One of my favorite management quotes is: “I have never met a confused employee who is productive.” Organizations often use job descriptions to let employees know what is expected from them, and this is a good start. However, by itself, a job description rarely is enough. Another important step is setting specific, measurable performance objectives with a realistic timeline for completion. However, even this is not enough to insure clarity of expectations.

The clarity that employees want and need can be provided by using two additional tools: a competency sheet and an accountability grid. (See examples in links at the end of this column.) These tools need to be produced in cooperation with the staff doing each job and the manager overseeing them, and they need to be reviewed and updated quarterly.

The competency sheet is a detailed list of all the competencies required for a particular job. For example, a front desk associate’s competency sheet would include the ability to use all the functions of the company phone system along with using all functions of the member management check-in screen and point-of-sale system. The more detailed the competency sheet, the better, so that a new employee knows exactly what he or she must learn.

The accountability grid is related to the job competency sheet, but it is distinct. The grid is a detailed list of all daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual tasks required for each job within an organization. (Not all jobs require all these categories.) This tool provides the structure that new employees want and need. This technique is similar to a football coach calling the first 25 plays of a game to take some pressure off the quarterback and get him into the rhythm of the game.

The accountability grid also provides other benefits. It insures that management understands the functions of each job in detail so that when turnover occurs, the ball does not get dropped. It also provides an opportunity to coach employees on their time management and organizational processes. In addition, by combining several grids for several positions within a department so that all tasks for the department are on one sheet, you can optimize workflow for maximum efficiency.

You will need to set up competency sheets and accountability grids that make sense for your club, but for examples of each, click on the links below.

Greg Maurer is an associate partner with New Paradigm Partners. He can be reached at greg@maurer3.com