Management by Objectives

Did you know that 37 percent of managers believe that their most important goal is to keep employees on track to meet goals? However, how do you set goals and manage your employees to ensure that they meet the goals of the organization?

Management by objectives is one of many management techniques that you can use to improve your business and your operations. Is it the best one for your business?

Keep reading to learn more about what it is and how to develop an MBO strategy.

What Is Management by Objectives (MBO)?

Management by objectives approach identifies the goals of an organization and how goals should be achieved. It aims to give workers a clear understanding of what needs completing and the resources available to help. It also helps to ensure that the company’s leadership knows why specific goals are essential and how to achieve them.

The MBO process can get broken down into a five-step process. If you want to know how to start an MBO program, you need to learn these five steps. The steps are as follows:

  1. Define organizational objectives
  2. Translate the objectives to employees
  3. Monitor performance
  4. Evaluate progress
  5. Reward achievements

Benefits of Management by Objectives

Management by objectives can help your business in a number of ways. Some of the ways that management by objectives can benefit your business include the following.

Increased Team Productivity

Management by objectives helps to increase team productivity. It helps to reduce bureaucratic hurdles, which can often lead to wasted time and resources. Management by objectives also allows workers to take a proactive approach to the day-to-day tasks at hand.

This is because they have a clear understanding of the higher-level goals they can achieve. It also helps to identify and develop the strengths of each team member.

Improved Quality of Work

When workers are aware of the objectives and how to achieve them, they can focus their work on achieving those goals. They can then prioritize tasks that are more important.

Increased Motivation

When workers are able to focus on achieving specific goals, they are more motivated to complete those goals. This ensures that the tasks at hand get completed with the highest possible quality.

Improved Accountability

With management by objectives, workers are held accountable for their actions. Accountability is encouraged because workers are aware of the goals they are to achieve and are held accountable for their actions. If a worker misses a goal, they can be held accountable for that failure.

Improved Team Communication

Management by objectives can also help to facilitate better communication between team members and the leadership team. Workers can clearly define their responsibilities and goals, allowing for better communication about what’s required of them and what they can expect in terms of support and resources.

Communication is also improved because team members are able to focus on achieving goals instead of other less critical tasks.

Increased Employee Engagement

When workers can identify and achieve meaningful goals, they feel more engaged in their work. They are also more committed to the organization’s overall goals instead of just their specific objectives.

Improved Strategy Alignment

Management by objectives helps to align the day-to-day tasks with the overall business strategy. This can be done by having the higher management and workers develop a list of goals based on the company strategy.

For each goal, tasks can be identified that need to be completed. These tasks can then get assigned to workers and teams. As the goals are achieved, management and workers can adjust or change the strategy or the goals as necessary.

Improved Business Results

Management by objectives can also help to drive better business results. This is because workers can focus on achieving specific goals that help to achieve the overall business strategy.

Disadvantages of Management by Objectives

Why wouldn’t you choose to follow the path of MBO? Management by objectives can also have some disadvantages. Knowing what those disadvantages are can help you address them as you plan.

Goal Setting Over Strategic Planning

The first disadvantage of management by objectives is that it can take the focus away from strategic planning. Instead of creating a strategy based on the organization’s overall goals, management by objectives can focus on setting objectives and goals that can help to achieve the overall strategy.

Management by objectives can also focus on very short-term goals instead of longer-term strategic plans. This means that the organization will not be able to create a more effective long-term strategy. As a result, management by objectives can be less effective than business planning and strategic planning.

Increased Pressure on Team Members

Another disadvantage of management by objectives is that it can create additional pressure on team members. Many managers are very focused on achieving their objectives. Because of this, they can force their team members to work longer hours and to complete tasks faster.

This can result in increased stress and increased employee turnover. Therefore, there’s a need to find a good balance where you can meet your goals without causing employee burnout.


Another disadvantage of management by objectives is that it can result in self-interest. Primarily because it often promotes competition between team members. So, team members may focus on achieving their objectives without considering other aspects of the business.

You don’t want to sacrifice a healthy workplace where team members support each other. It’s important to keep this in mind when you’re using an MBO approach.

Step One: Define Organizational Objectives

The first step in the MBO process is to define the organizational objectives. The objective should be clear, specific, measurable, and time-bound. There are many types of business objectives you can choose from that will help you meet your goals.

Financial Business Objectives

Financial business objectives get used to manage the business as a whole. They help you focus on the revenues and costs of the business.

Financial business objectives help you manage your revenues, expenses, capital, and profits to meet your financial goals for a given period. Examples of these types of objectives include factors like revenue, costs, cash flow, and sustainable growth.

Strategic Business Objectives

Strategic business objectives help you to achieve the organization’s vision and ensure the company is working in the same direction. They help you focus on the goals and resources that are required to achieve the organization’s strategic plans.

Examples of strategic business objectives include factors like market share, market position, product innovation, and development.

Customer-Centric Business Objectives

These business objectives get used to meet the needs of your customers and satisfy them. These objectives will influence your decision-making process and help you decide what offerings you need to provide to your customers to help them achieve their specific goals. Customer-centric objectives can focus on sales, brand awareness, customer satisfaction, churn, etc.

Internal Business Objectives

These business objectives help you to improve and enhance the performance of your organization. They allow you to understand the capabilities and competencies of your employees and help you align your employees’ performance with the organization’s requirements. These objectives can focus on retention, productivity, company growth, culture, and more.

Human Resource Business Objectives

Human resource business objectives get used to manage the people within your organization and make sure the organization is working at its optimum level. These can fall within internal business objectives.

Human resource business objectives help you manage your human capital to achieve the organization’s goals. Examples of human resource business objectives include factors like employee satisfaction, employee engagement, employee turnover, and employee productivity.

Regulation Related Business Objectives

These business objectives help you manage legal or regulatory requirements changes. They allow you to understand the requirements and modify your business plans to maintain business continuity. These types of objectives focus on compliance, quality control, and sustainability or waste reduction.

How to Determine Your Objectives

Management by objectives is a relatively simple concept. Certain factors need to get considered to determine specific goals for a given period.

The factors that need consideration to set goals for a given period include the following.

Stakeholder Expectations

The organization’s stakeholders are the people, groups, and other organizations that affect or are affected by the organization’s activities. A stakeholder’s expectations will directly influence the goals that get set for the organization.

For example, stakeholder expectations can focus on financial performance, product quality, time to market, and a whole range of objectives that directly affect the organization and its stakeholders.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Business

The strengths and weaknesses of the business should get considered when creating goals. The strengths and weaknesses of a business are often complicated and can include many factors.

Strengths and weaknesses can be internal or external to the business. Internal strengths and weaknesses are usually controlled by the organization, while external strengths and weaknesses are often controlled by the industry or competition.

Utilizing the organization’s strengths and weaknesses helps to ensure that the organization can meet the needs of its stakeholders. By identifying the shortcomings of the organization, it’s possible to determine areas where improvement is vital.

Opportunities and Risks

A business can best identify its opportunities and risks by reviewing its strengths and weaknesses. For example, if an organization has a great deal of customer loyalty, it should take advantage of its position and create business opportunities that can improve business processes.

If there is a great deal of customer turnover within the organization’s industry, the business should review past events and look for patterns to help identify the cause.

Organization’s Mission

The organization’s mission statement can get used to create goals that are in line with the organization’s vision and overall purpose. For example, if an organization’s mission is to create a positive difference in the world, the goals should help to drive the organization towards this end.

You can also use the mission statement to help identify risks that might harm the organization. For example, if an organization’s mission is to protect the environment, any risks that are harmful to the environment should get identified. In this way, you can avoid risks before they cause harm to the organization.

Financial Position

The organization’s financial position should also get considered when developing goals. For example, if the organization was recently put into chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the goals you create might focus on helping the organization to regain its financial position.

If the organization is not financially stable, it could be at risk if market trends change and business opportunities are limited. Goals can get created to help to ensure that the organization’s financial stability is protected.

Make Your Business Objectives SMART

A good business objective should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time(or time-bound). Objectives should be easily measured with objective statements that are phrased positively and can have measures of success that are quantifiable.

How to Make Your Objectives Specific

Your objective should be specific to a product, service, or a particular customer segment. For example, if your objective is customer-centric, make it specific to one segment, product, or service.

It should also be specific to a geographic region or area. For example, if your objective is to increase the customer satisfaction level in California, it should be specific to the geographic area of California.

How to Make Your Objectives Measurable

If you want to achieve your objective, you’ll need to know how you are going to measure your progress. Measuring your objective helps you understand the quality of your goal.

Measuring your objective helps you recognize what your success will be. Objective statements should be measurable with the help of concrete facts and numbers. If you cannot measure the objective, it’s not an objective.

For example, if you want to increase the customer satisfaction level, you may measure this by your customer’s ability to recognize your brand and recall it easily. This can be measured through a survey you conduct with your customers.

Objectives should not be too big. Keep your objectives small and measurable. If you cannot measure the objective, it’s not an objective.

How to Make Your Objectives Attainable

Objectives should be realistic, capable of being reached, and not unreachable. To know if your objective is attainable, you can use a SWOT or matrix analysis to determine whether your strategy and resources align with the objective.

The SWOT analysis will help you determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. When you set your goal, you also need to consider the amount of time you have.

For example, if you want to double your revenue within one week, that might be unrealistic if your pace of growth doesn’t match. However, if you have a steadily increasing revenue, you can calculate approximately how long it will take to double it and set a goal that is realistic and attainable.

How to Make Your Objectives Relevant

Objectives should also be important to you and your business. To determine the relevance of your objective, think about your business, market, and goals.

You will have three questions in mind:

  1. What are your goals and objectives?
  2. What is the focus of your business?
  3. What are your strengths and weakness?

If your goals and your business focus don’t align with your objectives, your objectives are not relevant. It’s a good idea to incorporate your SWOT analysis here as well.

How to Make Your Objectives Time-Bound

Your objectives should have a deadline or target date. This will help you measure and track your progress.

If you don’t set a target date for your objective, you’ll never know when you reached it, and you won’t have anything to compare your results against. You will have an objective, but you won’t have a way to measure your progress.

Step Two: Translate Objectives to Employees

Once you’ve defined your business objectives, you can move on to the next step, which is to translate the objectives to your employees. You need to make your employees understand what the objective is and what they should do to help achieve that objective.

Your employees need to know if the objectives are their objectives or your objectives. They also need to know what is expected of them and how they will be measured and rewarded. Meet with your employees and discuss with them your objectives and how they align with the overall business objectives.

How to Translate Your Objectives to Employees Clearly

Unfortunately, only 26 percent of employees feel that they have a very clear understanding of how their work translates to company goals. To achieve your goals as an organization, you need your employees to be a part of the process.

At the same time, when it comes to working objectives and your core business goals, there is a gap between what management thinks employees should do and what they actually do, which leads to low employee engagement. This is why it’s important to translate your objectives to your employees clearly.

This will ensure maximum productivity and employee satisfaction. The best way to do that is to discuss your objectives with your employees and make sure you’re on the same page. In this meeting, you can discuss the objectives and how they will be measured.

Also, discuss how the objectives and the company’s goals align. Make sure your employees know this.

If your employees understand why the objectives are important and how they relate to the company’s goals, they will be more motivated and engaged.

Start from the Top Down

Keeping your employees motivated is one of the most challenging aspects of the role of a manager. The best way to do that is to start managing your objectives and communicating those objectives from the top down.

You should start this process with your C-suite executives, then move on to your vice presidents, managers, and then eventually to your employees. You need to start with the senior management initially and then move on to other managers and employees as well.

While your senior management should be aware of the company’s goals, it’s also important that your employees have the same understanding and know why the objectives are important. By having all of your employees on the same page, you will achieve your business goals and stay competitive in your industry.

Use Performance Evaluations to Help Achieve Your Goals

Performance evaluations are not just for your employees; they’re also for you. When you evaluate your employees, you have a chance to evaluate yourself as well and see how you’re doing. This is why it’s important to have these performance evaluations every year.

In addition, incorporating objectives into your employee’s evaluations will help them see what role they play in helping the company achieve its goals. This is how you’ll keep them motivated.

When you evaluate your employees, make sure to give them clear objectives and explain how you expect them to achieve said objectives. The best way to do that is to have meetings with your employees as often as possible.

Set up meetings every month and discuss your objectives and how they will be measured. If you do this, it will increase your employee engagement and satisfaction.

How to Get Employee Buy-in for Your Objectives

You’ve created your objectives, and you’ve clearly explained them to your team and incorporated them into your evaluations; now, how do you get employee buy-in? There are a few things you can do.

Clearly Explain the Vision

The first thing you can do is clearly explain the vision and what you expect them to accomplish as a result. When you set up your objectives, you can use your executive summary to clearly describe your vision and what you want to achieve. By clearly explaining the vision, you will be able to get your employees to buy in and work harder.

Personalize Tasks

Another way you can get buy-in is by personalizing the tasks. Your employees will feel more motivated to complete their tasks when they know that these tasks are directly related to your objectives.

For instance, if you are trying to cut down operating costs, you can give your employees some tasks that show how they can cut down on costs. This can also show your employees that you value their opinions and want to allow them to be involved in the decisions.


Follow up with your employees. In order for your employees to be completely bought into your objectives, you need to follow up with them often.

Make sure to check in with them every week and see how they are doing. This kind of follow-up will help keep your employees motivated and will help them keep your objectives top of mind.

Be Flexible

Finally, be flexible with your objectives. The world of business is ever-changing, and your objectives should reflect that.

If you notice that one of your objectives is not working or if there’s a better way to complete the objective, revise it. That way, you can avoid unnecessary struggles and easily adapt to the ever-changing business world.

Rewards Can Motivate Employees

Rewarding your employees will show them that you appreciate all the hard work they are doing, and it will motivate them to keep working hard. You can use reward systems or monetary rewards, but intrinsic rewards are the most valuable.

For instance, a monetary reward might motivate your employees for a short period of time, but if you really want them to feel appreciated, you can have a weekly or monthly meeting to recognize their accomplishments.

If they know that everything they do is appreciated, they will be motivated to keep working hard.

Step Three: Monitor Performance

The next step in MBO is to monitor performance. You should measure the results of the objectives and make sure they are going towards the vision. At the end of each month, you should review how each of your objectives is progressing and how this is affecting the vision.

This will help you identify any issues with the objectives or the vision and will show you if any of the objectives are not making a difference. Using success metrics will help you:

  • Connect work to goals
  • Assess strategy efficacy
  • Make data-driven decisions
  • Identify weak points in your strategy

Many different metrics can be used to determine if a company is successful or not.

General Business Metrics

General business metrics are useful because they measure things that are quantitative. This makes it easy to assess whether or not you met your goals, and it makes it easier to set measurable goals. The following are some of the more common business metrics that are used.

Return on Investment

Return on investment is one of the most basic business metrics. It gets measured by dividing the net profit by the investment, and it shows how much money is being made on every dollar invested into a project. For example, if you invest $1,000 into a project and $100 is returned, your return on investment would be 10 percent.

Gross Profit Margin

Another basic business metric is the gross profit margin. It is the cost of goods sold divided by the revenue of the goods.

It shows what percentage of the money you earn is from the sale of the goods and services you provide. For example, if you sell a product for $100 and the cost of producing it is $50, your gross profit margin is 50 percent.


Productivity is a business metric used to determine how well a company is doing. It is measured by comparing the income of a business to the number of hours or days worked. Basically, productivity is how much money is made for every hour worked or a day spent working.

Total Number of Customers

The total number of customers is another simple business metric to measure how well your company is doing. It is the number of unique customers that have done business with your company. For example, if you have 5,000 customers, that is your total number of customers.

Marketing Metrics

Marketing metrics are used to determine how well a marketing campaign is doing. They can be used to do things like determine the ROI of an ad campaign or measure how well the marketing efforts are translating into more sales.

The following are some common industry marketing metrics.

Marketing ROI

Marketing ROI is the cost of marketing divided by the return on investment. Basically, what you do is reduce the amount of money spent on marketing by the amount earned from that marketing, and it gives you an idea of how much money your organization made from the marketing.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process of getting people interested in your product or service. For example, if you run an ad that generates 15 leads, that means people requested more information about your product or service.

Lead generation is a very important metric in the marketing industry because it helps executives know what is working in their marketing campaigns. They can then make adjustments to the campaign if it isn’t working well.

Email Open Rate

Email open rate is the number of times people open an email compared to the total number of times it was sent. For example, if you sent out 5,000 emails and you have an open rate of 10 percent, this means 500 people opened the email. If the email was opened just one time, the email open rate would be zero percent.

New and Daily Website Visits

A new visitor is a person who has visited your website at least once. A daily website visit is a visit that occurs every day.

If you have 1,000 new visitors and 1,000 daily visits, that means you have 2,000 total visits. This is a pretty simple metric to track that can help you see if you’re extending your reach.

Customer Success Metrics

Customer success metrics measure the number of customers that you have and how happy they are with your product or service. They can also be used to determine things like how many customers come back to you for repeat business.

Customer success metrics are an important part of your business because happy customers mean more money. Here are some customer success metrics to consider.

Churn Rate

The churn rate is the number of customers that you lose compared to the number of customers you started with. For example, if you have a churn rate of 5 percent, this means that 5 percent of your customer base left during the time period you measured.

The customer churn rate is an important metric to track and improve. Also, it can get used to compare customer retention rates year over year.

Customer Feedback

This metric is often qualitative; however, it can still be very helpful. Customer feedback can measure how satisfied your customers are with their experience with your company.

It can help you improve the product or service you offer, which helps you retain more customers. When you have happy customers, you make more money.

Customer Retention

Another customer success metric is customer retention. Customer retention is the number of customers that you have compared to last year.

Sales Metrics

Sales metrics get used to measure the growth of your customer base. In general, there are three main sales metrics to track.

The first is the number of leads that are generated for your products and services. The second is the number of sales made. The third is the sales revenue that you earn.

Human Resource Metrics

Human resource metrics are an important metric to track if you are in a business that has employees. The three most important human resource metrics are the employee churn rate, employee retention rate, and employee feedback.

Step Four: Evaluate Progress

The next step in MBO is to evaluate your progress. One of the best ways to evaluate progress is with performance appraisals with your employees.

Performance appraisals should get used to help employees see what they are doing well and where they could improve. However, keep in mind that negative feedback should be accompanied by a positive way to improve.

How to Give an Effective Performance Appraisal

Giving employees a performance appraisal is an excellent way to increase motivation and see where employees need to improve. It’s also a great way to see where you can step in and provide extra coaching and mentoring your employees may need. Giving an effective performance appraisal can be achieved with the following steps.

Clarify Your Expectations

Before you conduct the performance appraisal, make sure you have clear expectations for the employee.

Many times, employees are confused about what you expect of them. Help them by making sure what you expect from them is clear.

Always Give Positive Feedback

When giving a performance review, make sure to provide positive feedback. If there is negative feedback, it must be accompanied by positive feedback.

When you give people positive feedback, it makes them feel more positive and motivated to continue improving. Negative feedback without positive feedback will not only hurt morale but will also be ineffective at changing poor behaviors.

Ask Your Employee their Goals

Next, ask the employee what their goals are for the next year. Asking them this will give you a good idea of what they want to accomplish in the coming year.

Then, you will be able to use the goal to gauge how effective they are at achieving their goals. If they fall behind, you can help them by pointing them in the right direction.

Identify Barriers to Success and Solutions

Your employee might have goals that are too difficult to achieve. Help them overcome the barriers to success by offering solutions.

Don’t Be Judgmental

During the performance appraisal, be sure not to be judgmental. This will make the employee feel uncomfortable, and they won’t be able to think as clearly as they would otherwise. Make sure to give constructive feedback so your employee can benefit from the performance review.

Create an Action Plan

After the performance review, you should help the employee create an action plan to achieve their goals. This will give the employee a clear understanding of where they need to improve and what improvements need amade. It will also help with motivation, which will lead to better performance from the employee.

Follow up on Performance Appraisal

An effective performance appraisal will lead to improved employee performance. If the employee is not performing well, offer additional help to improve their performance. Or, if needed, revise goals and the action plan.

Step Five: Reward Achievements

A great way to motivate your employees is to reward them for their achievements. You can reward them for accomplishing their goals or for meeting certain metrics.

Rewarding your employees for their achievements will give them a sense of achievement, which will lead to better performance and a greater commitment to their work.

There are a number of ways to reward your employees for their achievements. Some of these include:


Promoting your employees is a great way to reward their performance. Promoting your employees will increase the number of responsibilities they have, which will lead to greater achievement.


A bonus is a great reward for your employees. It also helps show your employees that you recognize the role they play in your organization’s success.


A commission is a financial reward for your employee’s achievements. Commissions are paid out based on the employee’s performance, and it’s usually paid out after your employee achieves a goal. A commission is a great way to reward your employees for their hard work.

Intrinsic Rewards

Not every reward needs to have a monetary value. You can also use non-financial rewards to reward your employees.

This can include giving your employees a day off or letting them work from home. These rewards are commonly referred to as intrinsic rewards because they are non-monetary rewards.


A mentor is someone who will help improve an employee’s performance. They can share their knowledge and experiences and help employees improve their skills.

Implement Management by Objectives in Your Organization

Managers fill important roles in the life of a business. Whether you’re a high-level executive or CEO, your management strategies can help lead your organization to success. Management by objectives is just one potential path you can take.

Are you ready to see your organization and management skills excel? Hiring a fractional COO can help you manage your long-term strategy, research and execute business strategies, and more.

Contact Kamyar Shah today to learn how a Fractional COO can help improve your business leadership capabilities and organization.

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