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How Gary Fazio keeps everyone focused on their goals at Mattress Firm Inc.

Gary T. Fazio and his team at Mattress Firm Inc. have many things they want to accomplish, but there are only so many hours in a day and only so much people can do.

“Many times we try to bite off more than we can chew,” says the CEO of the mattress retailer, which posted more than $500 million in 2008 revenue.

For instance, when the company has meetings to review its strategy performance, percentages are displayed to show the team how much of a goal it has met. A goal that is close to 100 percent completion would get a green color, while a goal the company isn’t reaching is in the red.

“When you realize you have so many of those percentages at 50 or below, a little more red or yellow than the green, you realize, ‘Why aren’t we doing it?’”

Before Fazio starts to point fingers and reprimand people, he has to think about whether the company is spreading itself too thin.

“When you realize that so-and-so has six or seven of the top 20 priorities, how is she going to get those done? It’s just not fair,” he says. “You really have to be cognizant and understand that we also have other things that we are doing on the day-to-day. To accomplish our goals, some of these priorities are not going to get the attention they need.”

Fazio finds it’s better to be great at a small amount of things than to be average or good across the board.



“You’ll feel better about what you are doing, and frankly, you are going to accomplish more because instead of trying to accomplish 28 (goals) maybe at 75 percent, you are better off trying to do 15 (goals) at 100 percent.”

Either way, Fazio isn’t going to play the blame game if something isn’t at 100 percent.

“Blaming people is really not what it is all about,” he says. “It’s about helping everybody and making sure you are getting it done. But if you are trying to do too much, no one can do it. It’s just not possible.”

Besides limiting the overall number of goals, Fazio has found that being clear and following up are key leadership traits when it comes to getting the job done.