A Comprehensive Guide To Organizational Goals

Updated June 24, 2022

Setting actionable organizational goals is an important part of achieving measurable success in any industry. Establishing feasible objectives creates a clear path forward when designating workflow processes and allows leaders to accurately assess organizational progress in the long term. Even more, when internal stakeholders like employees, managers and other team members clearly understand the desired outcomes of their work, it can help drive the overall mission of an organization forward with ease. In this article, we explain what organizational goals are, why they're important and outline the two types of organizational goals with examples to help you establish your own.

What are organizational goals?

Organizational goals are the overarching targets established by organizational leaders. Leaders create organizational goals to achieve a certain level of output and success. These specific objectives are typically used to guide desirable organizational outcomes and create outlines for employee workflow.

Organizational goals may exist at many levels—goals can be set for individuals, teams or full organizations, and they typically have a specific time frame in which they are expected to be addressed. While leaders sometimes center their objectives around missions and the growth organizations need to realize such missions, organizational goals usually change as time passes and needs change.

Related: What are Business Goals? Definition, How To Set Business Goals and Examples

Why are having organizational goals important?

Establishing organizational goals is an important step toward finding success in your work processes. Not only do goals help stakeholders clearly identify an organization's purpose, but expressed objectives can help inform the day-to-day operations of an organization. When goals are specific, actionable and measurable, organizations can visualize an intelligible pathway to achievement. From here, organizations can design incremental workflow mechanisms that may help maintain employee efficiency and productivity in realizing such goals.

Having clear organizational goals from the outset can also help engage team members in their work. When employees understand the desired result of their workflow, they typically become more invested in crafting an action plan for achieving such goals. Team members may even be able to collaborate with leaders on finding workflow methods that effectively strive toward achieving a specific objective.

Setting organizational goals can also help leaders track their organization's long-term progress and identify solutions to improve processes on a daily basis. For example, when design workflow using organizational goals, they can measure aligned individual employee performance against such goals. If leaders know what employees need to accomplish in order to fulfill organizational objectives, they can more easily supervise employee's duties and provide helpful feedback whenever necessary.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

Types of organizational goals

There are a few foundational categories of organizational goals that can help guide your teams toward success. Here are the two main types of organizational goals explained:

Official goals

Official goals are those that an organization aims, or hopes, to achieve. These goals may describe an organization's attempt at achieving its mission and are often publicly announced. For example, the official goal of a media company might be to keep local communities informed and protected. This is an overarching, long-term goal that may take several years to accomplish fully through multiple approaches. Such goals, which are often qualitative and challenging to measure, help establish an organization's public image and overall reputation.

Operative goals

Operative goals are those that organizations see as requirements to achieving a desired outcome. These goals are the tangible and actionable steps that an organization can take to fulfill their overall purpose. In most cases, operative goals do not directly align with official goals, since certain situations may dictate divergent priorities. Operative goals are often short term and quantitatively measurable—organizations set these goals to ensure they can achieve necessary outcomes through day-to-day operations and policies. When designing operative goals, an organization may determine what specific processes can help them achieve specific goals and create detailed plans from there.

Related: 5 Ways To Achieve Goals in the Workplace

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Examples of organizational goals

Depending on the type of organization you serve in, the size of your organization and where your organization is located, your goals may differ. It's important to note that all organizational goals are relative and should be modified for alignment with a particular organization's mission, purpose and structure.

With this caveat, though, below are a few examples of popular real-world organizational goals to help you gain a better understanding of how such goals can guide and improve operations. Each of these examples may be considered either an official, long-term goal if it is related to an organization's mission or purpose, or an operative goal if it is a short-term intervention:

Time efficiency

Many organizations may seek to be more efficient with their time. For instance, if a car manufacturing company typically takes approximately 19 hours to build a single vehicle, they may aim to cut down on this time investment by improving specific manufacturing processes. By being more efficient with their time, the company may be able to build more cars over time, increasing their inventory and potential for sales.

Related: Management Goals: Definitions and Examples

Increased data security

With more technological innovations being implemented globally each day, an organization may make it a goal to increase their security measures. For example, if a social media company possesses a significant and growing amount of user information, they may need to alter their processes to carefully handle such information. In order to protect their users' information from future breaches, they may seek to build more robust an impenetrable data security infrastructure. This can both help their users feel safer engaging with their platform and increase the potential for profit through sustained engagement.

Improved customer support

Client-facing organizations consistently seek to improve their customer support mechanisms to ensure satisfaction. For example, if a business that sells outdoor apparel has a robust guarantee policy, they may make it a goal to provide excellent customer support to achieve higher rates of brand loyalty. In order to this, they may streamline their support processes by training and developing their employees with specific knowledge or strategies. Further, they may implement customer feedback mechanisms that help them identify potential drawbacks of their current support systems.

Related: Types of Business Goals That Drive Success

Strategic social media engagement

Since social media engagement has become an important indicator of brand success in recent years, many organizations may make it a goal to be strategic in the ways they relate to consumers through such platforms. For example, if a footwear company wants to strategize their engagement and improve the sales they gather through social media interactions, they may choose to use certain platforms that have specific buy-in-app features which lend themselves to shopping with simplicity. This may help their customers find products more easily and encourage future sales.

Increased environmental sustainability

With more attention being geared toward climate change and social responsibility, many organizations may set a goal for fostering environmental sustainability through their processes. For example, if a coffee company ordinarily sells their products using disposable plastics, like straws and to-go cups, they may seek to become more sustainable through using more eco-friendly, biodegradable materials in their products. This can help the company decrease their chances of contributing to environmental harm and establish a public reputation for sustainable practices.

Community growth and empowerment

Many organizations set goals to grow and empower the communities they are a part of. For example, if a school's enrollment is primarily composed of students from underserved families, they may establish a goal of empowering students to achieve higher results. The school may create specific, targeted programming to uplift their students and provide them with opportunities for educational mobility. Even more, they may ask neighboring communities to engage in such efforts and create partnerships to grow their school community.

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