I run a development team of around 15 developers/testers. The organisation hasn't been very objective driven in the past and it's something I would like to change. Can anyone offer any advice on how you approach setting objectives for the development team:

  1. Do you get the team to help set their own objectives aligned to the business goals?
  2. Do you set both short and long term objectives?
  3. Should objectives represent a cross section like Training Objectives and Project Objectives?


  • 1
    'Objective' is really broad. Why do you think you need to become more "objective-driven"? What problem are you hoping to solve?
    – Sarov
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 13:15
  • I infer you are talking about individual team objectives. Is that correct? Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 13:38
  • Both team and individual really. The primary goal to make the team more self aware and to bring a mindset where they are motivated to hit the next goal. I feel sometimes like professional development and even BAU is a treadmill a lot of the time and it feels like having objectives would punctuate that a bit more, it would give us a moment to reflect and say "yeah, i achieved x this month, feels good" Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


I have written about the scientific evidence on teamwork for 20 years. I like your thinking. There are pretty solid answers in the research literature:

  1. Yes. Anything you can do to give the team more control over its work is likely to improve measurable team performance and worker satisfaction.
  2. Shorter objectives are more motivating, but longer goals can be more exciting. If the team wants both, set 3-5 (max.) for the year, then sub-goals to check progress. For example, a software team could set a goal to address all legacy bugs by the end of the year. A sub-goal would be to fix or delete 25% in the first quarter (or maybe only 15%, since it will take time to establish your processes for the effort).
  3. They can cover anything the team wants to establish or improve.

Note that the most effective objectives fit the SMART format: specific, measurable, actionable (tip: start each with a verb), realistic (a stretch, but achievable) and time-bound (the next quarter, the next year). In most situations I recommend percentage improvement goals, since perfection is rarely possible: Reduce (measure) by x% by (date). Good luck.

Addition from Comments: I'm not a software expert, and I haven't read about individual performance objectives except as relates to training, so I can't make domain-specific suggestions. My sense from what I have seen in the scientific literature is that in addition to technical ones like spikey_ritchie's excellent ones, these could be learning goals on technical skills ("Learn Python well enough to complete 5 user stories on our new project") or teamwork weaknesses ("Take an 'Active Listening' class and complete an Implementation Plan.") For the latter, the person would negotiate individual goals with you or just a peer on the team who agrees to hold them accountable and confirm it was completed.

  • Thanks for your feedback Radical. It's great to hear that this is a valid pursuit. What about individual goals for software team members? I struggle a bit with this. I can think of plenty of training objectives for the team to drive them to a higher level of professional development but what other kinds of objectives usually get set for individual dev team members? Their work is so collaborative that it's hard to hang it off project delivery. Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 13:50
  • Some suggestions on developer objectives. Increase code coverage of unit tests (can be measured by jetbrains tools), ensure adherence to coding standards, Microsoft certifications, reduce some (measurable) amount of technical debt... Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 10:45
  • You're welcome, DazedAndConfused. I updated my answer. Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 14:28

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