Characteristics of Business Objectives

by Lisa McQuerrey; Updated September 26, 2017
Three businesspeople sat at table outdoors, smiling

Successful organizational objectives have key characteristics that define their nature and purpose. Establishing business objectives allows a company to identify, develop and implement specific activities designed to reach desired outcomes. Objectives may be short- or long-term in nature and should be developed in accordance with an organization's long-term strategic plans.

Strategic Focus

Business goals and objectives should be tied to the business’s overall operating and strategic plans. For example, an objective of staff training could be to improve customer service initiatives to assist in consumer retention. An in-house training and development objective might be tied to corporate objectives related to expanding knowledge base and improving specific employee skill sets. This approach keeps objectives focused and helps employees understand the importance and relevance of participation and support.

Well-Defined

Business objectives should be specific in nature. This includes defining the parameters of a project, detailing who will be involved in implementation, noting desired outcomes, factoring in time, budget and manpower, and structuring the process for achieving the stated objective. Undefined business objectives can result in misdirected processes, wasted human and financial resources, and intangible results.

Measurability

To determine if a business objective has been achieved, it must have predetermined measurable elements. For example, an objective to increase market share might include metrics that indicate a desirable increase in percentage of new customers. An objective to reduce operating costs might include a target figure for reducing budget items related to operations, payroll and professional services. These benchmark figures should be noted as part of the objective’s development.

Achievability

To be successful, business objectives should be realistic and attainable. This means ensuring the business has the necessary resources and time available for completing an objective. Steps necessary for undertaking an objective should not surpass the financial or human resources at the business’s disposal. Earning or retention goals, in particular, should also be within the grasp of existing staff or the objectives have the potential to frustrate and de-incentivize employees who feel they are given a no-win proposition.

Flexibility

Some degree of flexibility should be built into business objectives to provide a backup plan in the event an objective encounters obstacles that cannot be overcome. Things such as changes in the economy, alterations to staff or budget or a new strategic direction can all impact the ability of a business staff to meet stated objectives. Being able to assess and alter direction as necessary helps ensure the company’s progress toward established goals.

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