Differences Between Target and Objectives

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Events and projects generally begin with a vision or epiphany. These ideas are later transformed into a more structured, defined result or outcome. The formative characteristics of these ideas can be collected and translated into components of work called targets or goals. People and organizations create processes and projects to help them reach these desired achievements in areas, such as performance, recognition and popularity. Once targets have been established within an organization, managers create projects appointed with people, funding and resources to refine these initiatives into a set of objectives, which are specific, measurable and attainable


Targets are goals that describe a future state or desired outcome. These actions are based upon Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory developed in 1960, which addresses the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence an individual to affect or implement change -- motivation. The process of defining goals is known as goal setting, the methods and measurements people use to pursue them is goal attainment.

Goal Setting

Targets vary in specificity, difficulty and acceptance. Specificity refers to the clarity of the goals, difficulty examines the level of challenge involved, and acceptance assesses the degree to which mutual commitment is achieved. Author Judith Gordon notes in Organizational Behavior, “Workers are more likely to perform a task if the goals are difficult and accepted, but not difficult and rejected.” Mutual development and acceptance are key factors in successful goal accomplishment.


Objectives are the activities one performs to achieve a stated target, or goal. Relevance, practicality, challenge, measurably, schedulability and effectiveness are key factors to consider when developing objectives. Relevance seeks to align the actions with the basic purpose of the organization. Practicality assesses whether environmental conditions are conducive to its attainment. Challenge addresses the level of difficulty and measurably and schedulability quantify the importance and progress of the objective, respectively. Effectiveness determines how the attainment of a particular objective measures in comparison to the expected benefits of the outcome.

Balance and Boundaries

Maintain balance in the assignment of objectives and make certain they are aligned and proportional with the strengths or abilities of the individual or organization. Work within the boundaries of the knowledge and technical abilities of the performer. Organizations that are highly technical should not attempt to perform marketing work and individuals that are soft-skilled should not attempt to perform highly computational or scientific tasks. Recognize that business and personal needs change over time, so objectives should be flexible to alteration or amendment, when necessary


About the Author

Jennifer Fleming has been writing since 2011. She specializes in project management from the beverage, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation industries. Fleming’s first published work was a segment in Walter McCollum's “Breakthrough Mentoring in the 21st Century.” She holds an Executive Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University and Doctor of Philosophy in applied management and decision sciences from Walden University.

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