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Defining the Difference Between Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes

Updated: Jun 7, 2021



At first glance, there seems to be no difference between goals, objectives, and outcomes. As similar as the three are there are slight differences to acknowledge. All three definitions have achievement as the end result, but have slight differences in how they are focused. By knowing the differences between the three, a job seeker, employer, or employee will have a better grasp on what they want to accomplish. It is important for a company to know their employees goals and facilitate their aspirations. It is also important for the employee to know what the outcome will be for their work. An outcome is a big factor for employees to understand, so they feel a true sense of purpose in their daily work. Knowledge of the fruit they will bear will give them a reason to push harder.


Goals “are an observable and measurable result”. Goals in essence are one or two objectives that are desired in a broader capacity. For example, a goal might be for a company to “increase profits”. Or an individual might have a goal to “be promoted”. Goals and objectives work conjointly to each other, but one is more specific than the other. Objectives are a specific result, meaning they are the steps to reach a goal. While a goal is broad, an objective is systematic and are easier to measure. An example of an objective is “researching all HR certifications and register for the exam by the end of the year.” For example, having defined objectives will help an employee to reach different milestones in their career.

Last but not least are outcomes. Outcomes by definition are the measurement and evaluation of the activities results. Outcomes are what you hope to achieve after a goal is completed. The organizations final outcome for the year could be an increase in profit by thirty-five percent. For individuals, a promotion might be the outcome of reaching previous goals and objectives.


Company’s focus their time on making sure the employee knows the goal for the year. As important as it is for workers to know what is expected of them the real focus should be the outcome of those said goals. For many organizations the first subject that is talked about is budgets. That being said, the company needs to inform their employees of the outcomes the company will receive if the goals are met. If the goals for the company are met the budget for the year will increase and in turn benefit the employee in ways they care about.


Knowledge of outcomes help better prepare the individual employee to meet their goals and in return benefit from their hard work. It is important for employees to set their own personal goals and meet them for the outcome. Leadership must inform their employees of the outcome so in turn their employees can achieve their respective goals. Goals, objectives, and outcomes play a huge role in a company’s success or failure. If a company doesn’t have goals it will unlikely be successful and the outcomes will be far less consistent. If goals are set and are completed fully, the company will continue to grow and employees feel more successful in their ability to impact the company, their colleagues, as well as their careers.


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About The Mission HR

The Mission HR is a leading partner in the PEO, HR, payroll, and benefits outsourcing marketplace. We provide a valuable service for small and medium-sized organizations and government contractors, serving as a trusted partner in integrated human resource (HR) compliance, risk management, employee benefits, employment practices liability insurance (EPLI), and payroll processing.