Friday, January 30, 2009

Focusing the Organization

Someone asked me recently “What are the three things you did with RegOnline internally that enabled it to be so successful?”
I said:
1. Keeping things simple
2. Focusing on constantly making it easier for prospects and customers (see my last post)
3. Setting goals for each department each quarter (which is the topic of this post)

The quarterly goals for each department usually met these requirements (in this order of priority):
1. Would have a significant impact for the company that didn’t exist before
2. Clearly achievable within the quarter (agile philosophy)
3. Directly impacted by that department’s actions
4. Limited to just ONE #1 priority (and no more than 3 priorities total)

Some examples:
Marketing: #1 on Google for 3 new keywords
Support: 100 unsolicited “WOW” remarks from clients about our level of service
Sales: increase our conversion rate off of live demos by 20%
Development: reduce the number of reported bugs by 30%
Accounting: reduce the number of billing-related support calls by 20%
HR: produce a recruitment video

Short, sweet, focused, achievable. Having just ONE thing to take it to the next level each quarter made it easier and more fun and rewarding for our team to achieve each quarter. We did tie a quarterly cash bonus to hitting team or individual goals. It ranged over time between $250-$500. Not a lot of money, but enough to make it interesting.

Interestingly enough, I don’t think we ever focused on any goals beyond a quarter, and it was NEVER tied to revenue or profit projections. Ok not totally true, the first year we took the entire company to Mexico, we tied it to doubling profit for the year. But, we subsequently decided to take everyone regardless of whether we hit our growth projections.

To be clear, I think it’s a HORRIBLE idea to set goals longer than a quarter or tie people to financial goals that really are not under their specific, direct control. I DO believe in having longer term INTENTS like:
“Support that is the best our customers have ever received from any company”
“Marketing that is so effective other marketers constantly copy us”
“A product that is so easy to use, you don’t need support”