What is a good objective?

What is a good objective?

Having clearly defined objectives and regularly reviewing them is key to your personal and your team’s success. It will help you to align with your organization, prioritize your work and better communicate what you do across teams.

Objectives are medium to long-term goals. Each organization has its own special way to set objectives. Nonetheless, here are simple and concrete tips to help managers and their teams set, review and achieve their objectives.

TL;DR

Number of objectives

From 3 to 5 max

Setting process

Co-built between manager and team members

Objectives should always be

Clear, measurable, time based and coherent with the company goals

Frequency of review

At least quarterly

Objectives review

Based on a clear indicator (e.g. Red / Green / Amber) and a qualitative comment


What is the right number of objectives ?

There’s no magic number but we recommend setting from 3 to 5 objectives. More than that may lead to over-extending yourself or your team, diffusing efforts and losing focus. Having only one or two objectives may indicate that objectives are too high level or consolidated which will make them very difficult to follow.

What is exactly an objective ?

Objectives are medium to long-term targets that you or your team want to reach. Setting an objective is basically answering two different questions. First, where do I want to go ? This is the objective itself. Then, how and when do I get there ? This provides the description of the objective and its end date. Good objectives should therefore always be composed of a short title, a description and a due date.

How to write a good objective ?

When drafting your objectives’ titles, you should try to make it short and ambitious. It will help you and your team to remind them and get inspired by them. Also try to express endpoints and use tangible and unambiguous terms. It should be obvious to an observer whether or not an objective has been achieved.

Don’t: “Keep growing”, “Continue doing X”
Do: “Ship feature B”, “Achieve X% growth on portfolio”, “Gain Y new users”

How to make an objective measurable ?

To write useful objectives’ descriptions, we recommend to determine around 3 key results per objective. The key results should express measurable milestones which, if achieved, will directly advance the objective. Put differently, it means that the key results of each objective should describe outcomes, not activities. This will help reach objectives and follow progress over time.

Don’t: “Analyze customer satisfaction”, “Participate in project A”, “Help team Z on”
Do: “Publish customer service satisfaction levels by June”

When to review objectives ?

Regular objectives’ review is the key to make them live and maximize the chances of reaching them. When objectives are reviewed only once a year for example, they would probably have been forgotten in between: it would be as if you and your team did not have any objective at all.

The best approach is to make regular and quick reviews every month or quarter. This is usually a useful exercise to help you reconnect your day-to-day with the broader picture. Don’t make it a big thing, just check where you and your team stand compared to your objectives.

How to review objectives ?

The best way to review an objective is to make a status update and associate a qualitative comment to it. The status measures the confidence in achieving the objective on the due date. We recommend using three simple categories for the status, for example : On track, Behind or At risk. Because a status update doesn't say it all, it is important to also associate a qualitative comment to it.

Don’t: “I am confident that we can reach our annual revenue target"
Do: “On track - We are X% above our revenue target year-to-date and the pipeline for the rest of the year is strong”

To put this into practice, there is no need to reinvent the wheel! With Popwork, you can fill in your team's objectives in just a few minutes thanks to a simple and intuitive framework.

Every month, Popwork will ask your team members to update their objectives with a status and a short comment. This will enable you to follow up the progress made or the challenges faced and help your team, month after month, achieve their goals.

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