Keeping track of employees' performances ensures fair wages and, in turn, a healthy bottom line.

America's 9/11 slump is over and our economy is now recovering. How much profit should you make in '04? How much wages should your employees make? How much growth should your company enjoy?

Maybe you can't answer those critical questions, but you can easily look back and analyze what you did right or wrong since 9/11/2001. Whatever you did, didn't do, could have or should have done is now history. And if you don't study your history, you will probably repeat it.

“Want More In '04? Keep Score!” is a catchy title that we will use this year. This is a win-win-win situation with no negatives:

    1. Your satisfied customers win with quality workmanship on schedule.

    2. Your employees win with personal growth, high morale, lucrative wages and the ever-so-critical personal pride.

    3. You win with a proud, productive and profitable image in your market area that attracts the best employees and repeat customers.

We're not dealing with dreams, fantasies or miracles; these are practical, common sense management practices. Some have been proven effective for decades and some are new solutions for arising situations. All of them work and none cost money. They only make money. Isn't that why you are in business?

Why Keep Score?

If you have already tried keeping score of how well each of your employees perform, you know that it is not simple or easy to do. What you are really trying to do is monitor, measure and establish a fair and equitable day's work for a fair and equitable day's wages, or eight hours work for eight hours pay.

Construction consists of a multitude of different tasks, different abilities and varying responsibilities in the office, on jobsites and on service calls. This is why we will use all 12 months of PM to clarify how you can measure and keep score with each employee. This month we will cover why you need to keep score:

  • Anyone good wants to be measured. They want to be measured fairly and rewarded accordingly. If you have an employee who objects to being measured, you need to find out why.

  • Construction and service are very competitive industries. You have large and small established contractors, as well as the newcomers and moonlighters trying desperately to win those same jobs that you need to survive. Some are very well organized and many are fly-by-night jacklegs, but all of you have one thing in common: If you spend more on a project that you have in your contract, you will not make it. Every single penny you pay out in wages must be constantly monitored and measured.

    Your employees need to realize how much their competitive efforts control your bottom line profits as well as their own wages, benefits and career potential.

  • Recognition and appreciation - These are two of the most important words in human relations in our working and personal lives. Why would you go out of your way to do something nice for someone who did not show appreciation for that effort or gesture?

    It is easy to understand why you need to monitor, measure and keep score to insure constant recognition for each employee's performance. Let's look at the plight of today's typical construction worker.

    A young man graduates from high school and decides to go into construction. He spends four years in apprenticeship, or college, and at 22 aims for his career goals. At 25 he is an experienced journeyman, foreman, superintendent, project manager or estimator by his choice. He has accomplished his career goal and, unfortunately, already reached his top wage potential with 40 more years left to work.

    Either he starts thinking about that or he gets married and his wife begins asking embarrassing questions. He decides that he can change his plight with extra effort. Surely “the more you do” will result in “the more you make,” right?

    He gives a 110 percent effort for one full month. He starts early, works through coffee breaks, grabs a quick sandwich at lunchtime and quits late. He value-engineers every task to find the fastest and cheapest method. He carefully controls tool and equipment use and maintenance. And he runs in high gear all day trying to get more accomplished.

    At the end of that month's diligent effort, what changed? Absolutely nothing! So he decides to try the other route. He gives a 60 percent effort for the next month.

    He comes in late, takes long coffee breaks and goes to a restaurant for his extended half-hour lunch break. He quits early without picking up tools or scattered materials. He spends most of the day slowly walking for tools, materials and potty calls. And he uses all of those time-tested excuses: 1) Not enough fittings; 2) Not enough tools; 3) Another sub in his way; 4) General contractor changed his mind; and 5) No gas for the jobsite welder, pump or compressor.

    At the end of that month's negative efforts, what changed? Again, absolutely nothing!

    We now have an intelligent and experienced employee in his mid- to late-20s who found out that 110 percent effort and 60 percent effort will produce exactly the same results. With 40+ years left to work in this tough and demanding industry, which route do you think he chooses? That's what we call the “twilight zone.”

  • Without a scorecard, new employees (especially women) have no chance to compete and prove how well they can perform and how much they should earn.

  • Your scorecard, with equitable reward, will eliminate the de-motivating effect of negative peer pressure and sucker shots, such as brown noser, suck-up, company man, apple polisher, etc.

  • When your employees realize that they control the amount written on their own paycheck, you will hear only from the bragging winners and not the complaining losers. Keeping score is parallel to a teacher checking his or her records to determine what grade each student has earned.

  • Can you remember saying or hearing from your own children, “Hey Dad, look at me!” If dad weren't interested, how much would any child show him what they could do? Now you have become the “dad” for all of your employees. Your scorecard will prove that you are definitely looking and very interested in their performances.

    As you review these reasons why you need to keep score, you will agree that your good employees need and want this even more than you do. You also need to ask yourself why not? Some of you may not wish to disturb that established twilight zone!

    Keep in mind, you have to be fair. Keeping a realistic scorecard for what each employee does in a construction company is naturally very complex. But with today's computers, keeping score is much easier than it used to be.

    My message to you is quite clear - if you want more in 2004, you have to keep score. Your message to your employees will also become very clear - the more you do, the more you make. Contact me if you have questions about measuring and keeping score.