What is the difference between objectives and KPIs?

A Grapevine reader sent in a question asking what the difference is between objectives, goals (or aims) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is.


This is a common question, so here is an answer for you, in case have been wondering.



Objectives are what you need to achieve.



Car speedometer

KPIs are like your car speedometer or fuel gauge

KPIs are the measures that tell you if you are on the way to achieving your objective or not. They are indicators and they give you an indication of what is going on.  


You can think of them as being like your fuel gauge or speedometer in your car.


Key Performance Indicators are just a form of feedback. Don’t be confused or put off by the words. Feedback is just factual information about what you said or did that enables you to make decisions about what to do next.



A sales objective

Your sales objective might be:
$100,000 of sales by December.


Some KPIs could be:

  • Invoice size
  • Number of orders
  • Churn rate (how many customers you lose and gain over a period of time).
  • Average order size
  • Number of repeat orders from a particular client


If you think about it, none of them on their own will tell you if you have achieved your objective on their own. The average order size may have increased, but if you are getting fewer orders, this many not give you the sales you need. You may be getting some repeat orders, but they may be very small orders, or not very many orders.


The important thing is to choose measures that are relevant to your objectives and check that they really are telling you what you think they are telling you.


The purpose of the KPI is to provide you with information that helps you to work out how to achieve your objectives.


It’s easy to choose the wrong KPIs

Imagine you need to be at a meeting by 3pm and you are 30 miles away. You have cut things a bit fine. One useful indicator might be your speed of travel. However, if you are heading in the wrong direction, this is not very useful to you. You need the direction too.


So make sure you test that you are getting the information you need before you start relying on it.


What is the difference between Objectives, Goals, Targets and Aims?

Objectives, goals and targets are much the same thing and often used interchangeably.


However, some organizations have their own definitions of each. Sometimes people use “Goal” for the top-level objectives.


Personally, I always think ‘targets’ are what you aim at, but don’t necessarily hit (certainly this applies in my limited archery and darts experience).


Aims are the other side of targets from objectives, in that they seem less precise or firm. They are what you are ‘aiming’ for, but may not achieve. So I prefer to use ‘objectives’ when I am talking about the things I need to achieve.


In summary

Make sure you have clear objective and that you have KPIs or feedback set up in order to help you to achieve them. Test that you’ve got it right before relying on it.

Remember, Key Performance Indicators are just one form of feedback. You may well need others as well.


How to write your objectives and set your goals

Getting your objective right isn’t always easy. Our handy booklet “How to Write Objectives That Work” will walk you through 55 simple tools and techniques to ensure that you get your objectives right. It’s short and to the point so you can quickly find the help you need. And of course we’ll show you just what to do with those really difficult objectives that people struggle with.


You’ll discover:

  • The key steps to take to write any objective
  • 7 key words and phrases you must avoid when writing objectives and what to do instead
  • How to make your objectives SMART


And much more.  Get “How to Write Objectives That Work” now


Getting feedback right can be hard


Feedback makes more difference to performance than anything else. You can make drastic improvements to the performance of your team just by making sure they are getting the feedback they need. But feedback done badly actually reduces performance.


“Feedback for the Faint-Hearted” simple, step-by-step guide will take you through the tools and techniques you need in order to give feedback that really does make a difference in a way that is a lot easier than you think.


You will discover:

How to give feedback without causing office or awkward situations
The three key things you need to get across when giving feedback
What feedback really is


Get “Feedback for the Faint-Hearted” now.

Are you a hoarder?

If you look around your office or desktop, is it nice and clear or is it littered with piles of

papers, letters, documents and other items that clutter it up?


This is an issue that I have come across many times when working with people on time management. With some clients I have even sat there and helped them to clear much of their desk into a large black bin-liner.


Paper, files and boxes of rubbishDecision-making

In my experience, the problem you often have here is not being able to decide what to do with all the ‘stuff’. You are often frightened that you will throw out something that you will later need so you delay the decision.


I recently heard a podcast from the Scientific American  on exactly this topic and it turns out that people who hoard are not the same as those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD (as was previously thought).


Scientists studied the brain activity of hoarders and now think it is a reluctance to make a decision.


Personally, I’d say it was more an inability to make the decision. I say this because when you learn how to do it, it’s easy.


How to get rid of all that stuff

So, if you are one of those people, or know someone who is, here’s what to do.


There are just four actions to take on any material that comes your way in the form of paper, email or other communication (you’ll know this if you’ve read any David Allen):

•    Bin it (the recycling bin, of course)
•    Delegate it to someone else
•    File it
•    Action it (or put it into your diary for action)


Sadly, most of it should go in the bin (I say sadly because of the sheer waste of paper).


What if you can’t decide to bin it because you are worried you will need it some time in the future?


Here’s a little trick that has worked for many of my clients

Put all the stuff from each month in its own box or bag. Label it with the month and put it out of sight in a cupboard. Put a note in your diary for six months’ time to ask yourself if you needed any of the material in that bag/box.


If you didn’t need any of it you can bin it with confidence. (If you are still unsure, leave it another 3 months.)


Time Management Made Easy

Time management can be difficult and what works for someone else often won’t work for you or may not feel right. That’s why I wrote “Time Management Made Easy”.


In this handy little booklet you will find 124 tips and techniques to make your life easier and to give yourself more time.


Of course I will also tell you how to deal with others who waste your time and constantly interrupt you. (Yes, there is a way.)


In this booklet you will discover

•    How to deal with unreliable people
•    How to say “No” without saying “No” (yes it really works and it’s so much easier than trying to say no if you find that hard)
•    How to make concentrating on tasks you don’t like easier

And much more


Get “Time Management Made Easy” now.


Time Management Teleseminar Recording


If you want to get more advice on this, get our teleseminar recording on Time Management.


In it you will discover

  • What to do when you have too much to do and not enough time 
  • How to plan effectively 
  • How to save time in meetings 
  • How to get long term continuous improvement

And much more. Get the Time Management Teleseminar Recording now

Coincidence or bad management?

I remember seeing a film years’ ago (it may even be a ‘Carry On’ film) about some firemen.
 At the end of the film the chief fireman has worked out the problem. He says (as accurately as I can remember it): “Fireman late for a fire once; unlucky. Fireman late for a fire twice; coincidence. But fireman EARLY for a fire….”


Clearly you don’t expect the fire brigade to turn up before a fire starts. You expect them to respond to an alarm being raised once it has begun. It transpired that the fireman he was speaking to had been starting the fires to keep them all busy.


Do you believe in coincidence?

Over the years I have come across all kinds of management issues. Here’s a situation that made my hair stand on end. A manager, who we’ll call Andrew, was consulting me about one of his team leaders. We’ll call the team leader Tom. Tom had had five people working for him. There had been complaints or problems with four of them. Andrew asked me if I thought that was significant.


I could hardly believe my ears. Of course this was just as much a comment on that Andrews’s own level of skills as on the skill of the team leader.


In another company I was working on a case of bullying by one of the managers in a department of about 100 people. Then I discovered, quite by accident that another employee had taken out a grievance about a different manager in that same department for bullying that had been going on for years.


In my experience, if two people have had the courage to make complaints about this kind of behaviour in the same department it is likely that there is more going on. It is also almost certain that the manager in charge of the department not managing that side of things effectively.


Recognising patterns

These things don’t happen by coincidence. They almost always happen for two reasons:

Lack of skill on the part of the manager

A system that does not ensure the issues are resolved and probably encourages this kind of behaviour

Two examples of this behaviour tell you that you probably have a pattern of abuse. At the

Bullying could be endemic

Bullying could be endemic

very least you need to investigate. You need to find out if that is the case or not. Sadly, in the company I am describing, no one thought that an investigation was necessary.

In another organisation where they did investigate, they did it so badly that it was a complete failure.


Ask the right questions

With the best of intentions, people go blundering in asking questions like:

“Are you being bullied?”

Here are two problems with this question:

Some people are too frightened to say they are being bullied

Some people are so used to being treated badly that they don’t realise they are being bullied

A more effective way is to take specific examples of situations where bullying is likely or you suspect it has taken place. It’s often astoundingly easy to get the information you need when you ask the right questions.


I was asked to work with a woman who had been accused of bullying. She flatly denied it. I asked her about the kinds of issues she had with people in her team when they were not performing. She ran a very prestigious restaurant area.

It was things like taking too long to give customers their meals, so the meals were cold, or giving the wrong meal to a customer.  

I asked her to tell me how she had dealt with the last such incident, using questions like:

“What happened?”


“What did you do?”

“Well, you just have to f***ing tell them, don’t you?” She informed me. And then, shouting at an imaginary transgressor in the room with us, she swore abusively and called the individual all kinds of names. It was one of the clearest cases of bullying I had ever come across. Yet I was told it was: “too hard to investigate because there were no witnesses who were prepared to speak.”


On talking to members of the team I heard almost identical stories.


No one realised this was bullying


In this case, none of the team realised there was bullying going on. The only way it came to light was because a new person joined the team. The woman had had many managers over the years, not one had spotted any problems. There had been issues, but they had never investigated at all. They had always told the woman she was doing a great job. She had no idea that there was a better way of managing her team. Strangely, she was just as much a victim as the rest of them.

Always check if there is a pattern

You don’t have to launch a government enquiry, just ask a few questions. If there is a problem, it’s important to find out about it and deal with it effectively.


Never ignore it.


Questions Made Easy

Asking the right question can be tricky. That’s why I wrote this handy little booklet “Questions Made Easy”. In it you will find my 21 favourite questions (and quite a few more besides) that will work in most situations.

And of course there are some notes on what not to ask and what to ask instead.
In “Questions Made Easy” you will find questions for:

  • Persuading others
  • Specific difficult situations
  • Coaching
  • And much, much more.

Get “Questions Made Easy” now.


How to Deal with Bullies at Work

If you are being bullied, or think someone else is, you’ll find help and advice in “How to Deal with Bullies at Work”.

Bullying can make your life unbearable, but it can be dealt with. In this downloadable book, you will discover:

  • The behaviours that allow others to bully you and what to do about them
  • What happens in your head when you are being bullied and what do to about it
  • How to change your thinking so you can deal with them


And much more. Get “How to Deal with Bullies at Work” now.

The trouble with chocolate

The trouble with chocolate



Eating chocolate can reduce your chances of having a stroke by 17%. I confess that I love

Tempting Chocolate

Tempting Chocolate

chocolate. I have been known to go to great trouble to get particularly good chocolate. So you can imagine my great pleasure to be woken last week to this news.


Unfortunately, hot on the heels of this happy discovery came the prophet of doom in the shape of an article in the New Scientist (1st September edition) that details the rather depressing link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.


It turns out that fatty foods probably increase your chance, not only of putting on weight and getting diabetes, but also of damaging your brain.


It’s not all bad news about chocolate


I felt more and more depressed as I read the article, till I found a little insert with some positive news. It turns out that there is some “tentative evidence” that flavenoids (a range of chemical compounds often responsible for the bright colours of plants) can reduce your risk of getting dementia. Dark chocolate, apples, apricots, pears, black beans, cabbage, onions pinto beans, tea, tomatoes and red wine all contain flavenoids.  


What a relief. So now I’m moving to the dark side, at least on the chocolate front. Along with some red wine.


Look after your brain


There is other advice in the article, which, if you’ve been reading these blogs for a while, won’t come as a surprise to you. Exercise. It’s good for your brain. It can reduce your chances of dementia.


Many years ago I went to a neuroscience conference and three of the lectures included evidence about how good aerobic exercise is for your brain.


Here’s a brief summary of why:

  • It increases the blood supply to your brain by encouraging you to grow new capillaries.
  • It increases the flow of the fuel (glucose) to your brain needs.
  • It helps to carry away waste products.


Most of all it increases the release of neurotropic factors, described by one neuroscientist, John Ratey, as “brain fertiliser”. This chemical helps you to grow new brain cells (something that we can all do with).


It’s twice as good as anything else for your brain (including last minute revision – it’s better to do a 20 minute run just before your exam than to work through your notes).


It’s true


When I got back from the conference I decided to take up jogging. But my enthusiasm didn’t last long and with every day I managed to find an excuse to delay the start of my new regime.


However, when I spoke to an old friend of mine who had recently taken up running I suddenly felt much more motivated. “Since I’ve been running I don’t get stressed any more and my memory has really improved.” She told me, completely unprompted.


That afternoon I rescued my old trainers from the back of the wardrobe and was out on the road. It took a week before I could even keep running for an entire minute. At first it was a real chore. Now, several years later, I don’t mind it. I can certainly say that my head it much clearer after a run than before. And I do enjoy a small sense of smugness.
But most of all, I feel able to have a small amount of chocolate (dark of course) every now and then.

The chocolates in the picture are “Salted Caramel” from the Rabot Estate, Cacao Grower & Chocolatier, Saint Lucia, West Indies. There are none left now, I ate them all.


Boost Your Brain in Your Spare Time

It’s not always obvious what you can do to improve your brain. Our handy booklet Boost Your Brain In Your Spare Time will walk you through 157 simple techniques to improve your brain without a great deal of effort. It’s short and to the point so you can quickly get ideas to boost your grey matter. And of course we’ll show you just what to stop doing so you don’t damage your brain.  

You’ll discover:

  • The five key ways to look after your brain and improve it
  • Eight specific intelligence areas to focus on with a page of tips for each area
  • What to eat to improve your brain
  • What you might be doing that’s damaging your brain
  • How to improve the way you learn
  • How to improve your memory

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