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Just like any other management function, objectives have certain basic features. Generally speaking, enterprise objectives are visible and understood by all. They provide undeniable evidence of how well the man with the gun has performed. When objectives are defined and set, it is hard to plead ignorance, forgetfulness and misunderstanding. Apart from these simple descriptions, enterprise objectives have the following features:

  1. 1.                 Objectives Form a Hierarchy 

In many organizations objectives are structured in a hierarchy of importance. There are objectives within objectives. They all require painstaking definition 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 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. Usually the hierarchy or objectives in an organization is described through means-ends chain. Understanding the means ends chain helps us to see how broad goals are translated into operational objectives. In the organization the relationship between means and ends in hierarchical goals established at one level require certain means for their accomplishment. These means then become the sub-goals for the next level, and more specific operational objectives are developed as we move down the hierarchy.

  1. 2.                 Objectives Form a Network 

Objectives interlock in a network fashion. They are inter-related and interdependent. 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. Because, 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.”

  1. 3.                 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 the 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 problems may hover around profitability, survival, growth, and so on. External problems may be posed by government, 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 organization on a path of prosperity and progress in the long run. According to Ducker, “To emphasize profit, for instance, misdirects managers to the point where they may endanger the survival of the business. To obtain profit today they tend to undermine the future.” Where several goals are involved, maximizing one goal would usually be at the cost of another. Managers have to see that various goals exist is harmony and for this purpose they must assign a definite priority of 1, 2 or 3 depending on the importance of each objective. Such assignment of priorities helps to keep a perspective, especially when there are many goals for one position.

  1. 4.                 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 frame work 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 effects 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.