The core of my role as a leadership team coach is to help my clients set strong objectives each quarter that advance the companies growth strategy and critical capabilities. Without these, they only focus their time and energy on the day-to-day demands of the business. Powerful objectives align the team and create urgency and progress on long-term goals.
However, when I walk into many teams, the objectives they've set are often vague, lack key details, and don't serve to focus and align the team. Generally this results in lackluster performance and frustration with progress. With a few revisions and an understanding of what makes good objectives, these pitfalls can often be avoided.
Here are five types of objectives, and examples of each, that I find work best for driving results. If you're having difficulty with your objectives, use these examples to fix them.
When you have an initiative or project to finish, use a completion objective. The key with completion objectives is to define what your "definition of done" is and to set a clear date. Here are three examples,
Allow new affiliate partners to sign up via the website by October 1st
Route all new customer service calls into the new CRM system by August 15th
Complete and deliver all senior executive 360 feedback reports by June 1st
Use this objective strategy for when you want to raise the bar on performance for a specific capability in the company and keep it there. For proficiency goals, select a specific performance indicator (how to measure) and a target (the number you want to achieve).
Increase the customer service NPS above 0.25
Get inventory level under 90 day inventory turn
Finish weekly leadership team meeting in under 55 minutes
3. Reduction or elimination
If you're trying to reduce or eliminate something in the business, use this approach. This one is similar to proficiency but opposite since there is a lower limit your trying to get to.
Eliminate all returns due to missing shipping address information
Have zero accidents on the shop floor due to liquid spills
Get same-day employee call-outs to zero
4. Run rate
With run rate objectives we're focused on an absolute number or volume, rather than a proficiency standard or ratio. We want to set a target rate and keep it there going forward. By focusing on rates rather than one total number, we focus on the system that needs to be put in place, not just creating a one-time win.
Increase our inbound lead rate to 25 qualified leads per week
Improve sales in the northeast to $750,000/month
Publish three new white papers per week
Sometimes you want to change a ratio in the business. With these goals, there is usually a range you're targeting with a high and a low. You want to achieve a specific balance, not set a bar to overcome and exceed. Numbers that are too high or too low are both undesirable.
Have 20-25 percent of new clients be small businesses
Spend two to four hours a week on learning and development activities
Keep two to three days of inventory on the top 20 best selling products
Don't over complicate your quarterly planning process. Pick three to five things to focus for the coming ninety days and leave everything else for later. It's far more productive to complete a handful of goals in a quarter than to get halfway on twice as many initiatives. And by focusing on these five types of objectives, you'll simplify your planning even more and accelerate your grow even faster.