Personal accountability is integral to remodeling success, but most remodelers want to create a pervasive organizational culture of accountability as well.

Last month I wrote about how Melton Construction powered its accountability program by way of team goal setting and team monitoring. This month, I'll show how Van Deusen Construction Co., in Bel Air, Md., drives accountability by using detailed job descriptions, metrics, and prioritized responsibilities, all spelled out in a structured performance review for every employee in the organization.

For owner Jay Van Deusen, accountability means “trying to get everybody to know what their job is rather than trying to infer it,” he says. By providing everyone with clear ways to measure their success, he shows them how they can succeed in his organization.

WEIGHTED SCORES Here's how the program works at Van Deusen Co.

Performance reviews are conducted at 30, 60, and 90 days for new employees and semiannually for other staff. Each review report consists of a spreadsheet, called the “key accountabilities rating sheet.”

First, the employee ranks himself or herself in several categories. Then, each co-worker described in the employee's job description ranks the employee in the same categories.

Rankings are weighted and compiled, with the target being a total average score of a certain percentage or higher for each employee.

Let's use the example of the bookkeeper, whose overall target score is 87%.

The bookkeeper's job description counts for 80% of her overall job success rating. Within her job description are three areas of responsibility: accounting and business administration (60% of the job description), office assisting duties (23%), and human resources (17%). Each area of responsibility is clearly defined. Accounting and business administration, for instance, requires having:

“… the tools to judge where the profitability of the company lies. Accurate and knowledgeable, the bookkeeper thoroughly understands basic accounting principles and can apply them to ensure the financial accuracy of the construction company, including: general accounting, A/P, A/R, job costing reports, WIP reports, property management activities, and other reporting instruments. The bookkeeper works with the general manager, the corporate accountant, and the administration manager to provide accurate reporting.”

A fairly typical job description, in other words. Where Van Deusen Co.'s system stands out is in how it defines success in each area of responsibility. For instance, the bookkeeper must receive a score of 87% or better in her performance of accounting and business administration, as judged by those four people with whom she works.

Thus the job description sets up the ability to produce a numerically scored performance review. Each employee knows the areas in which he or she will be graded, and how his or her overall job success rating will be determined.

MEASURING BEHAVIOR Van Deusen Co.'s performance review also takes into account 11 behaviors that the company has identified as key to company-wide success. These, too, are weighted and scored. For instance, the bookkeeper's score in this section accounts for 20% of her job success rating. The behaviors include:

  • Do you write it down?
  • Do you “dwysygtdwysygtdi” (do what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it)?
  • Do you suggest alternatives for problem solving?
  • Are you visibly satisfied with your job?
  • Are you on time for the workday?
  • Although this system seems well defined, it is very much a work in progress. Job descriptions are still being developed, and metrics are still being hammered out. Already, however, the company and its employees have enjoyed the benefits of establishing clear objectives, defining jobs, evaluating performance, and coaching staff to set goals for improvement. —Linda Case is founder of Remodelers Advantage in Laurel, Md., a company providing business solutions through a network of experts and peers. 301.490.5260;;