Company Dashboards: Help Your Employees Get in the Game
authors Christopher K. Landis | May 19, 2021
That which is not measured cannot be improved. If you expect your team to contribute to the growth of your company, how can you do that without clearly setting and tracking key metrics?
That was my takeaway after reading The Great Game of Business by Bo Burlingham and Jack Stack. This is a fascinating narrative set in the 1980s about the nearly bankrupt Springfield Remanufacturing Corp, a company that refurbishes engines. Manager Jack Stack took over and created an open-book system where the employees understood the “game” and how to keep score. The book influenced our company to create two dashboards.
The management team reviews this dashboard at weekly meetings to track cash flow; design and production revenue year-to-date; design and production work in progress (WIP); and gross and net profitability. Armed with this information, they notice patterns or issues they can act on and share with employees. With a production WIP that is expressed in weeks or months, it tells us when we need to sell more projects into design. If we’re not collecting payments from a client, we need to ask the team why. The data also lets us know when we should hire new employees.
The sales and marketing team reviews the number of leads assigned to each salesperson, the number of proposals presented; sold jobs, design and construction revenue by salesperson; and total and individual work in progress (WIP). As sales manager, I like to see my team’s closing ratios from lead to proposal and proposal to sold project, and the percentage of their sales goal they have met year-to-date. If a salesperson’s ratios decrease or they are not on plan for their annual goal, I can speak to them about providing resources or training.
We share overall revenue and department revenue goals from our Annual Operating Plan with all employees during our company-wide meetings. One caveat is that you must explain what the numbers mean. If you do not, employees can feel overwhelmed and zone out, or they think the contract price of a project is the amount the company makes.
Throughout the year, each department head reports quarterly on the status of those goals. We want the department goals to trickle down, so employees know their contribution to these goals. Open-book management allows you to get actionable intelligence from your employees on how to do things faster and better—they know they can affect the figures on the dashboards.
It also helps to share when things are not going right, so the team can pull together. At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we let employees know the phone stopped ringing, and we had some clients who decided to cancel jobs. They were more understanding than if they were kept in the dark.
We also began to institute job close-out meetings with key personnel, including our CFO, the salesperson, designer, project manager and lead carpenter. We learn if the design estimate provided enough hours to design a job, which divisions met plan and which ones did not. This helps us identify trends; for example, are we assigning enough dumpsters to a job? Did someone log materials and supplies to an incorrect category or project?
After a few years of sharing financial goals with our employees, we decided to implement a job-based bonus plan. We wanted to incentivize the team to make cost-effective decisions throughout a project. We believe this transparency engenders an attitude shift: Employees feel like their contributions matter, so they think about their work differently.
With the bonuses, if you see the data and know it will have personal benefit, you are more motivated to hold yourself and the team accountable. Employees also know a successful year will bring a year-end bonus for every employee. In addition, they can see that exceeding goals means not just job and annual bonuses, but it also provides for career growth.
Finances and accounting are not the only place for transparency. We also measure customer satisfaction using GuildQuality. Every employee has a login to this service, so they can see every design and construction survey filled out by a client. We discuss the surveys with employees during their annual review.
Using GuildQuality also helps us compare customer satisfaction metrics of our company to other firms across the country. We are also members of Remodelers Advantage, where we compare management metrics with peer firms to see how we compare.
As for Springfield Remanufacturing from The Great Game of Business? The employee-owned company is successfully refurbishing engines and continues to practice open-book management. QR
Christopher K. Landis, AIA, owns Landis Construction in Washington, D.C. He brings 30 years of remodeling design, construction and management experience to this series of columns for the magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com.