Setting Targets and Goals


Managing by Objectives helps ensure that the organization is moving towards achieving its goals. Teams get together and agree their objectives and agree the strategy they are going to adopt in pursuit of their overall goals.


An objective may be defined as “something which has to be accomplished, either as a point to be aimed at (a target), a plan or a project to be implemented or completed, a standard of performance to be achieved and maintained, personal development objectives to be achieved, or values to be maintained.”


 Characteristics of a Good Objective.

The SMART criteria may be used to define a good objective:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Agreed

R = Relevant

T = Time related


(I) Specific:

The objective/target must be documented in the Performance Review Form setting out what is to be achieved and within a specified time frame.

(ii) Measurable:

There is little point in agreeing objectives unless one is clear how performance will be measured. There are several types of measurement systems including the following:

·        Impact measures – e.g. completion of a project, number of clients availing of a service.

·        Reaction measures – e.g. satisfaction survey of clients/customers.

·        Time measures – e.g. meeting deadlines, clearing waiting list backlog, and response times.

·        Quality measures – e.g. quality assurance reports.

·        Financial measures – e.g. income and expenditure.


Measurement techniques should meet the following criteria: –

  • Measures should focus on results
  • Teams must have control over the achievement of the goals
  • Measures should be objective and observable
  • Teams must have access to relevant data
  • Existing measures should be used or adapted wherever possible


(iii) Agreeing Objectives:

Team Leaders should bring their team together to take part in setting objectives with a view to reaching agreement. These objectives should be set in line with the overall goals of the organization and the agreed service plan.

The steps required to agree objectives:

  • ·        Identify and agree the key performance areas for the team.
  • ·        Ask the team what goals they believe can be achieved for each of the key performance areas.
  • ·        Discuss the suggested goals and agree on any amendments.

·        Agree on the performance measures that can be used or the sort of evidence that can be obtained to indicate the extent to which targets/goals have been reached.

(iv) Realistic:

If objectives/targets are to improve performance and motivate team members there is no point in making them too easy. They should be challenging, aimed at developing team members and giving them a real sense of achievement. They must also, however, be realistic.

Teams should avoid setting objectives which are over-optimistic. Teams should set objectives which are within their control and capability and in line with available resources.

It may be necessary for teams to amend their objectives during the year due to circumstances outside of their direct control. This flexibility is important. External factors may change one of the priorities of a team, rendering their original goals unobtainable during the performance review period in question. It is important, however, that the objectives/targets are not amended unless absolutely necessary as this would discredit the process. The role of a Team Leader when faced with a problem is, wherever possible, to encourage team members to identify what other actions need to be taken to overcome the difficulty rather than to change direction.


(v) Time Related:

Objectives should be completed within an agreed time scale. The expected time lines should be specified in the Performance Review Form.


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