How to Maximize Your Direct Report’s Performance and Make Your Leadership More Effective
In my garage, I have an orange toolbox that an old friend, Stan, gave me.
Stan was a great guy. A self-made, first-generation immigrant to the United States. He owned an apartment building in Berkeley and did the vast majority of the maintenance work himself. He gave me the toolbox as a gift, and as a bit of a hint to use the hammer, wrenches, and screwdrivers to take care of the handyman stuff around my house. Just like the tools that were in the toolbox, the 90-Day High-Performance Dashboard is also a tool that you can use for your construction business.
It aims to help you maximize the productivity of your direct reports, hold them accountable for their performance, strengthen the relationship you share with them, and ultimately, help you become a better leader.
Do You Have Direct Reports?
Are you a project executive who handles project managers? Are you a chief executive officer who has many people under your wing? It doesn’t matter whether you’re the president of a company or a superintendent. As long as you have direct reports and you find yourself searching for a way to harness their potential, then this tool can help you out.
How Does This Tool Help?
Its main objective is to help people in leadership positions to help their direct reports gain clarity, which is vital to success. After all, if you’re not following any clear roadmap, how are you going to get to your goal destination?
Aside from that, it also seeks to help in your team’s development and to open opportunities for accountability conversations. Are your direct reports consistently doing their assigned tasks? What roadblocks are they experiencing? These conversations are crucial not only in forging your relationship with your people, but it also gives you a chance to coach and mentor them.
Why 90 Days?
Here’s a query that I often get: why does it have to be 90 days? Why not only a month or two? There are two reasons:
- Doing something in 30 days puts unnecessary pressure that may cause people to give up.
- On the other hand, 60 days is still too short a time to notice any real change or progress in the system.
You can say that 90 days is the “Goldilocks spot” because it’s just right, and more so if you use this tool consistently.
The Anatomy of the 90-Day High-Performance Dashboard
Allow me to share with you the different parts of the platform to help you gain further insight into how it works.
The Rally Cry
At the very top of the dashboard is where you will find “The Rally Cry.” This is a statement of what your direct reports seek to accomplish in 90 days. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it must be crisp and motivational.
To create a rally cry, have them write a complete sentence of what they need to accomplish. Then trim this down into a statement of four to five words, being careful not to remove the essence of their goal. It should be concise and clear for you and your direct reports.
“But what if they can’t express it in just four to five words?”
You might be asking your direct reports something that they won’t be able to accomplish in just 90 days, or your team has yet to achieve the level of skill required for the task?
A client aimed to improve field productivity, and he and his direct reports created the Rally Cry: “Implement Training.”
The next part of the dashboard, after the rally cry, is the initiatives. These are the steps that your direct reports must take to achieve the rally cry. To determine your initiatives, you must first look at the roles and responsibilities of your direct reports. You must also take their current skill level into consideration. Are they fully equipped to accomplish your rally cry?
After doing so, determine the chronological order of your initiatives. I refer to this as the Domino framework. “What should come first and what task would it lead to once finished?” – and so on.
Continuing with our example of “Implement Training,” here are the initiatives they committed to:
- Build the Skill Matrix
- Pick the Training
- Schedule the Training
After determining the rally cry and the initiatives, the next part is the metrics. These are the indicators that will tell you whether effective execution of the actions is occurring.
Four Types of Metrics
There are four types of metrics:
- The leading metrics: is the indicator of the driving or “leading” mechanism towards future events.
- The lagging metrics: is the indicator of the incidents that have happened in the past.
- The coincident metrics: will tell you of the incidents that are currently happening right now, or regularly.
- Finally, the date driven metrics: are the deadlines that each member needs to meet.
These metrics are essential because they tell you what has happened, what’s currently happening, and whether your team is moving in the proper direction and will also help you determine and address the issues that affect your path to achieving the Rally Cry.
Let’s say that one of your direct reports has created the Rally Cry “Improve Safety.” An initiative is “Consistent Safety Meetings,” and the leading indicator is simply a “Yes” or “No,” have those meetings taken place? A lagging indicator related to safety is your Experience Modification Rate (EMR) that reflects your company’s injuries and accidents over the past three years. A coincident metric for safety is the number of injuries or accidents that occur every week. An example of a date-driven metric would be: “Hold first Safety Meeting by October 15”.
We have already talked about the nature of construction and how relationships are essential in building active construction businesses.
In fact, it is these relationships that will help you and your direct reports accomplish your initiatives, and of course, your rally cry. Does one of your direct reports need a coach or a mentor to point them in the right direction? Do they require other team members to help them accomplish a more significant task? How are your direct reports (and their assignments) connected? This part of the dashboard will help you make sense of the complex web of relations of your team.
Finally, the last part of the 90-Day High-Performance Dashboard is the development opportunities where your direct reports describe how they can improve. What skills do they need to acquire? What is the next step that they have to take to move forward in their careers? How can you accomplish these together?
Remember, what separates a good leader from any other person who claims to be one is the care that he or she has for his or her subordinates. I have met a lot of “leaders” who don’t seek to develop their team members simply because they’re scared their “investments” will go to waste should these people decide to leave the company later on.
This thinking is a trap that can act as a hindrance for your team (and business) to grow. Take my word for it: if your people are happy and they see a clear path of growth under your care, they will stick around for the long term.
Using the Dashboard
Now that we fully understand the potential of this dashboard let’s put it to work. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:
- Explain the dashboard to your direct reports. You may have them read this article in advance.
- Meet with your direct report, one on one, and go through each of the dashboard’s elements. Make sure that they understand each part completely. This is also a good opportunity to explain the rally cry and work out the initiatives together.
- Have them fill out the dashboard, and agree on the final version which will serve as the platform for all your one-on-one meetings for the next 90 days.
- Track the progress of the initiatives. Regularly check their metrics.
- Acknowledge each milestone. As you move through the next 90 days, remember to acknowledge each milestone that you have achieved, and finally, celebrate the achievement of the rally cry together.
Back to Stan’s Toolbox
I have to confess I am not a handyman, and most of the time, the toolbox Stan gave me lies dormant. The 90 Day High-Performance Dashboard is not a magic pill; it is a tool. Its efficiency lies in the hands that wield it. Remember that leadership is a skill as well, and it will grow with practice and experience.