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9 Min Read

Setting Strong Objectives for Managers

Nicole Klemp

You’d be hard-pressed to find an HR thought leader who doesn’t believe having great mid-level managers is one of the biggest—if not the biggest—indicators of a high-performing team.

If training and setting objectives for managers isn’t one of your organization’s top priorities, it probably should be. Consider these stats:

  • 60% of HR leaders say “leader and manager effectiveness” is their #1 priority in 2023, according to Gartner.
  • 65% of managers feel underprepared and struggle to perform in their roles.
  • 56% of employees say that having a good boss is one of the most critical factors for remaining at their company.
  • 64% of managers are “highly confident” in their leadership abilities, while only 37% of employees are impressed with their boss’s management skills.

The data is pretty clear that having good managers is vital to business success. But what do objectives have to do with it? And how do you know what the right objectives for managers are?

John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” From first-time managers to veteran executives, effective leadership requires continuous learning and stretch goals that promote personal and professional growth.

What are objectives for managers (and how do they help)?

Objectives for managers are the specific, measurable, and achievable targets that guide their actions and responsibilities within an organization. These objectives play a crucial role in the overall success of a manager’s role and the organization as a whole.

A big part of a manager’s job is helping their team and its members achieve their goals. But don’t forget that managers need support and direction too! 

Managers should indeed focus on their team members’ well-being and ensure everyone is doing their part to meet organizational goals. But outside of team-level and company-level objectives, managers should also have clearly defined personal and professional objectives to help them become more effective leaders. 

Manager effectiveness is almost always directly correlated to team success. The managers who get the professional development they need and work on their own leadership goals are also the ones leading high-performing teams. (Performance can be contagious in that way.) 

Types of managerial objectives

Personal professional development

The specific personal objectives a manager should have are just that—personal. Just as every individual employee has different strengths and growth areas, so do managers. The key is understanding what a successful manager looks like in your organization and discovering what each manager needs to do to achieve that ideal.

Personal professional development objectives for managers are individualized goals aimed at enhancing a manager’s leadership and personal skills. These objectives focus on improving competencies such as communication, conflict resolution, and leadership abilities. They are designed to help managers excel in their roles, whether they are new to management or looking to deepen their expertise in a specific industry or function.

Business growth objectives

Business growth objectives for managers are centered on driving the expansion and success of an organization. These objectives can include specific targets related to revenue generation, market share, or cost reduction. Managers with business growth objectives are responsible for developing strategies and leading teams to achieve these goals, contributing directly to the company’s financial success.

Employee development objectives

Employee development objectives for managers are focused on fostering a positive work environment and improving the performance and satisfaction of team members. These objectives may involve enhancing team skills, increasing employee engagement and satisfaction, and conducting regular performance appraisals and feedback sessions to aid in the professional growth of the staff.

Recruitment objectives

Recruitment objectives for managers involve the process of acquiring top talent to meet the organization’s staffing needs. These objectives encompass defining recruitment strategies, participating in candidate interviews, and ensuring the team is staffed with qualified individuals. Additionally, they may include goals related to diversity and inclusion, with an aim to create a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as objectives for successfully onboarding and integrating new employees into the team and company culture.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

There are many different processes and methodologies out there for setting goals. The method your organization chooses is a matter of preference and what fits your organization best. What matters most is that you have a proven system in place because you don’t want to leave goal-setting up to chance. 

15Five uses and recommends the OKR system for goal setting at all levels of an organization. The Big O—Objectives—represents the goals of the organization, teams, and individuals (including managers). KR—Key Results—provide the metrics to gauge performance toward those goals. 

OKRs help align and motivate teams and individuals to reach personal and professional goals. They describe what an individual (or team or organization) wants to achieve and what success toward that goal looks like. OKRs offer a way to formalize job performance goals for managers and document an action plan to achieve them.

Examples of Manager Objectives

 From fostering diversity and inclusion to enhancing operational efficiency, a manager’s goals can span a wide spectrum. In this section of the blog, we’ll explore various types of manager objectives through practical examples, shedding light on how these objectives can be structured using the popular OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework.

Personal professional development objective examples

Objective: Improve Industry Knowledge

  • Key Result 1: Complete 3 industry-related online courses or workshops.
  • Key Result 2: Write and publish 5 industry-focused articles or reports.
  • Key Result 3: Attend at least 2 industry conferences or seminars.

Objective: Network with managers from other companies

  • Key Result 1: Attend 3 industry-specific networking events or conferences and make at least 10 new connections.
  • Key Result 2: Host a monthly cross-company peer learning session with at least 2 guest speakers.
  • Key Result 3: Collaborate on a joint project with a manager from another company to gain new insights or solve a common problem.

Business growth objective examples

Objective: Reduce the cost of resources

  • Key Result 1: Decrease overall resource costs by 10% within the quarter by identifying and implementing cost-saving measures.
  • Key Result 2: Conduct a thorough resource audit, identifying areas with the highest costs and creating specific cost-reduction plans for each area.
  • Key Result 3: Monitor and report on resource cost reductions on a monthly basis.

Objective: Improve quality standards

  • Key Result 1: Develop and implement a quality improvement program, resulting in a 15% decrease in defects or errors reported by customers.
  • Key Result 2: Conduct regular quality audits and achieve a 95% compliance rate with established quality standards.
  • Key Result 3: Implement a training program for team members to enhance their skills and knowledge, resulting in a 10% increase in the quality of work produced.

Employee development objective examples

Objective: Improve employee retention

  • Key Result 1: Implement a feedback system that allows employees to voice concerns and suggestions, aiming to address at least 80% of the concerns raised.
  • Key Result 2: Provide career development plans to at least 90% of employees, aiming to retain and develop top talent.
  • Key Result 3: Conduct exit interviews and analyze the feedback to identify trends and implement retention strategies, aiming for a 10% increase in employee retention over the quarter.

Objective: Implement Peer Mentoring Programs

  • Key Result 1: Establish a peer mentoring program where at least 80% of team members participate as either mentors or mentees.
  • Key Result 2: Evaluate the effectiveness of the mentoring program through feedback and surveys, aiming for an average satisfaction rating of 4 out of 5.
  • Key Result 3: Measure the impact of peer mentoring on skill development and career progression, aiming for a 15% increase in mentees’ skills and advancement.

Recruitment objective examples

Objective: Network with prospective talent

  • Key Result 1: Attend at least two industry-specific conferences or networking events per quarter, with a goal of establishing connections with 20 prospective candidates.
  • Key Result 2: Actively engage on professional social networks, such as LinkedIn, by sending connection requests and initiating conversations with at least 50 prospective talent within the quarter.
  • Key Result 3: Schedule and conduct informational interviews with at least 10 high-potential candidates to assess their skills and potential fit within the organization.

Objective: Increase efficiency of onboarding

  • Key Result 1: Streamline the onboarding process, reducing the average time from a new hire’s start date to full productivity by 20% within the quarter.
  • Key Result 2: Develop an onboarding feedback survey for new hires and achieve a minimum satisfaction rating of 4 out of 5 on average.
  • Key Result 3: Implement training sessions for managers and team leads on effective onboarding practices to ensure a smooth transition for new employees, with a goal of reducing turnover among new hires by 15% within the quarter.

Management training and coaching

Effective managers are able to motivate and enable their direct reports to perform at a high level and reach their full potential. They can have a lasting impact on a team and organization. 

But this doesn’t happen by accident. 

To say someone is a “born leader” is selling them short. Sure, some people are born with certain traits that lend well to leadership, but most great leaders become who they are through personal learning and growth. 

But not all managers are getting the development they need. 

When surveying managers and employees for our 2023 Manager Effectiveness Report, we found that managers are desperate for more training and development—and employees want their managers to get it. (We also found that over 76% of candidates for open manager roles are more likely to accept a position when management training or coaching is offered.)

With a formalized management development training program (and a goal-setting framework like OKRs), managers can establish their objectives and identify the training they need to become better leaders. 

As Kathi Enderes, VP of Research at the Josh Bersin Company, said, “Developing the types of leadership capabilities needed for today’s work world takes more than traditional training. Coaching, practice, and ongoing feedback are required in order to make sustained change, and most companies have found this type of development to be prohibitively expensive. Solutions like 15Five Transform can help companies foster these next-generation leadership capabilities in a scalable and efficient way.” 

Learn more in 15Five’s Manager Effectiveness Report 

We surveyed 1,000 managers and 1,000 employees across the U.S. on productivity tracking, manager effectiveness and training, career growth, and professional development. See what our study uncovered about how employees and managers (really) feel about training, development, and goal setting.

Get the report >