Ted Capistrant and Andy Wondra with Profit Builder Network

Performance and profits featuring Ted Capistrant and Andy Wondra with Profit Builder Network

Written by John P. Palen for Minnesota Business Magazine May 2013

A new web tool helps business 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 their 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."

Tips for an accountability culture

  1. Creative Freedom: Engage your people to participate in the creation and refinement of planning.
  2. Common Format: Plans and performance tracking mechanisms need to be the same across the board, or communication will break down.
  3. Consistent Feedback: Monthly tracking by everyone involved followed by frequent formal and informal feedback from leaders.