Writing Objectives : How to use some ‘reverse thinking’

writing objectivesWriting Objectives – Why bother?

The purpose of writing objectives (and then agreeing those performance objectives with staff) can be an uphill battle for many managers. So why bother? Well, research consistently demonstrates that staff members who know what is expected of them are both more productive and have higher levels of job satisfaction than those who don’t. Clarity – about what our specific contribution to the organisation needs to be and why our contribution is important – is highly motivational and leads to improved performance. Makes sense? So, how do we help the managers in our business write objectives?

Here’s one technique you can use to write objectives. It’s based on the ‘spooky but true’ principle that it’s often easier to describe what you don’t want rather than what you do want

What you might call ‘reverse thinking’. Here’s how it works (and how you could describe it to the managers in your business)

 Writing Objectives Using Reverse Thinking


Describe what you don’t want

· What would this look like done really badly?

· What would other people be saying about them, if they were doing this badly?

· What don’t I want to see?

An example

Imagine we are aiming to describe to our staff what we mean by ‘open to change’ Here’s what I would expect to see if my staff member was not open to change;

Open to Change (the reverse)

· Doesn’t demonstrate any interest in proposed changes

· Doesn’t plan to incorporate changes

· Doesn’t try out new things

· Doesn’t give feedback on the changes

· Gives in as soon as there are any difficulties implementing change


Of course you then need to reverse the description!

An example

Performance objective – Open to Change

· Seek information on the proposed changes

· Plan to incorporate the change

· Actively seek to experiment with changes

· Objectively evaluates changes and gives feedback

· Seeks to overcome any difficulties implementing change

· Helps others to come to terms with change

So, a quick and easy way to describe what you do want – by firstly describing what you don’t!

Writing Objectives : Do you need help?

In my video ‘Motivating Your Staff with Powerful Performance Objectives‘ I train managers in a number of techniques for writing objectives and how to gain their staff’s commitment to achieving those objectives. Even better the video comes with a bonus e-book ‘The Managers Toolkit: 176 Behavioural Performance Objectives and How to Use Them’ – more than 176 objectives that managers can cut, paste, edit and begin using immediately to improve staff motivation and performance. Take a look at the video details HERE

Or why not take a look at my e-book ‘Motivating Your Staff with Powerful Performance Objectives’ – a step-by-step guide for managers, team leaders and supervisors who want to motivate their staff to high performance. More details HERE



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