There’s no soft squishy numbers, no best efforts – everyone has a number. If you have a sales team without a quota, you don’t have sales. It’s just as true post sales as pre sales. If managers don’t agree with that philosophy, if they’re best efforts guys – don’t hire them.
You’d be shocked how many SVPs, VPs, and C-level executives don’t really have metrics they personally have to own that are quantified. That just doesn’t work at a startup.
(1) It’s the CEO’s responsibility to make sure that every manager personally owns a meaningful metric.
(2) Owning a metric means taking complete responsibility for success in that metric. If you justify misses in your metric after the fact, you don’t own the metric — you’re “a best efforts guy”.
(3) In Seeking Alpha, “owning a metric” means taking responsibility for the success of that metric in the medium term. Every manager reports metrics monthly, but we care about medium term success.
(4) If you miss a monthly target, the key to medium term success is to take the short term miss seriously. If you explain away your monthly metrics, you’ve thrown away their value as a feedback loop.
(5) How do you take short term misses seriously? You ask tough questions relentlessly. If you don’t ask the right questions, you’ll never find the right answers. Asking the right questions requires effort and focus.
(6) Examples of questions to ask when you miss your monthly metric: “Why am I missing? What are the key bottlenecks that are holding me back, even those not in my direct control? What can generate a 5x medium term increase in my metric, not just a 10% increase? Do I have strong enough people in my team?”