Perspectives

Planning pros: Ted Capistrant (left) and Andy Wondra

Performance and profits

A new web tool helps businesses improve communication — and accountability

Every great leader has skills and processes to ensure team accountability and achievement. Now, a Minnesota operations specialist has found a way to bottle such skills, he says, into an effective tool that aligns performance with profits. Ted Capistrant spent decades leading teams and ensuring efficient operations at Minnesota companies such as Securian and Marsden Building Maintenance. Then he started his own consulting practice with partner Andy Wondra and proceeded to help business owners improve the bottom line.

Their company, Profit Builder Network (PBN) in St. Paul, is a thought leader in team alignment and organizational development. Recently it launched a web-enabled tool that, when used for strategic planning, tracking, and communication with employees, is designed to be like having the PBN team at the helm of your company's operations.

"There needs to be a performance feedback loop," says Capistrant. "Leaders need to plan, track the action and progress to the plan, then provide the necessary feedback consistently to ensure that people meet expectations and achieve results."

PBN built its web-enabled tool last year. Called Tracking Action, it allows owners to create concise company master, department, and individual business plan summaries. "They must fit on one page and be read and understood in five minutes or less, or even the author will never read it again," says Capistrant.

Each plan includes measurable key performance indicators and milestones that are tracked each month with a high level performance dashboard. An unlimited number of employees can create their own plan, tied to each other's plans, for building a platform of cascading goals to meet the company's overall objectives. Management can review and score each employee on his or her progress within the system. This closes the performance feedback loop. "The system is used in weekly review meetings to acknowledge progress and keep everyone accountable," says Wondra.

While many companies could benefit by hiring a planning expert to demonstrate the proper way to facilitate and utilize a great system, it normally takes years of practice to master the planning and execution process. "We take the complexity out of it because our system is set up for management down to employees," Wondra says.

One of the most significant aspects to formalizing an organizational development process is that progress is tracked historically, revealing not only the value of each employee but also the self-sufficiency of the organization. This data could become significant when owners are ready to sell, because the value of talent is measurable, adding to the company's profit potential in the eyes of buyers.

Reaching goals and increasing profits is easier when everyone in the organization moves in the same direction. When employees understand their roles in that equation, you also improve retention. Capistrant says, "Our gratification comes from comparing our clients' bottom line before and after they adopt our principles and the Tracking Action system."

Bio

JOHN P. PALEN is CEO of Allied Executives (jppalen@alliedexecutives.com) and works with CEOs, business owners, and executive leaders on leadership development and business performance improvement through peer groups, coaching, and educational workshops.

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