Creating Measurable Accountabilities

I have spent a good deal of time over the course of a career trying to establish a basis for meaningful work plans with measurable accountabilities for club department heads.  Looking back on a long career, I would reluctantly admit that I spent too much time doing and not enough time planning and appropriately delegating.

Sure, work planning takes time, particularly if you put enough effort into it to be of value . . . and finding measurable accountabilities for department head performance seems an elusive goal.  Now, though, on the tail end of my career, I have finally found the time to give the whole matter some serious thought.

As far as work planning goes, what I expect from subordinate managers is to meet goals and budgets and to help measure their progress toward specific objectives.  To do this I find it important to establish monthly reviews of financial performance, as well as timelines and milestones toward non-monetary goals, such as developing departmental operation plans and effective training programs.

On the other side of the coin, measurable accountabilities have continued to be a challenge.  Over the years I’ve developed and deployed several versions of managers’ performance evaluation criteria.  Each ultimately proved unsatisfactory though they included a number of meaningful and worthwhile objectives such as “builds teamwork and morale,” “directs work effectively,” and “follows through and implements well.”  As good as these criteria may look on paper; they turned out to be practically meaningless as I attempted to do reviews because I had no hard evidence or objective means of measuring them.  Once again my reviews degenerated to my “gut feel” or “overall sense of things.”  Clearly measurable accountabilities continued to prove elusive.

In recent months I’ve taken another stab at finding performance criteria for which I could establish specific measurable goals.  Here’s what I’ve come up with.

On the big picture scale, I’ve broken down performance expectations for department heads into 6 major categories — leadership, management, training, performance, compliance, and member satisfaction.  These can be weighted based upon changing emphases, but must equal 100%.  Within each major category are sub-categories that can in some way be measured.  These are also weighted, again totaling 100%.  The following chart lays out the major and sub- categories, as well as the means to evaluate and who is responsible for creating the measurements.

measurable-accountabilities-3

This whole process presupposes that the club has already instituted certain disciplines such as holding monthly reviews of financials and departmental plans with each department head; measurements such as departmental and personnel benchmarks; and both member and employee surveys.

I’m sure that there may be other worthwhile things to measure and for which subordinates should be responsible, and I’m equally sure that there will be some challenges in implementing such a system.  But ultimately I believe the benefits of holding subordinate managers strictly accountable for their performance outweighs any and all challenges encountered.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

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