Characteristics of Objectives

Objectives have the following features:

Objectives from a Hierarchy: In many organizations objectives are structured in a hierarchy of importance. There are objectives within objectives. They all require painstaking definitions and close analysis if they are to be useful separately and profitable as a whole. The hierarchy of objectives is a graded series in which an organization’s goals are supported by each succeeding managerial level down to the level of the individual. The objectives of each unit contribute to the objectives of the next higher unit. Each operation has a simple objective which must fit in and add to the final objective. Hence no work should be undertaken unless it contributes to the overall goal.

Objectives Form a Network: Objectives interlock in a network fashion. They are interrelated and inter-dependent. The concept of network of objectives implies that once objectives are established for every department and every individual in an organization, these subsidiary objectives should contribute to meet the basic objectives of the total organization. If the various objectives in an organization do not support one another, people may pursue goals that may be good for their own function but may be detrimental to the company as a whole. Managers have to trade off among the conflicting objectives and see that the components of the network fit one another as rightly pointed out by Koontz et al. It is bad enough when goals do not support and interlock with one another. It may be catastrophic when they interfere with one another.

Multiplicity of objectives: Organizations pursue multifarious objectives. At every level in the hierarchy goals are likely to be multiple. For example the marketing division may have the objective of sale and distribution of products. This objective can be broken down into a group of objectives for the product advertising, research, promotion managers. The advertising manager’s goals may include: designing product messages carefully, create a favorable image of the product in the market etc. Similar goals can be set for other marketing managers. To describe a single, specific goal of an organization is to say very little about it. It turns out that there are several goals involved. This may be due to the fact that the enterprise has to meet internal as well as external challenges effectively. Internal problem may hover around profitability, survival, growth and so on. External problems may be posed by governments, society, stockholders, customers etc. In order to meet the conflicting demands from various internal and external groups, organizations generally pursue multiple objectives. Moreover no single objective would place the organizations on a path of prosperity and progress in the long run.

Long and short range objectives: Organizational objectives are usually related to time. Long range objectives extending over five or more years are the ultimate or dream objectives for the organization they are abstractions of the entire hierarchy of objectives of the organization. For example planning in India has got objectives like eradication of poverty , checking population growth through birth control etc. which reflect certain ideals the government wishes to accomplish in the long run. Short range objectives (one year goals) and medium range objectives (two to four year period goals) reflect immediate attainable goals. The short range and medium range objectives are the means for achieving long term goals and the long term goals supply a framework within which the lower level goals are designed. Thus, all these goals reinforce each other in such a way that the total result is greater than the sum of the efforts taken individually. That is why goal setting is called a synergistic process. In order to remain viable, every organization needs to set goals in all three time periods.
Source: Strategic management