Do You Know How To Set Objectives?


One of the most important tasks as a manager is to set objectives for your team. This will help the team focus, contextualize and drive performance. To set objectives is also an important tool to manage the careers of people and to give aim for their next step. Depending on one’s leadership style, there are many ways to go about in setting objectives. Nonetheless, this is less about what type of manager you are, and more about the individuals beneath you. There are 4 key steps your shouldn’t miss when setting objectives for your team.

AWARENESS. First thing is to be aware of the company’s objectives. Where is the company today and where is it going. Understanding the strategy helps to identify the key activities that your team will be involved in. Not always the company’s strategy is clear, neither the alignment with your team. So take some time to reflect about it and make it clear to yourself, particularly before starting to tell people what they need to accomplish next year.

CLARIFY EXPECTATIONS. There are generally three steps in this phase. The first is to build a story around the contribution of your teams’ work towards the company’s objectives. The second is to individualize these activities and structure them in key tasks that your team member will be involved in. The third step is to set-up clear thresholds for performance standards.

SEEK CONTRIBUTION. Despite the fact that you set-up the objectives for your team members, it is absolutely critical that your team member participates in this process. You might define the WHAT, but your team members will help you define the HOW. It is very important to be creative and look at things through the “what if” lens. The outcome from these discussions will be fed into the specific formulation of objectives.

GAIN COMMITMENT. As a manager, you can either force people to commit, or let them commit by themselves. The first solution is always short-lived. To gain a genuine commitment, you must identify mutual benefits from the tasks at hand. Generating win-win environments leads to high motivation and focus. Then, it is important to formalize the performance agreement. This will help to outline the desired results, but also the guidelines, resources, monitoring and reporting expected.

Remember, setting objectives is not about control. And it is not about ensuring results before they actually happen. It is about motivating individuals and teams to achieve specific goals that are connected to not only the company’s performance, but also to their personal development. It is about directing the individual confidently forward in his career, not about securing the company’s results. To that end, you should have already started to build a great team.

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