Remodelers and their key employees know too well the reality of smaller jobs, leaner staffs, and more cost-sensitive customers. What they often don’t know is the quantifiable outcomes to which they should aspire individually, says business consultant Chris Stanton. Without greater role clarity, it can be difficult to assess performance or motivate improvement.

An antidote to unclear expectations, says Stanton, of KSG, a business development consultancy, is key accountabilities (KAs): specific and measurable outcomes that a position must produce to ensure the success of the company. The KAs can be scored, measured, and improved over time.

Tailored to each employee, and evaluated on a monthly or quarterly basis, KAs should follow a simple 1 to 4 scoring scale, he says. Evaluating them might consist of an informal “check-in” in which the manager first asks the employee to score his or her performance in areas such as:

  • Sales produced
  • Project gross margin percentage
  • Schedules met
  • Client satisfaction
  • Networking contacts made
  • Qualified leads produced
  • Quality of work

In reviewing KAs, managers should discuss how they scored their employees’ KAs as well, Stanton says. “Talk about the differential, establish a score, and most importantly, strategize how the employee can improve their performance in a specific accountability” — how to get from 2.5 to 3 in the next quarter, for instance.

The informal KA approach can be more helpful and constructive than the annual employee review, Stanton says. What’s key is clarity, consistency, and making it a habit so people always have the objective in mind and adjust their work priorities accordingly.

KAs can also help to flush out poor performers, streamline management, and hire successfully, Stanton says. If you think you need a production manager, for example, identify the position’s key accountabilities with metrics, include them in the job description, and discuss them when interviewing candidates. Hired right, he or she will get straight to work.

—Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.

The key accountability review: more helpful and constructive than the formal annual review?