To build value in your company and get it to run without depending on you too much, create an organization manual for as many positions as possible. The more you write up, the easier it is to find, hire, and train exceptional staff — and the more likely it is that your company will be profitable.

First, create job descriptions. This list of activities is the basis for deciding what else goes in the manual. Collate the results to start developing your manual and clue in other staff by making copies for everyone in your company to review and comment on. Once the input has been sorted and edited, fill in any gaps by adding what you think might have been missed.

Finally, incorporate appropriate comments and publish the job description for that position. Keep a loose-leaf binder so you can add pages, and keep a computer file of the manual.


Next, develop key accountabilities (KA). These complement a job description by focusing on results. This process is best done as a group exercise involving all in the company who have a stake in the position being discussed. For the production manager (PM) position, that would be: owner, estimator, one or two lead carpenters the PM manages, in-house designer/architect, office manager.

Hold a meeting (allow at least two hours) to do this and follow these steps: With the group, write down every activity the position entails. From that list, pull out the results that the position is to accomplish. Winnow this to no more than seven items. Attach a metric—realistic, not optimistic—to each result. Decide how much of the employee’s work time should be spent on each KA (totaling 100%, see PM example below).

Body of Knowledge

Think about the processes that the position engages in. Keep a notebook or a computer file to note what happens when you’re actually engaged in a process; then formalize all the notes. As you get the processes done, add them to the position manual.

You are finally building a body of information that’s useful to all in the company and that reduces the company’s dependence on you. —Winans is a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage and a consultant to remodeling business owners.

This is an excerpt from a four-part series. Read more at

Sample Key Accountabilities for a Production Manager

Complete Jobs on Time/Budget
As measured by: job cost actual to estimates; report of jobs completed on schedule; job tracking form (reviewed at job completion and in monthly and annual overall review).

Ensure Production Team Stability
As measured by: no slippage in job starts (reviewed monthly); turnover (reviewed quarterly); strong annual performance reviews; bimonthly production meeting.

Adhere to Policy
As measured by: monthly review and job completion form review by top team.

Meet Monthly/Annual Budget Goals
As measured by: monthly and year-end reviews of financials.

Create Raving Fans
As measured by: client referrals or repeat business; end-of-job survey results with all “excellent” or “good” scores tracked by administration manager on spreadsheet.

Supply Jobs With Materials/Labor
As measured by: lead carpenter reporting jobs — reviewed monthly and at job completion by the operations manager.