How much volume should your project leads produce? I'm always reluctant to give a general answer because of the endless variables within companies, markets, and projects. A $50,000 project in one part of the country might cost $100,000 in another. There's a huge difference between managing two $300,000 projects and forty $15,000 projects.

Instead of holding your production staff to unrealistic “industrywide” benchmarks, try setting quantifiable performance goals that make sense for your company. Just make sure all things are equal — everybody has the same tools and staff support — and that goals are viewed as opportunities to improve, not reasons to berate.

For example, if your overall profitability goal is a 10% net, your project leads should aspire to a 10% net on each job they manage, regardless of job size. Hold debriefings to inspire joint accountability. If a job produced a 7% profit, what could be improved next time?

Customer satisfaction can also be quantitatively measured. Ask clients to grade production crews on issues (besides workmanship) that they can control. For instance, on a scale of 1 to 5, how well did they clean up daily, keep clients informed, and meet the schedule? Again, have the team work together toward improvement.

If you do want to set volume goals, make sure they're relative to your company and your market. One possibility is to average the volumes of your project leads. If you have a superstar producer, have him or her train the others, not inspire resentment or burnout. —Tim Faller, Field Training Services,