Are they being managed effectively? Remember there is far more to this than just thinking about customers in the traditional sense. See below:

Work on five years, publish one

As discussed above, it’s important that the objectives are shared with the whole business. While you should be working on a five-year plan, it’s best to just publish one. This ensures focus on the next 12 months. By quarter. And just have three. For everyone.

Make sure they’re SMART

You’ve probably heard this a million times before, but it’s important to re-iterate. If your objectives aren’t SMART, they’re not worth having and will have a negative effect on the business. There are a few different versions, here’s one, in case you need a reminder:

S

pecific – what exactly do you want to accomplish, give all the details

M

easurable –how are you going to track progress?

A

chievable  – is it realistic based on existing environment?

R

elevant – does it fit with key responsibilities and align with other objectives?

T

ime-bound – What is the deadline?

If you need help goal and objective setting, get in touch. It’s vital that you have a 360 view when analysing. We are the objective view that you need. Contact hannah@hoylandmarketing.co.uk to find out how we can help.

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