Types of Goals and Objectives

Setting goals and objectives is a task that is affected by the type of company, its environment and the kind of employees. Goals can be categorized into three major types – those which can be clearly defined by the type of industry and are long term; those that help in the smooth running of the organization and are ongoing; and third, those that help solve immediate problems and are short term. So goals will differ from department to department, as well as from person to person in the company’s hierarchy.

Long term goals for the organization and/or department

Long term goals and objectives by definition are set with a vision of what you want your company to be like 10, 20 even 50 years hence. They are envisaged to be the pathway for overall expansion of the organization, brand creation, globalization, turnover and profits that will be sustainable over a lengthy period of time. Setting such goals is done by following a popular technique called SMART, which implies:

  • Specific – a goal that is focused on the overall vision of your organization,
  • Measurable – that which can be quantified and checked for efficacy,
  • Achievable – a goal that is attainable,
  • Realistic – that which is feasible as well as viable,
  • Time Bound – a goal that has a specified time within which it should be achieved.

This procedure will involve answering some questions like who sets the goals, who implements them and how. These goals usually aim at aspects like restructuring of the company, downsizing, globalization, diversification, etc that will affect the company as a whole.

Goals that keep the organization running smoothly

With the company’s vision in mind the top management will set some goals for the middle management. Such goals and objectives aim at maintaining the company’s overall ethos and act as a guidance for running the organization smoothly.

At this stage individual goals come into play in a subtle manner. The middle management gets an opportunity to set goals for their departments and employees so that they and the company benefit as a whole. Having the freedom to set the goals on their own gives them a chance for greater participation in the company’s success and proving their worth.

This management technique is most useful where the outcome of the goals cannot be very clearly predicted so a little leverage is necessary. Being a little non-specific and flexible, these goals refer mostly to human resource management, maintaining cost versus profit ratio, customer relationships, public relations, marketing and advertising, etc. where different people will act and react differently in similar situations.

Short term job specific goals

Here’s a scenario: Let’s say you are a job placement agency. A job fair has been organized in a metro city and here’s your opportunity to get as many people as possible to register with your company. Your goals will now be specific to the upcoming job fair. Right from obtaining a stall at the fair, deciding on who should man it, how you should advertise and highlight your presence there; and how to lure qualified job seekers to register with you – all these will be short term goals specific to this event.

Initially, when you are appraised about the job fair and you are in charge of setting the goals, your thoughts may be a little unclear. But by breaking down the goal that is to be achieved into small tasks you can then list them out and tackle them one by one. Now you have a clear direction in which you need to proceed. Once your direction is set, you can then set very clear-cut goals for individuals who will be involved in the event.

There are four things that have to be kept in mind even if these goals are short term: (a) whatever decisions you make even for a short term goal will always affect the company in the long term; (b) the short term goals must be feasible; (c) the goals must be cost-effective and (d) the goals must match the vision of the company without a clash of interests.

Who sets and uses which goals?

The long term goals are usually envisioned by top management and decision makers in coordination with department heads. The department heads will set goals for the middle managers that are specific to a particular department aiming at profits as well as efficiency. The middle managers will set short terms goals for the employees. Also, at each level in the organization the people will have their individual goals too. As long there is no mismatch between individual goals and company goals, an organization runs smoothly and achieves its target, whether short term or long term.

Many times the goals of different individuals will overlap. For example, an HR Manager wants to implement automated management systems that track employee efficiency. In coordination with the finance department and top management, the HR Manager’s long term goal is to improve speed and efficiency of the employees so that they are more productive. The Manager is now able to track performance, detect any problems and correct the situation. In the long run there is complete coordination in the running of the business. Here the goal of the finance and HR departments is actually the same. Without setting goals a company is directionless. Hence, setting goals at all levels in an organization is imperative for success.

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