Goals vs Objectives – Let’s clear it up

Goals and objectives are the two words that are commonly used in today’s business world. Setting achievable goals in broad perspective and coming up with supporting objectives are important factors in the success of a company. To illustrate this better: defining goals, setting the right steps for achieving the goals (a.k.a. objectives) and following their key results is what brings success to a company.  Despite their importance for the business, goals and objectives are easily mixed up by many and in this article we will clarify the meaning of goals vs objectives for you. So, let’s get on with it!

 

Goals vs. Objectives

Photo by Godisable Jacob

 

What is a Goal?

Goals are the main results that your company wants to achieve.

They have a long time frame and a broad definition.

 

What is an Objective?

Objectives are the steps you have to take to achieve a goal.

They have a short time frame and a narrow definition.

 

Goals vs. Objectives

GoalsObjectives
Final results that we want to achieveSteps you have to take to achieve the final goal
Have a broad definitionThe definition is more specific
Time frame is usually longHave a shorter time frame
Generic action is taken towards a goalSpecific action is taken

 

So, you can see the table above breaks the difference down to simple bullet points. To begin, goals are the final results we want to achieve while objectives are the steps taken to achieve the goal. Since the goal is the main target, it has a broad definition which yields a necessity to take generic action. On the other hand, objectives have specific definitions. Therefore, objectives require specific actions. Above all, goals have longer time frames compared to objectives. In conclusion, goals might be seen as the final results we want to achieve while objectives are targets with short frames to achieve the final goal.

 

Goals vs. Objectives

 

Goals vs. Objectives Examples

Now that we have defined and compared our goals and objectives, let’s clarify the topic with some real-world examples and see what goals vs. objectives really are.

 

 Goal: Boost market share

Objective: Increase market share by 5% next year

While your goal might be boosting the market share, increasing market share by 5% next year can be your objective which gives you a time frame and a more specific target.

 

 Goal: Improve customer service

Objective: Returning a call should not exceed 10 minutes.

Improving customer service might be a goal for your company. However, this has a really broad meaning. Ask yourself: "how can we achieve something like this?" One way is to reduce the time for returning a call, let's say to less than 10 minutes, which will be an objective for your company.

 

 Goal: Diversify your profit

Objective: Grow sales over 10% for at least 5 products

Diversifying your profit might be your goal, and one way to do achieve it is increasing sales volume for different types of products, which becomes your objective. To better illustrate, you may grow sales percentage over a certain limit like 10% for at least 5 products which will help you diversify your profits.

 

To sum up

Alright, we talked about what goals and objectives are and differentiated them. To clear everything up, we also went through some real-world examples of goals vs objectives. As I mentioned before, goals and objectives are milestones that bring success to your company. Defining your objectives and key results (OKRs) successfully makes your company lead the market.