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How to incorrectly use ‘Management By Objectives’

How to Ensure Sub-optimization of Results via “MOB” (Management By Objectives) Rule
By Binthar Dunthat

Coming out of the technical world of ‘advanced education’, many of us were unprepared for the vagaries of ‘Management’ when such unknown functions were thrust upon us by virtue of the fact we had a sheepskin from a decent university.

Desperate, adrift in the flotsam of ‘Management Theories’ that we had never been taught in school (and had no practical inkling of regardless…), some of us were shown a thing called ‘Management By Objectives’ (hereafter referred to as MOB) by our helpful Companies. We found ourselves SAVED. MOB was a godsend: It was easy, logical, and provided the necessary illusion of control necessitated by the PROSAIC way of thinking taught to us while we were in the higher-education-machine.

Happily equipped, we skipped off to our various departments, drawing-up MOB schemes within our silos, never thinking once to look over the wall into the next cubicle to see what our sister departments, divisions, and units were doing at the same time.

It didn’t matter. After all, WE WERE NOW IN CONTROL BY VIRTUE OF THE NEW SWORD WE WERE GIVEN. At the end of the year, those of us with the most OBJECTIVES met were rewarded. Those who didn’t show a majority of OBJECTIVES completed were beaten or punished in other ways. And upper management (they were mostly non-participants in the MOB exercise) was duly rewarded regardless of the bottom line (hint: See the current financial mess, circa 2007-2010 if you have any doubt about this…).

In order to ensure continued dysfunctionality into the future, when you set objectives, take the following steps:

  • ALWAYS ensure that it is possible for SELECT INDIVIDUALS within a given group to meet THEIR INDIVIDUAL OBJECTIVES and be rewarded EVEN IF THE OVERALL OBJECTIVES of the group WERE NOT MET and a majority of the group subsequently punished for this shortcoming!
  • ALWAYS force a bell-curve fit if, for some reason, TOO MANY GROUPS meet their OBJECTIVES. THIS will ensure bad blood, reprisals, hurt feelings, and instill revenge as a key motivator in your company’s future results…
  • NEVER check, INVESTIGATE, or RATIONALIZE elements or figures to ensure your group meeting it’s objectives doesn’t automatically and naturally necessitate another PEER GROUP NOT making their objective(s).
  • NEVER check to see if the attainment of the next higher level goal can be shared amongst sister organizations in such a way that all groups contribute in a systematic manner to an overall goal, with the possibility that all groups can be winners! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE as there would be NO LOSERS, so how could it possibly work?

Can’t do these simple things with a straight face? Then take a better path: Think about how to increase ‘Unshakable Trust’, ‘The Pursuit of Truth”, and “Communication That Counts” in your organization!

Management by Objectives only works when the objectives make sense. It is a tactical management tool, not a strategic imperative!

Binthar Dunthat is a pseudonym, of course, for an individual who is keen to see MOB rule replaced by fully engaging employee development tools. “He” blew off some steam here, but is basically spot on about how most corporations miss the value of strategically-focused employee communications across silos!

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