Defining Purpose, Goals, and Objectives

By Barry Sweeny, 2008

We cannot possibly over state the critical importance of well thought out and designed program purpose, goals and objectives. These three elements drive all that we do, and as such, they determine how effective we are all along a chain of causes and effects from the people we serve through the program, to the organization we all serve within. So … let’s be very clear what these critical elements are.

While it is true that you can use any definitions you wish in your program, we urge you to use these definitions. We do so because these definitions are the typical ones used in any grant or funding proposal. If you will ever need to write such a proposal, why not start now to ensure that your vocabulary matches the one they will expect?

1. The Program PURPOSE describes how your program will UNIQUELY contribute to the overall Mission of your organization. A purpose like that will probably be useful forever. If your program does not do this, it will not be supported long-term by organization leaders. This is an essential element because, if your program DOES what the purpose describes, your program will NEVER be cut because it will be perceived as being critical to attaining the organization’s Mission.

EXAMPLE PURPOSE – “The purpose of the XYZ mentoring program is to ensure an adequate internal supply of talented, experienced, and wise leaders at every level of the organization so that the organization has the leaders it needs to accomplish it’s Mission, compete with the best of our peer organizations, and innovate to stay ahead of our competition.”

2. Program GOALS are medium- term steps toward which we work and by which we will eventually attain the program’s purpose. By medium -term we mean that goals should aim at a desired result 3-5 years off. Necessarily, goals will not contain any activity shorter than 3-5 years.

Goals need to be measurable, because we will be held accountable to maintain progress toward them and eventually achieve them.  To be measurable a goal must be observable, and that means it must be tangible, specific, feasible, and related to a time limit. if your goals are ‘fuzzy” you will be unable to prove you are accomplishing anything of value.

EXAMPLE GOALS  – ” In order to ensure an adequate internal supply of talented, experienced, and wise leaders at every level of the organization, the XYZ mentoring program will:

1. Provide excellent, effective mentoring for every identified top performer at every organizational level by June 2014.

2. Train and support every identified top performer at every organizational level so  that, by June 2014, they are functioning as excellent, effective mentors to others who are identified as potential high performers.

3. Train and support every supervisor and manager so that, by June 2014, they are functioning as an excellent and effective mentor in their supervision of all remaining non participants in the XYZ Mentoring Program.”

3. OBJECTIVES are the smaller annual or multi-month steps we take to accomplish program goals.  Objectives need to be tangible and measurable, because you will be held accountable to maintain MONTHLY progress toward them and eventually achieve them in a limited time frame.

EXAMPLE OBJECTIVES – “Objectives for Goal Three –

A. By January 31, 2010, develop mentor roles and tasks, competencies, and mentor training curriculum which is aligned with the current Hershey and Blanchard “Situational leadership Model” the XYZ Corporation already uses to develop supervisors and managers.

B. By February 15, 2010, identify and redefine the positions for three members of the senior staff of the Training and Development Department, so they may serve as mentor trainers and eventually as Coordinators of the Management Mentoring Program.

C. By March 31, 2010, recruit and schedule about 10 each of volunteer supervisors and managers to be trained and to serve as mentors in the “Management Mentoring Program Pilot”.

D. By June 30, 2010, complete the training for the Manager Mentoring Program Pilot and certify at least 15 supervisors or managers as Mentors for that program.

E. By June 30, 2010 have recruitment, selection, and matching policies and procedures defined and approved with the HR Department for orientation, training, and mentoring of new employees.

F.By June 30, 2010, have ready a “Protege Needs Assessment” tool, and begin using it to assess the needs of identified new employees for use in mentor matching during summer 2010.

G. By July 15, 2010 begin orientation, mentoring, and training of identifies proteges in the Management Mentoring Pilot Program.

H. By September 30, 2010, have at least 2 new employees assigned and working with each of the 15 Management Mentors and receiving integrated mentoring and supervision as defined by the Management Mentoring Pilot Program.

I. By 30 days after each protege begins mentoring, conduct a mismatch check with every protege and mentor. Resolve conflicts where possible and reassign proteges when necessary.

J. By the end of every month the mentor and proteges will each submit to the program coordinators their “Mentoring Log” for the past month.

K. Every month the program coordinators will process and analyze the data from the “Logs” to monitor and assess the effectiveness of matches and mentoring, and will intervene and support mentors, proteges, or the pairs as needed to maintain continual growth and improvement as a mentoring partners by each participant.

L. By May 31, 2011 the program coordinators will conduct a summative program evaluation and submit to the manager of T & D a written report of the conclusions and recommendations regarding the effectiveness of the program pilot.