Goal Vs Objective

The terms “goal” and “objective” are often used interchangeably in the professional world.

Even though they define different outcomes that your organization hopes to achieve, goals and objectives are frequently confused with one another. However, goals and objectives are not the same things since they differ in terms of timelines, how they are measured, the level of detail required, and the impact they have on your organization.

Each person on your team must be on the same lines in using this terminology.

Let’s look in detail at each of them. 

What are Goals?

A goal is a concise statement of the desired end result that is intended to be achieved over a substantial period, typically between three and five years. It is a general statement that does not define the processes to get the result.

Goals provide the organization and the employees a direction. The goal provides the answer to what it is that an organization wishes to accomplish.

Goals are:

  • Broader in nature
  • Helps in setting the direction or vision
  • Difficult to measure without proper objectives
  • Abstract in their ideas
  • Longer-term compared to objectives
  • Goals are the result after the objectives are achieved

Examples of Goals

  • Becoming carbon-neutral
  • Providing excellent customer service
  • A computer on every desk, in every home
  • Maximize profits

What are the Objectives?

In order to accomplish something, you need to break down your goal into manageable pieces of work known as objectives. These objectives should be accomplished in a time frame of no more than a year. Objectives describe the activities involved in achieving a goal and are SMART.

  • Specific: Make sure your objectives are specific.
  • Measurable: The objective must be measurable through measurable metrics.
  • Attainable: Objectives should be challenging, but they should be achievable.
  • Relevant: Check if your objectives are relevant to your goals.
  • Timebound: Create a timeline for your objectives to hold you accountable with a due date.

Objectives are

  • Narrow in scope
  • They have specific steps to be followed
  • They are associated with timelines
  • They are the means to the result
  • Easy to measure as they are specific
  • They are usually short-term or medium-term with a specific end date

Examples of Objectives

  • Reduce operational costs from 20% to 10% within two years
  • Increase manufacturing semiconductors to 500 per day
  • Earn 20% return on investment in a year
  • Increase the company’s market share to 5% by this fiscal year

Goals Vs Objectives

A goal is an achievable outcome that is generally broad and long-term, while an objective defines measurable actions to achieve the overall goal.

table showing difference between goal and objective

Types of Goals

Below are the different types of goals.

  • Time-Based Goal
  • Outcome Oriented Goal
  • Process-Oriented Goal

Time-Based Goals

Time-based goals outline the accomplishments you should work on achieving within a specific period. Time-based goals can be short-term or long-term, depending on the organization’s needs. However, given the time constraints associated with these goals, it is imperative that they be met within the allotted window.

For instance, one time-based target could be to increase revenue made from sales before the end of August.

Outcome-Oriented Goals

Goals that are outcome-oriented are not tied to a particular time frame and describe what the company hopes to accomplish at some point in the foreseeable future. In the case of outcome-based goals, the objectives offer further context concerning when this goal ought to be accomplished and how the achievement of the goal is evaluated.

One illustration of an outcome-oriented aim might be to raise the number of semiconductors produced daily.

Process-Oriented Goals

A process-oriented goal does not explain what outcome is being achieved. This type of goal is precise and specifies the actions that the team is accountable for taking in order to attain the outcome. If your company plans to develop a new workflow or process, it is recommended that you set goals that are process-oriented. When a company is going through a period of transition and change management is being implemented, this form of goal and target works very effectively.

Process-oriented goals may be short-term or temporary because new and improved processes are implemented once they’ve been achieved.

For instance, moving away from the waterfall technique and toward an agile framework is an example of a process-oriented goal.

How to Measure Goals

Setting a SMART goal helps all processes and efforts to fall into place. Your team will have a better chance of being focused, accountable, and inspired when everyone is on the same page.

But how do you measure your goals? You may determine whether your efforts provide the desired results for your goals through various approaches. Let’s look at a few of them.

Ask a Closed-Ended Question

The simplest way to measure a goal is by asking whether you met it or not. Your goal should be put in writing and thoroughly explained. Because the responses can typically be yes or no, process-oriented goals are the ones that are the least difficult to monitor.

Consider the example we discussed; if you want to migrate your project from waterfall methodology to Agile methodology, measure your goals by asking questions like, have you migrated to Agile methodology? If the answer is yes, then the goal has been met. If the answer is no, list the reasons so you can revisit this goal during your next planning session to determine if it is worth trying again.

Use a Points System

If your goal has multiple parts, they are difficult to measure in a single step. However, if you wrote the goal by following a set of guidelines, you may use those same guidelines to evaluate how well you did.

Take, for instance, the goal of launching a website before the end of the third quarter. Launching by itself is not enough in this situation; the goal is to launch at the scheduled time. Here, you can split the goal into two measurable parts: the action and the timeline.

In this example, if the website is launched, it will be rewarded one point, and if it is launched on time, it will be rewarded another point. If the website was launched but delayed, it will be awarded only one point. These reward points should be linked to performance or revenue so that everyone in the team is aware of the goal and aligned to work towards achieving it.

Follow a Rubric

It is difficult to quantify success when pursuing qualitative goals or goals with no associated timetables. In this situation, using a rubric is the best method for evaluating your progress. You can determine the expected outcome of the goal with the use of a rubric, as well as capture what actually occurred, enabling you to report on whether or not the goal was successful.

During the transition from waterfall to agile, for instance, if the team experiences more problems after the conversion than before, you should use a rubric to describe the desired outcome of the goal and what the actual outcome was to report that the goal was unsuccessful. This will help to fine-tune the process for the future.

How to Measure Objectives

Objectives are straightforward to measure because they are specific. To measure objectives, you can use any of the below approaches.

Measure Attainment

Usually, objectives have quantitative data like units, numbers, and figures. This means you can measure the progress you have made towards the outcome. 

For example, you want 1,000 customers from a marketing campaign, but you get only 900. 

The following calculation shows how much of your goal is achieved.

(900/1000) *100 = 90%

So, you have achieved 90% of your goal. While setting the goals and objectives for your organization, define the measures like average, below average, exceptional, and met and assign a range of percentages to them.

Measure Qualitative Data with Surveys

Suppose the objective does not include objective data, especially in scenarios where the objective is to change the behavior or are affected by people in another way. If this is the case, then quantitative measurements will not be able to assist you in determining whether or not you have reached your objectives.

For this purpose, surveys, focus groups, and other behavior measurements can provide you with the data to measure success.

For instance, the objective is to increase workers’ satisfaction levels. Because it is impossible to rely solely on quantitative data in this situation, you need to conduct polls to understand your employees’ behavior and make decisions that will increase their level of satisfaction. 

Measure Past Performance vs. Current Performance

There is no straightforward approach to measure the objectives for certain goals like improving brand awareness. In this scenario, define your metrics to measure by comparing your past performance with current performance. 

For example, you can measure by comparing website visits last month vs. the current month.

Examples of Goals and Objectives

Scenario: A Growth Goal

Goal: Increase the company’s market share.

Objective: Grow customer base by 25% month-over-month for the next 12 months

In this example, we can see that goal and objective depend on each other, and one way to grow the market is to acquire new customers.

How to Measure this Goal

Because this goal is high-level and vague, try measuring it using a “closed-ended question” framework.

Scenario: A Quantitative goal

Goal: Increase manufacturing of semiconductors.

Objective: Increase more resources in the next 12 months

In this example, we can see that goal and objective depend on each other, and one way to increase manufacturing is by acquiring more resources.

How to Measure this Goal

The goal in this example is outcome and time-based, while the objective is process-oriented. The goal and objective are closely related, but the two will need to be assessed differently to measure success.

Scenario: A Milestone Goal

Goal: Open a new franchise by Q4.

Objective: Obtain all licensing and permit documents by Q2.

In this example, we can see that goal and objective depend on each other, and to open a new franchise, you will plan before Q4 to achieve this goal. Obtaining licenses and permits will help you achieve the same.

How to Measure this Goal

To measure the goal in this example, try using the “closed-ended question” or “points” framework. If you had opened a new franchise by Q4, you have met the goal according to the “closed-ended question.”

Conclusion

The terms “goals” and “objectives” are sometimes used interchangeably, yet each has a unique function. Define clear goals and objectives and ensure both complements each other. It is essential to direct the efforts of your team members to attain the goals and objectives you have set.

Define a clear approach to measuring your goals and objectives and communicate them to your team members so that all your team works towards achieving them. Having well-defined goals and objectives and a method for monitoring progress toward those goals will help you evaluate where you are now and where you want to be in the future.