Why do businesses set aims and objectives?

Why do businesses set aims and objectives?

If asked the question ‘why do businesses set aims and objectives?’ most people would answer by saying something like ‘to set out what the business wants to achieve and also to measure what is being accomplished. Performance can then be tracked, and that information used to make decisions which are intended to make a positive difference.’ That all sounds good, but the key question is not ‘why do businesses set aims and objectives’ but is ‘how do businesses set aims and objectives that will drive improvement?’

This blog will consider the problems with setting aims and objectives, explore how HR setting aims and objectives could tackle those issues, and will end with the topic of continuous improvement in the workplace.

The problems with setting aims and objectives:

1. The objectives set are too vague


It is common for targets or objectives to be too vague to be of any use. Perhaps, what was required was not specific enough, or the objectives were clear, but a timeframe was not specified. A substantial amount of work has been done on developing techniques on how to effectively set objectives and exploring these techniques could easily take up this entire blog. However, one example is to set SMART objectives. Smart objectives are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound. Using SMART objectives should therefore mean that the two examples referred to earlier are avoided, but things are rarely that simple.

Whilst there are a wide range of tools available to assist with setting aims and objectives, and the exercise may appear straightforward, things often go wrong, and HR training may well be useful to avoid such pitfalls. If advice and guidance is needed regarding a particular situation, or there is a desire for tasks to be done on behalf of the organisation, HR consultancy would be something to consider. Plotkin & Chandler offers a range of HR training and HR consultancy services which are tailored to the needs of our clients.

2. A desire to measure everything


It is natural for organisations to want as much information as possible regarding how the organisation is performing. That information is then typically used to set objectives or targets. There may be a number of different targets at the same time. For example, depending on the size of the organisation, there are likely to be group or departmental targets as well as those set for employees on an individual basis.

A problem with measuring everything is that it can cause an organisation to become overloaded with information which means they can’t see the wood for the trees.  Just as information varies in its usefulness some objectives are likely to bring about improvement more than others. The most important objectives will vary depending on the particular organisation, but what is important is that before setting aims and objectives time is taken to ensure that they will make the desired impact.

It should also be pointed out that some things simply cannot be measured entirely with numbers. An example would be behaviours. This can prompt all sorts of questions such as ‘should objectives be set around things that are difficult to measure such as behaviours?’ If so, how should it be done and how will the results be used? The short answer is that most things can be measured but, as stressed from the outset, what is important is the impact that such information will make.

3. Contradictions


The more objectives there are the more common it is for those objectives to contradict each other. To provide a simple example, an employer sets objectives requiring employees to work at a particular speed such as serving the specified number of customers within the required timeframe. In this situation the objective is clear and what is required is not in doubt. However, what if there were also objectives relating to the customer experience? Is it possible for the employee to provide customers with a positive experience within the timeframe available? Does something need to give? If so, which objective is the most important?

4. Inconsistencies


It is common for employers to set aims and objectives and for them to be met in an inconsistent way. This may be due to one line manager adopting an approach which was different from others, or perhaps the difference in interpretation applied at a departmental level.  Whatever the inconsistency, or the reasons for it, such an issue can be damaging to the performance of the organisation and steps should be taken to provide clarity and direction.

5. An ad hoc and/or a short term view


Sometimes, when businesses set objectives, there is constantly a short-term view. This temptation is understandable as organisations want to show results quickly, but this focus can be counterproductive. Returning to the example above, could the focus on speed prompt customers to go elsewhere in the end? Do the objectives support wider aims?

Objectives should be set as part of an ongoing performance management process and not be regarded as an isolated event. As said above, Plotkin & Chandler provides HR training and  HR consultancy on a range of topics including all aspects of performance management and supporting organisations to set effective aims and objectives.

HR setting aims and objectives

As has been said above, there are a number of problems with setting aims and objectives. Having professional advice increases the likelihood of achieving the desired outcomes. Perhaps assistance is needed to set aims and objectives as a whole, or perhaps support is needed to devise objectives for particular employees, to deliver training or to oversee performance management. Whatever the needs of your organisation, we can provide outsourced HR services meaning that support is there when you need it. We deliver support on a project basis or as part of an HR support package.

Continuous improvement in the workplace

Most employers would say that they are seeking to achieve continuous improvement in the workplace. However, there is often confusion about how to achieve it. It is not about knowing why businesses set aims and objectives, but is about creating the conditions that enable employees, and the organisations that they are a part of, to excel.  That is not achieved by isolated activities but requires an ongoing process, of which setting aims and objectives is only a small part.

Plotkin & Chandler works exclusively in the areas of HR and employment law. To discuss your needs, and find out the ways in which we can help, call us on 020 3923 8616 or email us at info@plotkinandchandler.com







Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from us.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This
error: Alert: Content is protected !!