When you grow at the pace of Dropbox, it’s often hard to keep all of your employees in check.
It now has over 1,200 employees – from about 500 a year ago – working on a platform used by more than 300 million users worldwide. It’s reported to have a valuation of $US10 billion, a feat achieved in less than 8 years.
So how exactly does Dropbox keep track of everyone’s performance and make sure they’re running in the same direction?
Dennis Woodside, Dropbox’s COO, shared some of the secrets at the Goal Summit, an event hosted by the performance tracking software BetterWorks. Here are some of the takeaways:
Frequent goal reviews: Woodside says engineering teams at Dropbox work on 6-week sprints, meaning each development team is given 6 weeks to complete specific work projects, such as building a new feature or product improvements. “There’s a lot that goes into planning when you’re working that fast,” he said.
In fact, he says Dropbox’s board asks management for a report on their overall objectives every month. It gives a chance to review what’s working and what type of issues they’re facing on a regular basis. “Their view is this market is moving way too fast,” Woodside said.
Team-first attitude: Woodside pointed out the current job market is the “most competitive in the world,” as Dropbox has to compete with big companies like Google and Facebook or other emerging startups for talented engineers.
But he still makes sure he sees two things in potential hires: a team-oriented mindset (“We, not I”), and a detailed answer to what role you played in a specific project. “If you can’t answer those detailed questions, we’re not the one for you,” he said.
70% goal achievement rate: He said he typically expects people to hit about 70% of their goals, with the rest being stretch goals that may be hard to achieve in the short term. Also, there’s what he calls the “sh — happens” exception where an unforeseen event happens and the goals have to be readjusted.
He also makes sure his engineers get to release their stress through internal events like HackWeek, where all meetings are cancelled for a week so they can work on “building something new.” It could be a new product or just a simple speed improving feature, or something not related to Dropbox at all. “Six-week plannings put tremendous strain on people,” he said.