What differentiates quantitative and qualitative objectives?
August 14, 2012 admin This entry was posted in Appraisals and Performance Reviews, Feedback, Grapevine, Improving Performance, Measuring performance, Objectives, Performance Management, Poor performance, SMART Goals, SMART Objectives, SMART targets and tagged How to Write Objectives, Qualitative Objectives, Quantitative objectives, smart goals, SMART Objectives. Bookmark the permalink.
Here is a question from a Grapevine reader.
I have a question that I feel sure you can help me with and which has troubled me on and off for years. Sometimes I feel that I have squared it away and at other times it comes back with more blurred contours. The question is what differentiates a quantitative and a qualitative objective?
This is indeed a difficult one.
Qualitative vs Quantitative objectives
In my view “quantitative” refers to how much / many of something is produced or achieved. The easiest examples would be:
Produce 1000 widgets by 1st July
Get £30k worth of orders by 1st July
These are generally perceived as being easy to write.
These are also ‘easy’ to measure, as we all know.
Sometimes people think of these as objectives that are measured by getting feedback from others. I am always concerned when people cite measures for objectives as being “feedback from _______”.
It’s about standards
Qualitative objectives are about the standards that need to be met. So they could be things like:
- Ensure all widgets that leave the production line meet the company quality standards.
- Ensure every member of my team has SMART objectives
- Ensure the database is accurate and up to date by the end of every day
- Ensure all customer queries are resolved within 24 hours
An interesting point here that I came across when working with a large number of admin people at a conference was that they wanted a way to differentiate between the junior and senior administrators.
The objectives were similar but there was a difference
It turned out that the objectives were very similar for both groups; the differentiation lay in the quantity. A junior person may book 10 flights a year; a senior person would be doing that many a week or even a day. This showed more efficient and much faster working (whilst still maintaining the quality).
In the case of HR, the objectives are quite tricky. You cannot make people meet the required standards because you are not their manager. You can only provide them with the tools to do it.
So an HR person might have an objective:
Ensure everyone has access to material that enables them to write SMART objectives.
If you are going to use feedback as a measure
When you ask for ‘feedback’ on this objective, you need to ask:
Did the material/training course you had enable you to write SMART objectives? If so, how? If not, what else do you need to help you?
How does differentiating these two types of objectives help?
Lastly I’m not sure there is much point in differentiating between these two kinds of objectives. How does it help?
The important thing is the measure
As long as you can measure the objective, it doesn’t matter if it is ‘quantitative’ or ‘qualitative’ in my view.