An action verb, also known as a dynamic verb, is a verb that expresses a mental or physical action. This is the opposite of a stative verb that expresses a passive state such as "know", "believe" or "regret." Action verbs are commonly used in business to express strategy, goals, objectives, job descriptions and to report business progress. They are also commonly used in resumes, performance reviews and presentations to communicate accomplishments. The following are commonly used action verbs for business followed by several examples.
Goals are the targets of a business, organizational unit, team or individual. These are often specified with present tense action verbs. For example:Increase revenue by 30%.Reduce environmental impact to close to zero.Increase customer satisfaction to 80%.Gain market share of 50%.Achieve brand recognition of 90% of target market.Strategies are plans to achieve goals. These are also stated with present tense action verbs.Develop a sales partnership in Germany to expand distribution and grow sales by 10%.Reduce overhead cost by 3% by retiring legacy systems.Scale production to 1 million units a month to achieve monthly revenue of $40 million.Recruit and develop design talent to improve client satisfaction to 70%.Promote the brand to improve brand recognition to 40% of target market.
Objectives are milestones in the achievement of strategy. For example, a project to develop and launch a new bicycle helmet product may have the following objectives.Research composite materials to select an inexpensive material that meets weight and safety criteria.Design and engineer prototype helmets.Test helmets in the safety lab.Consult lead users and market research teams to select designs.Implement manufacturing process for helmets.Launch helmets on ecommerce channel.Gain market share with promotional pricing.
Performance objectives are targets for the performance of an individual contributor. These are derived from business objectives. For example, a salesperson may have the following performance objectives for a quarter.Hit quarterly sales quota of $4 million.Achieve a win rate of at least 40%.Negotiate to obtain average gross margin of 38% for deals closed.Sustain and grow relationships with customers to reduce churn to less than 4% for assigned accounts.Lead sales teams and coach team members.
Performance self-assessments and reviews often use past tense action verbs.Closed sales of $4.2 million exceeding quota.Negotiated attractive margins of 44%.Designed projects to client requirements achieving client satisfaction of 93% for assigned projects.Reduced license costs by $400,000 per year by retiring the billing system.Resolved performance issues on the transactional banking site to improve average page load time to 3 seconds.
Job DescriptionsIt is common to specify job descriptions with action verbs. These are typically broad missions without specific targets.Connect with senior stakeholders across the company to build support for strategy.Formulate requirements to represent business unit with technology teams.Secure funding by developing and pitching business plans to senior management.Inspect elevator equipment to identify maintenance and safety issues.Measure and report efficiency of the end-to-end production process.
ResumesResumes state accomplishments in previous roles using past tense action verbs. These may be specific examples of things you achieved in a role or aggregate achievements that span multiple initiatives.Launched 3 innovative products that generated revenue of $5 million per quarter.Sustained and grew relationships with customers to increase customer lifetime value by 40%.Introduced controls that reduced defects by 5%.Managed a total of 14 large and midsized projects over three years with all 14 successfully launched.Tested complex system projects in a timely and diligent manner.Communications and reporting may use action verbs to indicate progress, promote successes and sell strategy.Monthly revenue increased by 13% due primarily to our expansion into the Chinese market.Developed and launched 10 security improvements to the core product.Investigated and fixed the root cause of the quality control problem with our chicken nugget product. This had caused more than 100 customer complaints and was a significant source of customer dissatisfaction.Tested 64 flavors of ice cream and identified 7 flavors that scored higher than 95% satisfaction amoungst representatives of the target market.Reduced mean time to repair by 78% to 13 minutes.Presentations of fact and storytelling both make heavy use of action verbs as they keep things lively.Incidents grew by 78% due to the launch of brave new products on a tight schedule.We sought out and found our most dissatisfied customer to ask them for help.When I first started people told me it was impossible.We tested the flavor with volunteers at a mall that roughly represented our target market.
NotesAn action verb is different from an active verb. The latter term is used to indicate that the subject of a sentence is the one performing an action. In all the examples above, the primary verb is both an action verb and active verb. Active verbs refer to the structure of a sentence as opposed to the verb itself. The following examples may clarify.Active VerbGermany beat Brazil in the game last night.Passive VerbBrazil was beaten in the game last night.In the case of a passive verb, the subject is acted upon. This is not particularly effective in a business context because you want to show that you are doing things and you have accomplished things as opposed to being a passive player. For example, "revenue was improved by 100%" is a poor statement for a resume as it sounds like you played no role in this improvement.Next: Business Verbs
This is the complete list of articles we have written about goals.
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