Goals vs Objectives: Why You Need Both for Business Success
Without a clear understanding of the difference between goals vs objectives, it might seem difficult to differentiate between the two. In project management, the terms ‘goal’ and ‘objective’ are often listed out at the beginning of a project.
August 29, 2018

Without a clear understanding of the difference between goals vs objectives, it might seem difficult to differentiate between the two. In project management, the terms ‘goal’ and ‘objective’ are often listed out at the beginning of a project.

Project goals are broad, yet measurable targets that team members work towards accomplishing. Without objectives, reaching goals can seem aimless. Think of objectives as the specific actions or action steps that pave the way toward accomplishing goals. Today, we will learn more about the differences between goals and objectives and how they work together to reach goals effectively.

What Is a Goal?

A goal can be described as the means towards an end result. It describes the end outcome tied to a time frame and end date. Longer term projects may have many goals, while short-term projects may have one or two.

Business goals are the 'what' the organisation or team strives to accomplish, rather than how 'how.' For example, a goal of becoming the leading company in the industry with the most market share in three years is a lofty, but desirable goal. However, it doesn't lay out a specific plan of how to get there.

What Are Objectives?

Objectives are the guiding force that leads goals to the finish line. For instance, imagine a baseball team has the goal of winning the season championship.

Objectives are more short-term in scope, but no less important than the goal itself. Objectives for winning the team championship could include:

  • Practicing three times per week for one and a half hours
  • Winning the division championship
  • Recruiting two new key players
  • Getting eight hours of sleep each night for optimal performance
  • Focusing on a healthy diet for endurance

How Do Goals and Objectives Work Together?

It's an amateur mistake for teams to create long-term goals without a business strategy and a clear, intentional plan of how to get there. Smart organisations organise goals into a thoughtful plan. Many teams leverage technology and software to streamline the goal-planning process.

For example, Samewave is social performance management software that makes tracking goals and objectives simple. Team members can create goals, objectives and specific tasks, collaborate about them in real-time and communicate progress towards goals in multiple chat streams, in real time.

Samewave also fosters accountability towards goals and objectives with Promise-Based Management and the power of Social Discipline. With Promise-Based Management, team members make commitments to one another in a transparent environment, which naturally increases accountability towards goals because everyone knows who is responsible for what, by when.

Best of all, Samewave is free. Sign up today and start learning how to streamline tracking progress towards goals and objectives and collaborating more effectively.

Develop S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Business Success

Wise companies create S.M.A.R.T. goals that are lined with meaningful objectives to reach maximum productivity. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.


The S.M.A.R.T. method helps the end goal become crystal clear for the entire project team. Being specific means it answers the 5 W's — who, what, where, when and why. They define who will do what by when — and address why the goal is important, tying team members back to the mission.


Goals and objectives are only meaningful if they can be measured. Organisations should strive to create a system or method for tracking progress towards goals and motivating team members to meet deadlines and milestones.


If you want to keep your team motivated, make sure your goals and objectives are reasonable and achievable. If your goal is out of reach or your team members don't have the resources they need to accomplish them, they can easily become de-motivated. Goals should be challenging and require your team to stretch, but they should also be attainable.


Make sure your goals (and the business objectives behind them) align with your core values, mission and organisational vision. Do your short-term goals match up with your long-term vision? Ensure you have buy-in from the entire team that goals are relevant to foster engagement and collaboration.


Just as long-term goals have a goal date that might be a year or more away, objectives should also have certain time frames along the way towards reaching the major goal. Each objective should have clear timing and constraints.

Here's an example of a business S.M.A.R.T. goal:

Specific: We will hire a new sales team before the new product launch.

Measurable: We will interview 10 candidates per month and aim to hire two sales representatives monthly.

Attainable: We will post the job descriptions on five career websites and offer a monetary incentive for internal referrals.

Relevant: Hiring a new sales team will drive the adoption of our new product and increase revenue.

Time-Based: After 12 months, we will have a talented product sales team that reaches or exceeds the financial sales goal for the following 12 months.

Keep the Big Picture in Mind

Developing the best goals and objectives that propel your business forward, not to mention sticking to the plan, can seem like a big, daunting task.

Keep it simple by following best practices and using measurable steps to track weekly, monthly and quarterly progress. Adjust your goals and objectives over time by comparing your specific targets to your actual progress.

That way, you'll know where your team is exceeding expectations and where there is room from improvement, and where precise actions can be taken to improve your plan.

Sign up today, for free.
Start capturing, discussing, measuring and reporting on your team's goals now!
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