Entry #2: Grade Yourselves Like Your Customer

At our company we wanted to find out exactly where we had gaps in our operation—either in customer service, or other in-house areas like packaging or training—so we decided to create a simple company scorecard.

The words “company scorecard” can evoke thoughts of data gathering, spreadsheets and painful diagnosis, so we took a different approach: we asked our employees for help creating it.

We asked them to each pick 5 – 6 key attributes of our business—not just what they felt needed improvement. We ended up with over 30 suggestions, from how to package shipments to improving overall quality, so each employee picked their top 3 to 4 choices.

With some executive coaching, we whittled them down to these 6 attributes:

  1. Sales and Marketing
  2. Delivery
  3. Efficiency
  4. Capital Investments
  5. Cash Flow
  6. Quality

Now comes the difficult part of implementing actual measures, right?  Not really. We decided that instead of trying to come up with hard measures for each attribute, we would instead grade ourselves like a customer would.

Each month we rate our performance, giving ourselves an A – D letter grade.  At first I thought we’d be easy on ourselves—but we weren’t.  Thankfully we all had passing grades, but we spent most of our time discussing the mistakes that got us there.

By the forth month we had moved forward to real improvement suggestions, because when the results don’t change behaviors have to.

As CEO and principal owner I saw a bunch of suggestions we acted upon and others we dismissed as a group.  These ranged from everyday choices (new equipment purchases or changes in personnel) to much bigger ones (investing in new ERP software).

The grades are improving and we’re seeing attributable growth, all in just a few months. Just as important, we’re also seeing improved attitudes: our employees appreciate getting a good score as a result of their hard work and good choices.

In the end we learned a valuable lesson: performance measures are key but they don’t have to be difficult, just honest.

I hope you find this insight helpful,

Bill Hovey
Telemark LLC
Phone: 973-794-4857
Fax: 973-541-9449


About Dan Gallo

I'm a small business lifer, starting/running businesses since I sold seeds door-to-door as a kid in The Bronx. I've played guitar and enjoyed baseball since I was 5 (born a NY Yankees fan). Just prior to marrying Kim in 1983 I became a Christian. We have two sons; Daniel's a musician & social media expert with a smart, insightful sense of humor, and Adam who recently graduated from Brooklyn College double majoring in Creative Writing/Literature and Anthropology. Adam now works in the non-profit sector. Since 2002 one thing we love to do together is go on service/missions trips to Belize. We've collectively spent 60+ weeks in Belize with this missions organization http://twaw.org. I started my 1st company in January 1985, and been self-employed ever since. I sold my last company, Mentor Communications Group, in '04. After 2 years w/ the acquiring company I started The Allasso Group, LLC doing Small Business Consulting, Fund Raising/Capital Raise-up Campaigns, Sales Strategy, Outsourced Sales Agency work, & Digital Marketing Programs (Social Media, SEM, etc.) since April 2006. Notable projects: Hired as Small Business Advocate and Social Media Director for IBM's "Supplier-Connection" - Feb '11-Dec '13. Hired as COO to help turn-around late stage start-up software company myVRM. Jul12-Dec '13 Hired as CEO of CoupleWise.com, a Digital Health2.0 app, to write business plan, raise seed capital, & completely redesign and relaunch the app. Aug '16 I won a Finalist spot for MassChallenge UK's 2016 fall cohort in London from Sept thru Nov. Started Oct15 - Current. I enjoy helping turn-around struggling small businesses, and launching new business ventures. Feel free to contact me with opportunities.
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