Ep. #811 - How to Measure Your Company’s ProgresS
In this Startup Hustle episode, Matt DeCoursey welcomes Doug Walner, CEO of Align, a company featured in our Top Startups in New Orleans, 2022 spotlight! Listen to these founders discuss how to measure your company’s progress.
Covered In This Episode
Is setting long-term goals more important than short-term goals? How do you get everyone onboard with your organization’s goals? How do you measure your business progress?
Matt and Doug tackle topics that every organization should apply, from setting goals to measuring your progress. They talk about how Align automizes gathering data to measure KPIs, OKRs, and more. They discuss the keys to setting attainable goals and the importance of having everyone understand the organization’s purpose and goals.
Listen to their conversation in this Startup Hustle episode to learn more.
- Doug Walner and Align’s backstory (2:25)
- OKRs, KPIs, and measuring things that really matter (3:51)
- Setting, breaking down, and aligning goals (5:10)
- What does Align do? (10:26)
- Goals should always be attainable (20:39)
- Learning, being flexible, and accepting mistakes (22:21)
- Measurement and acting along the timeline (24:01)
- How Align do individual measurables (27:09)
- Dealing with different personalities (29:30)
- Doug’s founder’s freestyle (38:35)
- What founders should remember (33:53)
I don’t know what you’re spending on this person, but your investment in people is your greatest investment, right, and your skill, hopefully, they stay there for a few years, you might spend a couple $100,000 on that employee, and you’re not even informing them of what the game plan is for the company, no matter what their position if they’re part of the team, they need to know what the game plan is.Doug Walner
So one of the mistakes that people in organizations make is they look at the achievement of a goal as a singular act. And when in theory, it’s like, almost always, or at least anything worth doing is a collection of 10s, hundreds, maybe even 1000s of micro-actions that all need little checkmarks that are eating the elephant one bite at a time, you know, and, and the thing is, is as a startup founder and entrepreneur, the one thing I can promise you is that there’s always going to be fires and things to put out and there’s you’re always getting tugged in a million different directions, which that results in a loss of structure.Matt DeCoursey
It’s more than just, you know, setting goals. It is building a culture that understands how important these things are. And it’s the nuances it’s not just the goals and writing them down and setting measurements…these are the little habits that you can develop as an organization are the important ones, right? These talk about the priorities on a regular basis. Talk daily with your team and have your team talk daily in a daily huddle. You know, do those types of things, and you will move the needle on your culture. And I just think that it’s hard work, it takes commitment.Doug Walner
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 0:01
And we’re back. Back for another episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey. Here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. What gets measured gets done. That is a saying and a phrase that I didn’t invent. And I don’t even know who did because a lot of people say it and it is true. That’s what we’re going to talk about during today’s episode of Startup Hustle. We’re gonna talk about how to measure your company’s progress. And there’s a lot of different ways to do it. There’s a lot of complexity with that. Some stuff is useful, some stuff isn’t I’ve got a subject matter expert to help me with that today. Before I tell you who that is are getting the further and we’ll let you know that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is supported by Compiler. And that’s an original podcast from Red Hat. Discussing tech topics big, small and sometimes strange Compiler unravels industry topics, trends and the things you’ve always wanted to know about tech. They do it through interviews with the people who know it the best learn more about Compiler at RedHat.com or by clicking a link in the show notes. With me today. I have Doug Walner and Doug is the CEO of Align. Now, Align is on Startup Hustle 2022 list of New Orleans Top Startups. So we want to congratulate them for that if you want to learn more about a line, you can go to aligntoday.com, much like a link to Red Hat. There is a link to Align Today in the show notes. But without further ado, and straight out of New Orleans, maybe even the French Quarter, who knows. Doug, Welcome to Startup Hustle.
Doug Walner 1:36
Thank you for having me. I am not in the French Quarter. But I do live in uptown. I do live in uptown. And we like to say that’s, you know, the hidden part of the city that people don’t get to see when they come here. It’s it’s kind of a really cool, unique, eclectic city and, you know, exploring all parts of it. But I do live in uptown. And right now in mid-city and our office is in mid-city.
Matt DeCoursey 1:57
Well, being from Kansas City, you know, I’m working with outsiders, the outsiders idea of what what now in New Orleans actually works. And I’m going to try to dodge beads that are being thrown at me throughout the show. You know, Marty, were this coming out after Mardi Gras already ended. So you know, I’ve been collecting all the beads. But anyway, enough about that. And let’s get started with a little bit of backstory about you and what you guys do at a lot.
Doug Walner 2:25
Sure. So I’ve been in the tech space for probably close to 30 years, I’ve been in different types of startups. And, you know, got involved with Align about three or four years ago. And it was founded by, you know, it had two co-founders. One was a software tech, got, you know, CEO, and the other was his business coach. And they were, you know, they were working on some strategic planning and, you know, setting goals and measuring stuff. And then, the tech founder said to the business coach, hey, this would be a lot easier if we sort of tracked all this and measured all this and software and built a system to do this. They were doing it in spreadsheets and PowerPoints and presenting it to their team and showing progress against priorities and goals. And, you know, they just thought this would be better memorialized. So they developed a product called Align. And, you know, they sort of memorialized it in software. And the truth is, is that doing this in software makes a lot more sense, whatever software tool that you’re using, you know, tracking it and measuring progress against goals and collecting the data, the data is the valuable part at the end of the day. And seeing it and visualizing it and sharing it across your organization having it as sort of a big billboard for everybody to hold everybody accountable. And it’s that transparency, which is probably one of the greatest features in the software.
Matt DeCoursey 3:51
Prior to you joining us in the studio today, I was recording a reaction video or preparing to about today’s episode. And if you want to check those out, go over to Startup Hustle YouTube channel been been doing those fairly regularly. But I was talking to the camera about how you know all founders all all businesses, all entrepreneurs, you hear on KPIs OKRs, data, analytics, blah, blah, blah, but how do you do it? And you’re right, Doug, you know, I find as the CEO at Full Scale, and a company has grown to 225 global employees, the data is all over the place and ends up in different spreadsheets, sometimes, you know, they exist, sometimes they don’t, how often is it updated? And you know, I want to actually before we get too far into this as some people don’t even know what OKR means, objectives and key results, KPI, key performance indicators, and these are things that inherent you’re right inherently aren’t always easy to measure. And then sometimes I think you can spend a lot of time measuring stuff that doesn’t really matter. So you know when it comes to the basics, KPIs, OKRs, data, and whatever, like, what what do you what are the like, the foundational elements of that, that, like, where do we start?
Doug Walner 5:10
So? So that’s a great question. And I think one of the things that people miss is they want to jump into OKRs. And they want to jump into, you know, setting up, you know, dashboards with KPIs, but the reality is, it all starts with a plan. And I think that’s what a lot of companies miss, they don’t they don’t start at the beginning of the process, which is, you know, setting out and really looking at, what are your, you know, ultimately, what’s your, you know, let’s start with your, your big, hairy, audacious goal, where do you want to be 20 years from now, and then work backwards from there. So setting goals, from 20 years out, down to three to five years out, then to one year out? And then ultimately, if you’ve set your one year goals, how do you sort of achieve that throughout the year and break that down into smaller periods throughout the year? I think that’s the one key area that I think a lot of companies miss is that you could set objectives and key results on a quarterly basis. But what are they aligned to? What are they mapping up to? What is it that you’re ultimately trying to achieve? So I think getting that good alignment inside the organization between what the goals are, and then what you need to accomplish each quarter is the critical missing piece for a lot of companies, they just sort of, they just jump into, you know, setting some priorities for the quarter without understanding what why are we doing these things.
Matt DeCoursey 6:25
The idea of, of establishing and setting and shooting for goals feels pretty universal. But it’s a lot of people don’t know that only 3% of professionals actually have written goals. And that’s kind of an astonishing number when you think about it, because that means that 32 out of 33 people. So don’t you know, and there are it’s something like 3% haven’t written I think it’s like 14% have goals but not written and the rest of everyone else is apparently just in the course as they go now. Now, I want to give you like a real-life example of this. So if we, Doug, if we were in a gym, and we’re shooting baskets, and we turn off all the lights, and it’s pitch black, and they spun us 10 times in a row, we had no idea where we’re going, where where we were on the court or anything, should we expect to really hit a lot of make a lot of baskets. No, I
Doug Walner 7:25
I don’t think we’re going to hit many baskets at all. Same thing, right?
Matt DeCoursey 7:27
Yeah. Like I don’t know, what what are we aiming for. So you’re not aiming for something. And then also, as a company, it’s, it’s a lot easier to align, like two or three people around them, maybe not as structured goals. But remember, people you’re trying to build something that’s bigger than you. So you got to really kind of get out in front of this. Because really, in the end, if you don’t have this kind of direction, you’re pretty much you find yourself rudderless.
Doug Walner 7:53
Yeah, you know, look, I have this conversation, I had this conversation with a local entrepreneur who, you know, I was talking to, they run a pretty sizable insurance business here, and they had some really good success. And it’s, you know, I said to them, you know, when you hire, if I went up to the newest person you hired, who is sort of a frontline employee, and I asked them what the company’s objectives were for the year, would they be able to tell me? He said, Well, no. Why? Why would why would they why don’t expect them to know what we’re trying to achieve from a revenue perspective. And like, That’s just unbelievable, you’re spending, you know, I don’t know what you’re spending on this person, but your investment in people is your greatest investment, right, and your skill, hopefully, they stay there for a few years, you might spend a couple $100,000 on that employee, and you’re not even informing them of what the game plan is for the company, no matter what their position, if they’re part of the team, they need to know what the game plan is. And I just think it’s kind of remarkable how people don’t think like that, or think that the frontline employees all have to know where, where the ship is going, you know.
Matt DeCoursey 8:58
Equally frightening as if you take most companies and you just pull 10 people aside and you ask those 10 people, like without contaminating them to do each other? What does your company do? And you’ll get 10 different answers a lot of times and, you know, that’s like that. I, for me, even prior to OKRs and KPIs and goals and all of that. I actually started there, you know, like, like, what is what are you do and now like this is sometimes referred to as a mission statement, it can be a little different. So at Full Scale, we sell tech services, we help people build software teams quickly and affordably. That’s what we do. And that’s one line. It’s not it doesn’t take five minutes to explain. And if you can’t clear clearly define what your company does, then how do you mean you haven’t even really set an object? You’re not even ready to set objectives yet?
Doug Walner 9:56
Yeah, yep, exactly. It’s it’s the foundational work that needs to be be done. And again, we, we preach that and it’s the core values, it’s the business purpose. It’s your brand promise, it’s all those essential things that everybody in the organization needs to know. That’s the foundational stuff that you need to start with. And then from there, you can build your goals set upon that if you if this is what you do, then how it you know, what are your goals to achieve that and bring that to market or to deliver that to your customers.
Matt DeCoursey 10:26
So I want to stop for a second and talk about the product that you’ve built and go to Align Today, there’s a link in the show notes and check out what they’re doing. But, but so the problem that we identified was that this is all over the place, like meaning the data, the measurement tools, maybe not as collaborative, like, how did you fix that problem with with your software platform?
Doug Walner 10:47
Sure. So we break it down into, you know, sort of, we call sort of the four big pillars of foundational pillars, which are, you know, the planning, the, the execution, and then the communication and the culture, those are sort of the four areas that we focus on in the software, but it all starts with planning. So we have, you know, there’s multiple models out there for how to create a business plan, you know, a good plan, where I what, what do you call a one page plan, just to simply tell, you know, this is what we’re trying to achieve. So we have that built into the software. And from there, you can, you know, sort of look at those core foundational principles in your business, your core values, your, your, you know, your business purpose, your core purpose, map all that out. And then what we have people do is sort of walk through that process, get that work done. And then, you know, as I was mentioning earlier, building down to, you know, your one year annual initiatives, what are we going to focus on this year, and from there, you can get into creating your first set of sort of quarterly priorities based on that. So, in our company, we just went through planning, at the end of December, we sat down, we mapped out what our annual initiatives are, the software allows you to load that in. And then, you know, from there, we can identify, we’ll have these are annual initiatives, we better be working on, you know, these three things in q1. And so those become your company, you know, priorities, essentially. And if those are your company priorities, as a company priority being something that everybody is really going to be somewhat, you know, tied to in some way. So, you know, a company priority is really something that touches touches multiple departments. So, if that’s the case, you’re then able to sort of break down those priorities with child priorities that say, Hey, this is, you know, this group, if you’re in this group, these are the things you’re going to be working on. And that can break down to an individual with certain priorities within that. And that sort of building out that priority tree is really where you sort of start to get this alignment towards what the annual initiative is. So it’s really just a matter of going through it and doing the work. And we allow you to do that we call the priority tree, essentially, that party management piece, is really the execution piece, because that’s where you’re going to layer in the good measurement, which we talked about, how do we measure the company’s progress? Well, now we’re going to measure priorities by, you know, multiple ways we could say a priority is the combination of its child priorities, and we’re going to measure the success of this top company priority by the average of how all the child priorities are done. That’s one way we call that a roll-up priority. One might be a priority might be a task based priority. So you’re setting out, you know, measurement and saying, look, there’s 10, core, important high level tasks that need to get done to get this priority achieved in this quarter. Well, you could just set it up as 10 tasks. And as that goes, you’re tracking it visually indicator, a visual indicator that says, you know, red, yellow, green, how are we doing against that priority. And then there’s just, you know, the typical KPI sort of measurement, there’s a target, or a number or an hours of, you know, hours worked on this particular thing, there’s multiple ways to measure your priorities. And the software just gives you the flexibility to set all that up. You know, we have other we have other means to do that as well. But that’s really the execution piece of the software. And then ultimately, we have the the communication piece. It’s, you know, we talk about, you know, measuring all this stuff, and we talk about setting this stuff up. But if your organization is not making this apart, you know, making, making priorities and the objectives, a part of their weekly meetings and monthly meetings, if they’re not embedding the discussion in those meetings around those priorities, you know, then you’re not focused on the right things every week, you should have a weekly meeting that’s focused on the quarterly priorities, right. So the tool allows you to bring that data into the meeting, set agendas for the meeting, and create rhythms and cadences around your meeting so that they’re efficient. You’re focused on the right things, and you can get through the meeting really, really quickly. So that’s, again, you know, a lot of this stuff you can do without software. But the software develops the habits that get you that sort of build. The organization culture is slow if you’re dealing with a scaling organization. It’s really, really hard. To get everybody, you know, to sort of develop those habits at the same time, that’s why the software works is a good structure to start building habits at the individual level. So everybody, if everybody started to do this, you start to get a culture that’s kind of, you know, its culture focused around execution, and good and good communication and sharing information. So the daily huddle is one of the things that we do. That’s like the most critical part of our communication rhythm at a line. That’s every day, you know, my whole company, we’re a startup. So we’re 20 people, right now we all get together at some point, I don’t think we could all get into a daily huddle when we grow beyond that. But right now, we all get into a daily huddle at 1147 every day. And we have a 15 minute huddle, we just run through the most important things that each person is working on that day. So everybody knows what everybody’s doing. These are the rhythms and cadences that, you know, if you can get your company into, it’ll become a habit, and you’ll be sharing information better around the key and important things in your business.
Matt DeCoursey 15:56
I think a key point with this, well, first off, if you’re going to eat an elephant, you got to do it one bite at a time. And you know, and I wrote a book called Balanced Me, it’s a realist guide to a successful life. And it’s really kind of similar to what you’re describing, like you met, you talked about this 20 year goal, or wherever you want to be, and you just reverse engineering your own success. So one of the mistakes that people in organizations make is, they look at the achievement of a goal as a singular act. And when in theory, it’s like, almost always, or at least anything worth doing is a collection of 10s, hundreds, maybe even 1000s of micro-actions that all need little checkmarks that’s eating the elephant one bite at a time, you know, and, and the thing is, is as a startup founder and entrepreneur, the one thing I can promise you is that there’s always going to be fires and things to put out and there’s you’re always getting tugged in a million different directions, which that results in a loss of structure. And it’s really easy to get past the basics. And, you know, I say this a lot in our own company, I’ve and just because I’m talking to myself a lot. And so you got to be brilliant on the basics. Like, we’re brilliant on the basics, we really have no business moving on down the road. So a lot of times, you know, in our meetings with somebody, you know, we’re talking five steps later. And we haven’t even figured out how to get one and two done. And I love the structured approach and your writing. I also like the fact that you’re openly acknowledging like, hey, a lot of this stuff we didn’t invent Oh, yeah, yeah, we have made it a lot more manageable because honestly, Doug, there really isn’t I don’t I see different tools that try to maximize this or maximize that. And we’re in this world where like, every buddy I know is got like some, like, do the list of subscriptions. And things Yeah, and stuff. And oh, my god, man. It’s like, I almost need an intervention to get me off of all of these different things. Now that said, it’s the connectivity of them and the communication. I love the prioritization thing. And that’s something else I want to add in. Because, you know, all right, so, Doug, I think you may be similar in age to me. So you probably remember way back in the day, we have like the Franklin Covey. Yes, these this was like, this was like a multi-level marketing thing where you could go and sell these things, it was this kind of obnoxious, padded book that just reminds you of like a Rolodex or something, but, and, you know, it is what it is, I wasn’t to end of that. But one thing that I loved about it was that it did force you to prioritize, so and it was really simple as like you have A, B and C tasks. And at any point, you should never be working on a B or C task when you have something on your a list. And you know, whether you end up going into aligntoday.com and signing up or whatever, I want anyone listening to always to train yourself to think about that. Because all you can do is all you can do. So if you want to achieve, if you want to win if you want to be successful, the people that I know that do that on the highest level, always focus on the most valuable things first, and it’s easy to say and so much harder to do. And I want want to talk a little bit more about that. Before we do that. I want to remind everyone that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is supported by Compiler. It’s an original podcast from Red Hat. And they discuss topics big, small and strange. You know, I recently checked out their episode about how tech hubs are changing. And you know, on the Compiler podcast, and I mean, it’s really insightful. The, the, the whole, you talked about a tech hub, and what does this and what does that and these are moving targets. These are things that as a startup founder, especially a tech founder, you really got to keep your arms around. Because I mean, it’s it’s none of this stuff is ever finished. It’s never complete, which means it’s changing. Its move have been, there’s adjustments that need to be made. And I just want to thank the folks over the Compiler podcast for keeping everybody up to speed on that for supporting this episode. Because, you know, this is the same kind of stuff we deal with. And you know, something we talked about two years ago, is no longer current. So if you think you have figured it all out, you haven’t. In fact, you’re probably way behind. So go check out the Compiler podcast, you’ll learn more about it at RedHawk.com, or RedHat.com, or click the link in the show notes. You can also find a line today in there as well. And, you know, back to talking to talk in about this now. Does Align help you talk about, alright, so, a goal doesn’t mean anything if it’s not somewhat attainable. In my opinion, I think a lot of times leaders are like, some of us is forced forced from the downward pressure of VCs or funding and you’re like, hey, my goal, I want to double my revenue. Okay, so tell me why that is possible. And how and like, if a goal isn’t, isn’t reasonable, or unattainable people, in my opinion, just don’t they just learned they don’t, it’s just background noise. So how do you establish goals, KPIs, or objectives and key results that actually make sense? Like, how do you know when you’re like, hey, this is possible, because like, everyone wants to lose weight. But if you tell yourself, you’re going to, I’m going to lose 30 pounds. Okay, how are you doing that? Because you really got to lose one pound at a time. So how do you? How do you make this stuff? Like, palatable?
Doug Walner 21:41
Yeah. I mean, you mean in terms of attainable attainability? Or? Or
Matt DeCoursey 21:46
do you? Do you think a gold needs to be attainable to be taken seriously? Because, I do.
Doug Walner 21:50
I do too, I think, you know, obviously, you know, I think as an organization, and every organization is, you know, sort of guilty of this, you set, you know, you’ve set goals that just really suck at times, you know, and you’re like, why did i Why did we do that, and you sort of have to revisit, I think, I think the main,
Matt DeCoursey 22:07
There’s no basis behind it, it’s not, like, it’s not like a reasonable theory of being able to be done. It’s just like, kind of grabbing it, it’s kind of like, people with timelines, for software, deliverables, there’s a big difference in when it can be done, and when you might want it to be on it.
Doug Walner 22:22
And look, I think that’s a, that’s a learned behavior, that that just organizations need to, you know, first of all, you need to start, you know, setting goals the right way, you know, there’s, there’s, you know, all these acronyms, SMART goals and FAST goals and different ways to do it. And you can go and read all about that, and figure out how to make them specific and measurable, and, you know, attainable, those are the, those are the acronyms for it. But, you know, at the end of the day, you really just got to get into setting goals and start doing it, and you will sort of learn your organization, I think every organization is going to be a little bit different in terms of their aggressiveness and how aggressive they want to be. But it comes from, you know, just sort of trying it and doing it and failing and figuring out, Hey, we got way ahead of ourselves here on that. And I think, you know, again, we do that here at Align a lot, you know, we’ve set goals, and, you know, some of them have been unattainable. And we’ve learned from that, and you have to be flexible in the quarter, let’s say, or in a period that you’re trying to measure, you’ve got to be able to just, you know, on the fly, you know, except the fact you made a mistake and change it. And you know, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But you know, but you have to kind of own up to that fact. And just, that’s how you learn as an organization. It takes some time to get it right. But each organization I think gets into their own rhythm, their own, their own setting, you know, their own ability to set their goals, based on past experience. And I just think that’s a, it’s for startups, especially you don’t, you know, the the organization itself has to has its own learning capacity, and it’ll learn over time, what it’s capable of doing and where that where that attainability is.
Matt DeCoursey 24:01
So I want to talk a little bit about the measurement along the timeline. Now, I’m not a New England Patriots fan, but Bill Belichick is pretty well known for saying, if you’re waiting till halftime to make adjustments, you’re too late. Meaning like, you’re always kind of kind of adjusting it. So I’ve also learned over the years that a fat dog won’t hunt meaning needed so I learned that as a sales manager a long time ago and I noticed that most of my salespeople that whenever they said they either had a goal for income they wanted to make and then once they got there, they became really shitty salespeople. Because they told themselves they were already there or they would have a good month and crush and make a big huge commission check and then I could literally predict who was going to have a crap month because they just had a good one. Right and then have another good one after the crap month because they probably spent all the money that they are the month before so you know so so how do you recommend it organizations deal with the success or lack thereof, in the act of timeline.
Doug Walner 25:08
I think you’ve got to just adjust on the fly, I think you’ve got to be amenable to admitting mistakes, admitting you got too aggressive. I think that’s hard for people. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s hard for a salesperson to just say, look, I thought I was gonna close all this business, but you know, I was just wrong, I just gave the wrong confidence levels on these deals. And, you know, you just have to be willing to, you know, say you made a mistake and learn from it and move on. You know, it’s hard. It’s, it’s, you know, it’s a hard thing to get right. But you will, eventually, you will eventually learn it, if, if the organization is committed to that. I mean, I think that, you know, the problem is, is that you got to get everybody on the same page. And there’s always going to be some outliers, who just say, you know, you know, that’s unattainable, or, you know, that’s not or that’s, you know, I’m not, it’s, I’m this aggressive, and, you know, there’s just going to be different people in the organization. I think, as an organization, though, you’ll learn and I think you’ll sit, you know, as, especially as a leader, you got to set the right tone for what it is, you know, how aggressive you want to be how, you know, with your goals, and that’s sort of sets the culture for the, for the rest of the company.
Matt DeCoursey 26:20
Does a line have anything that, that you look at, like a team or someone that will measure individual contributors within a particular project or whatever, because I find, you know, I mentioned I’ve 225 employees worldwide. Now, you know, I can look at our goals collectively. But, I mean, that’s way too many people to just have one top-level goal, I don’t know if there’s, like, you know, different? Well, different people produce at different rates. And then sometimes you have people that are just a boat anchor, and some people are the aren’t strong motor pulling out along. I’m a firm believer and untethering that anchor or to politely say, sometimes you have to free people up for their, their own future. But what about individual measurables? Are?
Doug Walner 27:09
Yeah, so so the way our the way our software works, and, you know, obviously, you can set this up any way you want. But let’s say you’ve got a, you know, four to five company priorities, and a quarter or three to four company priorities and a quarter and everybody’s somewhat got priorities that are mapped to that. We encourage everybody to take their own priorities that will, you know, in addition to company priorities, right, so they’re setting priorities for themselves that they want to get done in the quarter that might be related to projects that aren’t specifically the company priority, but are also, you know, objectives for the quarter. So the software actually is, you know, all these priorities are assigned down to individuals. And so, at the end of the day, on a quarterly review with an employee, you can actually sit down and have, you know, objective information that says, here’s how you did on on your priorities this quarter, you’re, you know, you’ve got three reds, and you know, one yellow, in reality, by the way, if that’s the case, and the manager is reviewing somebody with three reds and a yellow, you know, my view is, as the CEO, I’d be looking at the manager, how did they get to that point, right, where they weren’t achieving those objectives. But the software does allow you to do that. And I think this is, this is sort of the next generation of performance management, we call it continuous performance management, right? The data doesn’t lie, this is how people are performing against the objectives that were set for him. This is no longer you know, the subjective, you know, annual review at the end of the year that said, you know, the manager says, Well, I think you did, okay, you know, the data doesn’t lie, we have, you know, four quarters of, of data in a line, and we can go back and look at your objectives, and, you know, you hit super green on every one of them all year, you’re gonna, you’re gonna, you’re gonna do really well in your, you know, annual review. So, you know, it does do that, and you can use it for that. And a lot of companies and clients of ours do use it for performance management purposes. They actually just look at what got done for that employee that quarter. And we’ll give them a quarterly review based on how they’re doing in the software, how the software says they’re doing against that objective. Now, again, at the beginning of the quarter, the manager has got to make sure that, you know, the objectives are set with the right measurement at the end of the day and agrees with the measurement that that’s been set. So, that is something that needs to happen also, when that when the objectives are being set for the employee. But yes, you do answer is yes, you can do that.
Matt DeCoursey 29:30
Different personality types handle feedback and failure. Way, way, different way different. And, you know, I’m a I’m a lifetime scientist of human performance and, you know, some people you have to push some people you have to pull, you know, what kind of input do you have or advice for business leaders that need to give feedback that isn’t Oh, I mean, okay, so people universally are okay with you telling him great stuff about them. Not when you’re underperforming. Like I said, there are certain people that certain personality types need to be pushed, others need to be pulled. And getting that wrong can actually be counterproductive. So you know, people that are more introverted, you have to take a different approach to the critical feedback with them, because they’re inherently focused on the steps to the result where people that are extroverted are usually like, hey, bottom line, bottom line, they don’t necessarily care how the sausage was made, just that it’s there that it’s in the package and it’s done. You can usually push the extroverted people a type A personalities in the type B’s got to pull along a little bit, because if you approach them a different way, they feel attacked. it’s disheartening. And they often bottle up the that that feedback and kind of like internally implode?
Doug Walner 31:01
Yeah, look, my answer to that would be in any other era of time, I would say, let’s, let’s go to the facts and deal with the facts. But in this day and age, I don’t know that everybody believes data and the facts, which is a little scary, but I do as well. But it’s
Matt DeCoursey 31:19
ones and zeros and ones. I am made of zeros and ones, and it pisses people off because they’re getting the reason people don’t like that it’s really in the end things are zeros and ones Yes, and no true or false. There’s a whole lot of stuff above that. But in the end, it is yes, no when last true false. Yes, downright laughs You know, it’s like, and it doesn’t, that doesn’t take into consideration human emotions and all the other stuff that gets down to zeros and ones.
Doug Walner 31:48
Yeah, look, I think two things on that. One is the facts don’t lie. And I think as as an organization, you got to decide whether you’re going to, you’re going to continue to review people on a subjective basis, or an objective basis. And I think, you know, doing doing the work that we’ve been talking about today, and putting measurement behind objectives and priorities, you know, will give you the data. And at the end of the day, I think you have to have a frank and honest conversation with your employees, if they’re not performing, you know, the data is here, I’m looking at the data, these things didn’t get done. And, you know, you, you know, the data doesn’t lie. And so you are right, people have different emotions. And I think, you know, that’s, you know, the emotional quotient, I think, as a manager, I think that’s often missed. And I think, you know, that’s going to be different for even every manager, I could give advice, but every manager is going to have their own, you know, way of handling things, either appropriate or inappropriate. But, you know, people, that’s the hardest part of business is managing those, the pushing the poll of the different employees, I tend to rely on the data I tend to rely on, you know, the facts and have honest and open regular communication, I think is the most important, no surprises, I think, is really, one way to handle that is, you know, frequent conversations about that’s why we do these weekly meetings, where the priorities are getting reviewed, you know, like, it should not be a surprise to somebody that you’re disappointed with their performance, you know, whether they’re, you know, no matter what type of personality it is. And I think the more you can expose that as part of your regular way of doing business, the better. So if you are doing that’s why the weekly meeting for us, is such an important meeting, it’s we’re not just getting together to talk about the business, we’re getting together to talk about the priorities that we’re focused on, and how we’re doing against those priorities. And that’s, there’s a review against those priorities. Every monthly, we have a monthly meeting as a company to talk about our targets for the quarter and review the targets and review the priority. So everybody knows whether we’re succeeding or failing. And people know, and by the way, this the one thing about the software is the transparency, I mentioned that earlier, the transparency of the product, everybody’s information is viewable. So there is this cultural, you know, sort of thing that happens where everyone’s like, well, I don’t want to be in the red, I want to, I want to be in the green. So you see people performing better, because they know other people are staring at their priorities that are in the red. So you know, I think if you’re doing this kind of work regularly, there are no surprises. And if somebody’s surprised, then and they would have a negative reaction to it, you know, they’re not part of your culture. And that part of the culture, you’re creating around execution. And they’re, you know, they’re not listening. If you’re trying to enhance communication with all these tools, they’re not listening, and they’re not getting the messages. It’s right there in the software, you’re not performing. You know, there’s there’s there’s a place for that person and it’s not inside the organization.
Matt DeCoursey 34:52
Yeah, there’s there’s a couple things I want to get past this. You know, we mentioned a few minutes ago, you’re talking about management and so there, I’m a big believer in the theory of Extreme Ownership. And that is the belief that there are no bad teams, there’s only bad leaders. So you know, and not taking that approach, I think often leads to this culture of blaming, you’re like, hey, my team isn’t winning. And it’s because this and this and this, and this, and this, well, that that is only a short term excuse, because in the end, it all does go back upstream. Like if, if your people aren’t succeeding, it could because of you. And you know, your inability to do that. Now, we also, I have a tip that we talked about the delivery of, of, hey, you’re not getting it done, I actually, we have something that we internally refer to as the shit sandwich, which means you talk about something that they’re doing great, you address the things that are grossly underperforming, and then you follow it up with something that they’re still doing or winning, or perhaps this is how we’re going to help or provide you with the tools or whatever. So you, you take a couple good and uplifting things, and you kind of bundle the middle part in the middle. And it’s better than just sitting in a meeting and be like, Hey, this is what you’re doing well, and this is where you’re terrible. And then you leave the meeting and someone’s leaving, dejected and they’re not they don’t feel good, they’re not happy about it. And it’s just like, you know, I don’t know if there’s a you know, a lot, a lot to be said about that. All right. So once again, today’s episode of Startup Hustle was supported by a Compiler that is an original podcast from Red Hat, discussing tech topics big, small and strange. You can listen to the Compiler podcast, on Apple podcasts or really anywhere, where you hear podcasts. We have a link in the show notes. I just want to thank the folks over Compiler for supporting what we do. We love collaborating with other podcasts, other tech companies and other businesses. Now, Doug is my shows I say my shows because I’m not the only host of Startup Hustle. Make sure you tune in weekly and join Andrew Morgans, the CEO and founder of Marknology. They’re an Amazon brand accelerator. Andrew talks all about eCommerce, and Amazon tune in weekly for Lauren Conaway. She is the founder of InnovateHer, and someone who talks about so many topics that I’m on Sundays afraid to address because she’s a master at that stuff. And if you have been a longtime listener, you know that I record a heck of a lot of episodes with the other Matt, Matt Watson, we get Matt on weekly show, he’s got a lot to say he’s a he’s a hell of a resource. And someone who’s seen two huge exits as a software founder. So we figured after about almost 800 episodes, we go ahead and just give him the mic. So make sure you tune in for that. So you know, Matt, and I will still be doing a weekly episode together. So that is not going away. But as far as the founders freestyle, Doug, it goes Doug, I’d like to hand the mic over to my guest. If there’s anything you forgot any key points, you want to revisit anything else you want to say, you get a freestyle. I get a freestyle, by the way, one of the other top startup founders in your hometown on the list in New Orleans actually read an original poem, which was the first I’ve had someone else rapped. The rest of the time, we usually just kind of talked about what we talked about on the show, but you never know sometimes things surprise you.
Doug Walner 38:29
Yeah, I’m no poet. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna pass on the poem.
Matt DeCoursey 38:33
You’re gonna rap.
Doug Walner 38:35
I’m not a rapper, either. But I mean, look, I’ll just, I’ll just apply it about, you know, this is doing, you know, we talked a lot about this, the measurement and the goals and setting all this stuff. And I talked about, you know, sort of the foundational pillars of what it takes to get this done. This is not easy work. And I think the the perception that, you know, this is easy, you know, just set some goals and put it down and you know, people will do it. It’s not, it’s, it’s more than just, you know, setting goals. It is building a culture that understands how important these things are. And it’s the nuances. It’s not just the the goals and writing them down and setting measurement. It’s alright, if we’ve written them down, and we’ve set the measurement. We need to talk about them regularly. And we need to create communication rhythms and cadences, these these things that you know, when I say you have to have a rhythm for a meeting, it’s important to have a rhythm for a meeting because you can if you multiply the number of weekly meetings you have in the year, you know, like if you just look at all the time spent in those meetings, if they’re not efficient, you’re wasting time on building your business. So little, the little things, the little habits that you can develop as an organization are the important ones, right? These talk about the priorities on a regular basis. Talk daily with your team and have your team’s talk daily in a daily huddle. You know, do those types of things and you know, you will move the needle on your culture. And I just think that it’s hard work, it takes commitment, we have customers that come in and just say they want to do this, and they just, they just don’t have the wherewithal to sort of push it through their organization, it is a little bit of change management, you know, and people have to be open to change. And sometimes you put it on an organization, and they may not be open to change, I think, you know, it’s hard work. But I would encourage anybody who really wants to do the work to, you know, obviously check our stuff out, there’s other software applications out there that do similar stuff that we do, I think we pull it all together a little bit more broadly, than, like the OKR software, products, we wrap the communication and the and the culture and all that stuff around it and the planning around it. And I think if you if you do this work, you’ll see success, it’s it’s, it’s that simple, good alignment, good goal setting good measurement, you will see success, if you do this work. If you would like to talk to us about it, you can come to our website, schedule a demo, our, you know, our account, executives will get on the demo with you and just sort of show you how it works. And we do also support our customers in their in sort of the launch of this process. And so we even have a lot of content that gets to that fact, like, how do you roll this stuff out inside an organization that’s resisting and you know, that might resist and things like that. So that’s an important element of this. It’s not just, you know, selling you software, it’s selling you software and helping you get this work done. We also, you know, one of the things I would recommend to people is get a business coach, there’s a lot of business coaches out there that do this work, and, and will help hold you accountable and in your team. And sometimes it’s nice to have that outside person holding your organization accountable. That’s another sort of good trick. If you can afford it, that’s not cheap. But you know, that’s another good trick to sort of getting this work done. And they also work as good facilitators in your, your annual and your quarterly planning meeting. So I would encourage everybody to do the work, you will see success period. If you if you get it right, you will see success.
Matt DeCoursey 42:10
Yeah, I agree. I think some of the things that stood out in today’s episode are, well, first off, I love what you guys are building because I think that anything that that walks you through getting this stuff set up and improves accountability. And you know, then that’s tough to do. Because, you know, 20 years ago, I didn’t have 20 years of experience now, the top performing organizations and people that I know constantly go back and they they’re brilliant at the basics, you know, and you look at, and I really do spend time and effort talking to people that perform at the highest of levels. Sometimes I’m not even on the show, like I was just literally just doing this. I worked in the music industry for 15 years, and I have access to some very interesting people. And I was just talking to multiple rockstars. Last week, guitarists, I’m like how do you get yourself in this place? And it’s about preparation. And it’s about, it’s about structure and focus and understanding how to put all this together. So at the moment that you need to do it, you can. And the thing is, is what I found is that success demands payment in advance. So you got to figure out that plan and write those checks upfront. I have yet to disprove that theory, man. And like, I mean, that’s the whole thesis of my book balance, man. It’s true. Like, it’s easy to look at people and you’re like, hey, this person is talented. And that’s why they won, though, they probably practiced a whole lot, which is setting plan, setting goals, and then doing it now, for me self discipline is defined as doing the things that you need to do at the times that you least want to do them. And there’s this this revisiting and seeing things like you see the structure, you’re reminded of the goal. It’s clear, it’s concise, it’s understood, and then creates have fun with it people like John Okay, remember when you’re in like fourth grade and you did like a fundraiser and you had a little thermometer thingy and like, yeah, you needed to raise 500 bucks. And I just remember like how excited the class was, and we got to color and more of it. Hey, guess what that works. And it don’t like to see progress. You see the measurable like, it doesn’t literally like in a world of gaming and gamification. We’re all trying to make our avatar stronger. That’s true. I got an upgrade. I’m now an 87 out of 100 for speed or power. Well take that same approach and the visual the visual collaboration compare, you know, in communication, everyone wants to see and by the way, if you got people that don’t want to see that dial tech up, I’d send them out the door ya know, like that’s not the right people. You want to get people that want to win and also create a try to create a culture where every it’s an open door from everyone that might need help from someone else because you got to do But as a team, there’s only so much you can do by yourself, all you can do is all you can do. And, you know, unless someone figures out how to do a 30 hour day, you have to figure out how to do more within the given time. You have to engage with a little time arbitrage. And then also, you know, I think at the end, like you got to hold yourself accountable. Like, like, like you want you you want are you lost, like I put a poll up on on LinkedIn, that’s got like, 1000 votes on it right now. And it literally just says, are you an organized person? Yes or no? Because if it’s not a yes, then you aren’t. And you know, that’s the same thing. So like you made it to the goal or you didn’t that’s not there’s no maybes like, I don’t know billionaires, that won on maybes. Do you?
Doug Walner 45:51
True. There’s a lot of planning that goes into being a building customer. They didn’t just accidentally get there. A lot of them didn’t accidentally didn’t
Matt DeCoursey 46:00
Well, that inheriting a billion isn’t a success. That’s different. That’s a different thing. Yeah, that is different that is not how success is defined. But anyway, you can see I’m passionate about it. If you want to learn a little bit more about that. My book Balance Me is on Kindle for like $1.99 Because I don’t care. I know you’re trying to make money. It’s the cheapest that they’ll let me sell it. So go check it out. And it’s got a lot of tools for determining prioritization and what tasks are valuable, what isn’t, and it’s all, and it is 100% centric, around the achievement of goals in your personal professional or physical life and, and that’s really where it comes down to, once again, go to align today. Check out what they’re doing. Check out the Compiler podcast. Thank you to Red Hat, redhat.com. Learn more about what they’re doing. Doug, I’m all fired up, man. I want to go I’m gonna get my whole team’s here in the office in the studio. I’m gonna go set some goals and knock them down, baby.
Doug Walner 46:56
Cool. Cool. Thanks for having me. I appreciate you having me on the show.
Matt DeCoursey 47:01
I’m gonna, I’m gonna call you every day. Let you know how we’re getting along with our goals.
Doug Walner 47:05
Excellent. So awesome.
Matt DeCoursey 47:05
Doug Walner 47:06
Go kill it.