It might be difficult for you to imagine how it sounds to ask people to differentiate goals and objectives. As simple as it might appear, it really is a challenging task for many organizations and career people. Many people even take the two as one. In fact, most organizations public or private, large and small have little or no understanding of the difference between goals and objectives.
Although the two terms “goals” and “objectives” describe the same thing, which is the desired outcomes that a business or a person wants to achieve, the difference between the two is too significant to be ignored.
To advance your career or grow your business, you need a strategy that involves setting and using clear objectives and defined goals. Therefore understanding the difference between goals and objectives is needed if you’re to get it right.
In this article, I am going to clarify to you the difference between goals and objectives, and all other things you need to know about setting goals and defining objectives.
What Are Goals?
A goal is a short but clear statement that defines an outcome an organization or a person wishes to achieve over a period of time, usually three to five years. Goals, as a broad statement, don’t state how an outcome is to be achieved but only state what outcome is to be achieved.
Examples of Goals for Business
Some examples of goals a company can set for itself include creating a brand, growing revenues, maximizing profit, improving customer service, improving customer loyalty, etc. The most important thing to note about goal setting is that goal statements are always brief and clear.
Examples of Goals for Career
Some examples of goals an individual can set for his career include growing your time management skills, growing your communication skills, improving productivity level, etc.
Types of Goals
There are three types of goals that you can set namely, process goals, performance goals, and outcome goals.
- Process goals involve setting particular actions or processes you wish to achieve for yourself. For example, targeting to read five pages of a novel before going to bed every day.
- Performance goals involve setting a standard of performance you wish to achieve for yourself. For, targeting to score “A’s” in all your college final papers.
- Outcome goals are based on being successful in one goal to achieve the goal. For a student to win a scholarship, for instance, you need to come out as the best performing student in all your papers.
One thing to note about these types of goals is that while process and performance goals are easy to control, outcome goals are not. Another thing is the relationship between them, which is linear in nature. By this, it means when you succeed in one goal there is a high chance of succeeding in another.
Tips for Setting Goals
- Set goals that will interest you to achieve.
- Set both short and long term goals.
- Set small and attainable goals first.
- Keep a tab on your progress.
- Make your goals flexible for possible adjustments.
- Give yourself incentives for goals achieved.
- Align your goals with your objectives.
- Set a standard to measure or evaluate the achievement of your goals.
- Be detailed and specific about your goals. Don’t set too many goals that you wouldn’t be able to achieve any one.
What Are Objectives?
Objectives, on the other hand, are pragmatic and specific targets that you need to achieve over a period of time (usually a year or less than a year) to accomplish a particular goal. For example, to reduce operating costs by 10% within two years, a company may decide to reduce its manpower.
Examples of Objectives For Business
- Increase return on investment by 20% in a fiscal year.
- Reduce indirect costs by 15% within two years.
- Increase profit margin by 10% in a fiscal year.
- Capture 7% of market share by the end of the next fiscal year.
Examples of Objectives for Career
Some examples of defining objectives for career include:
- Increasing your time management skills by 30% within the next quarter.
- Attaining management level in the first 3 years of your career.
Differences Between Goals and Objectives
- The purpose of a goal is to achieve a mission while objectives aim at achieving the goal.
- Goals are broad in nature while objectives are narrow in nature.
- Goals are set for a long period of time usually three to five years, while objectives are for short and specific actions related to a short period of time usually a year or less than a year.
- Goals can’t be measured in terms of tangible and measurable targets while objectives can be measured in terms of tangible and measurable targets.
Are you ready to set your own goals and objectives now?
Go ahead and start now!
But don’t forget you need to understand the difference between the two terms. You also need to consider their various examples and tips so you wouldn’t go wrong. With this done, you’re right on your way to setting successful goals and objectives.