October 28th, 2015 was a transformational moment for Point It. In all my years of business this was a defining event – one that changed the company and brought everyone together to focus on very specific goals. This would require total involvement throughout the organization.
Until then, we had been a successful digital marketing agency with a great reputation. We’d been profitable since Day One and on the fastest growing companies lists for several years. I don’t recall what sparked the change, perhaps it was some nudging from our Founder, Jon Lisbin, or from our Board of Advisors. Regardless, we decided to have a company offsite with key employees to determine our direction and set goals to move us forward.
Create an Actionable Plan
Many of you have been through something similar, we had too in prior years. But, as is often the case, nothing happened afterwards. This time it was different. John Cioffi, author of The Winning Manager’s Playbook and a friend of a Board member, conducted the exercise. He did it as a favor, and boy, did it pay off. The offsite was like most others – SWOT analysis, Positioning, discussing new Services, etc, but there was one very important difference. Every action that we determined needed to be done was assigned to a person and a due date was assigned. As we progressed, John typed out the details and at the end everyone walked out with their assignments. Crucially, we went “live” on the new plan as soon as we left the room. There was no waiting around for someone to write it all up, and that made a significance difference because now we were all “on the clock”.
Accountability for Company Goals
We operate now with two company goals. One is Net Income. The other is a Customer Satisfaction score. They do not change, regardless of what may happen. Overall accountability for goals lies with the GMT (Goals Management Team – aka Exec Team). Each month we review financial and operational goals. Critical questions are “Are we on track? If not, then why not? If under Plan, can we recover? If over Plan, will that continue?” Everyone in the company knows the Plan. Everyone is a contributor. Every quarter I present our financials to the entire company and one of the first things I do is to bring up the goals so we are all aligned.
Everyone Contributes to Success
But one of the biggest challenges to company goal setting is making sure everyone can directly impact the goals in some way. One of John Cioffi’s philosophies is that everyone has a Position Description that not only outlines the responsibilities but also lists the goals. Goal setting is a tough exercise. Often responsibilities are confused with goals, and there was a learning curve for us. Now, I’d say almost everyone’s goals are measurable and specific. Overall the biggest impact of this change has been a tremendous focus on how to improve profitability through enhanced productivity and efficiency. Too much focus on profitability can be a bad thing, and that’s why the focus on Customer Satisfaction provides a great counterbalance.
2017 is our second year being truly goal driven. An offshoot of the tighter focus resulted in a very exciting idea from Maddie Cary, our Director of Paid Search. She proposed that we have a “Shark Tank” contest where employees form teams and present ideas on how to improve the company. I was blown away last week when I saw the lineup of teams. Everyone in the company is on a team (minus the Execs who are the “Sharks”). The presentations are in early April and I can’t wait to hear all the ideas. None of this would have come about without this change in how we run Point It. By far and away this has been the most exciting transformation I have been a part of.