5 Steps to align objectives

In most of the companies, the top management makes many efforts to make everyone focus on the company’s results. Like most of the managers know, reach their outcomes means to translate the mission into action, in other words, define the objectives for each person.

However, if you ask in the organization, What is an objective? The answer will vary and in many cases will be confusing. The misunderstanding I found is the confusion between the difference between the objective and the goal. An example of this is as follow: “The objective is a goal I have to accomplish in my job.”
By following these simple steps, you will ensure your personnel will understand where to they have to focus their efforts.

1. Stablish the same definition for an objective.

Do a work session with the question: What is a goal? You will receive the definition that your staff has about the target word. Listen carefully to all the answers you receive, and you will find confusion between the business objective and the business objective. Maybe you have the same misunderstanding.

Let me explain how you will clarify the concept of the business objective. Please think of the mission as an area where the company realizes its potential in the market. The business objective is a smaller area where a business process will execute its functionality.

Therefore, the smaller areas are the different business domain. Look at the concept in this way, and you will see the difference between the buying process in the production and the retail.

Besides, it is relevant to define three levels for the objective:

Strategic; It represents the highest level, which impacts the organization as a whole. As an example, I could mention the following example: “Improve sales on the southeast market.”

Operational; It’s the one that is related to a specific business process. Giving it the purpose and the meaning of its existence in the business. The example could be: “Prospect new customers of mechanical parts.”

Executable; it´s in the atomic level and defines the outcome for an activity or specific task. The example could be: “Call continuously new customers with a defined profile.”

2. Identify all the objectives.

Regarding the importance to fulfill the mission the business objectives you could identify three types.

Explicit objective: it’s the one that is on the company’s documentation. Maybe it’s also written on posters so everybody can read it. An example could be: “Do not waste material in the production area.”

Implicit objective: It’s the one that is clearly understood by the people affected by it without the need to be written. An example could be: “Register all accounting transactions in our accounting software.”

Tacit objective: It’s the one that is inherent for the nature of the functionality or the people affected by it. This objective does not need to explain or define by anyone because it’s part of the people responsible. An example could be: “Use your body arms to lift the box.”

These definitions are essential because at the moment you write an objective you need to decide if the company need to be explicit. If not it’s because it is implicit or tacit. But be sure to identify all the objectives that exist in your company that required to fulfill the mission.

3. Align objectives towards the mission.

Now in this step, the action begins. It’s time to start defining the objectives of the company. As you notice I never mention the responsibility of the people. Why? Because the objective of the people comes from the objectives of the activities. The major mistake many professionals commit is trying to define objectives based on the job position.

Thus the steps are simple and direct but come from a complete understanding of the business and its purpose.

So take the following roadmap:

Step 1. Create the strategic objectives from the mission statement,

Step 2. Create the operational objectives from the strategic objectives, and

Step 3. Create the execution objective from the operational objectives.

Then you have a perfected align objectives toward the mission statement. At this point, you have a tree of objectives that come from the global definition down to the execution objectives.

Allow me to give you an example of an objectives tree.

Step 1. “Manufacture our products at the minimal cost,”
Step 2. “Prepare the raw material maximizing the material usage,” and
Step 3. “Cutting the iron plates with minimal scrap.”

For every case there no rules of how to describe the business objectives explicitly, but always remember no matter how you read the objectives tree up or down it has to make sense and in concordance.

4. Analyzes current business processes and activities.

At this point, you are almost there but not quite there. Try not to surrender to the temptation to start giving the business objective to the people. Remember the business objective of a person comes from the execution objectives that resides on the activities.

Take all the operational objectives and start assigning to your business processes. After you finish two scenarios could arise, first, all business objectives have been assigned, and all the business processes have objectives or objectives, or second, You end with business processes without an objective, or objectives not assigned.

In the first scenario, indicates that you are ready to continue. But in the second scenario, maybe you need to define an objective for the business process that not has it, and the possible reason is that perhaps your tree is incomplete. In the case, you have an objective without a business process, maybe you set this one, but it is not relevant for your operation.

Now list the activities contained in each business process. And for those activities link the executable objective that corresponds it. Follow this rule, you can not use executable objectives across different operational objectives of your tree. In other words, you can only use executable objective that is in the operational objective of the business process that is linking.

Same happens as before if you end with activities without executable objective or vice-versa, you need to find what is the adjustment needed.

5. Links objectives to the people.

Your final step is to make the relationship between persons to its objectives; by assigning the people to all the activities listed in your business process structure. When you finish linking it’s effortless to assign executable objectives or objectives (in a generic definition), to each person or each job position.

Now it’s possible that end with the same job position with different objectives. Well, that is telling you that you need to separate the job position in two different ones. Why is that? Well because of no matter if the job positions look very similar the aim is different, and the outcome is different. Doing this will help the boss to define the accountability and supervision he needs for each one.

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