JASON GROW

When the game of business changes, the rules change too. Job descriptions and employee reviews go hand-in-hand in helping you get the best from each player on your team and winning the game.

Chances are, you’ve made some staff changes and adjustments and have redistributed (and maybe even redefined) some tasks and responsibilities. Even if not, the end of the year is a great time to rework job descriptions and communicate changes and their related expectations to your team.

Be Clear

Most remodelers do not have written job descriptions, much less revise them with every staff change. Clearly, eliminating staff requires remaining team members to take on additional responsibilities. Never assume that they know what they’re supposed to do, much less how to perform any new duties.

Create or revise job descriptions with two purposes in mind: to consider all tasks that must be done and make sure that each task is assigned to the people on your org chart; and to describe what you expect of each position and how you will measure performance.

For example, it would be inadequate to simply say that a production manager is responsible for monitoring each job’s costs and produced gross profit margins. Instead, specify that success will be measured by the achievement of a specific margin — say, 42% — for all work produced.

If you are serious about the performance of your business, write and/or revise your own job description. This will help you clarify your commitment to the business effort, for the benefit of yourself as well as your staff. Share your job description and your commitments with your team, and encourage them to hold you accountable. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander!

Communicate Changes

Think of job descriptions as communication tools. Review each with the appropriate team member, making sure that he or she understands your expectations going forward and how his or her performance will be measured.

Avoid subjective measurements (for instance, for a lead carpenter, “Customers on your projects will be happy with our company’s services”). Instead, incorporate a post-project surveying method that has an objective scoring system. Require your lead carpenters to maintain at least an 85% average score. Specific goals and well-worded survey questions will reveal where he is doing well and where he needs to improve.

After reviewing and confirming job descriptions with each employee, review everyone’s job descriptions in a team meeting. This will help the team see one another’s contributions and responsibilities, understand interdependencies, and identify anything that might have been overlooked.

At the same meeting, schedule a performance review with each employee. Reviews should happen within no more than 60 to 90 days, to show that you are serious.

At those reviews, use the written job descriptions as a point of reference to discuss performance, establish whether the employee is getting the support and mentoring he needs, and identify where he needs additional training and guidance. While you’re at it, ask the employee how he thinks you’re doing meeting your job description as the owner.

Your first scheduled review should be your own, by the way. As the business owner, you should see the new year as a reason to commit to either owning the team or being part of it. Your choice will have a dramatic impact on how you manage and how your staff buy in.

A team is a group of individuals working together toward a common goal. Each team member should be clear about the big picture for your company as well as his or her individual responsibilities.

—Shawn McCadden founded, operated, and sold a successful design/build company. A co-founder of the Residential Design/Build Institute and former director of education for a national K&B remodeling franchise, Shawn speaks at industry events and consults with remodeling companies. shawnm@charter.net.