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Ep 28: Accountability: Are Your People Doing What You Pay Them To Do? – Dave Stephens

What a GSR is and why it is important to both quality and growth in your business
How to use a point system in your GSRs to create black and white accountability
What a contracting business looks like before implementing GSRs vs after implementing GSRs
How you can expect your team (especially your PM’s) to respond when you introduce GSR
What a great GSR with a project manager specifically looks like
How to have a hard conversation with an employee who is underperforming

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Read a Summary of Episode 28

Nothing is more exciting than growing your company from a one-man show to a full crew, and from winning your first few jobs to being crazy-busy. But at some point uncertainty creeps in, and you find yourself asking:

Are my people doing what I hired them to do? Are they executing at the same level I did when I was doing their job? Or, are they just dead weight?

The fact is, the bigger your business gets and the more people involved, the harder it is to keep track. So how do you manage effectively at scale?

The answer is Goal Setting and Review, or GSR for short. This is a leadership tool that allows you to see whether your team is fulfilling their deliverables – and if not, what course corrections are required (you can download a free template on our BTA website to learn more).

Our guest on this episode of Contractor Evolution is Dave Stephens, president of LIDA Homes – an 8-figure custom homebuilder. Dave uses GSR at a very high level to enable his five project managers to deliver kick ass (and award-winning) results.

Let’s dive right in.


The GSR template is strategically organized so that sales, revenue, fixed/variable expenses, lead slippage, charge rates, and many other goals are noted and assigned to specific departments and their managers. Typically, the goals are reviewed weekly, and the upcoming week of goals is also discussed. This ensures performance is rigorously tracked.

“If you’re not holding your project managers accountable to standards that have been set by you and your team, you’re going to have projects go sideways,” he says. “Simple as that.”


  1. Dave breaks down every job his project managers are involved with (and that can run up to four or five jobs at a time, depending on their skill sets). “We look at items like gross profit, the project schedule, and what our material procurement looks like?” he says. “And then we get into quality control checklists.”


  2. Dave then does a deep dive into LIDA Homes labour. “We track what we expect the hours to be, where the budgets are, and then project forward based on our hourly charge out rate,” he says. If the numbers aren’t meeting expectations, specific remedial tactics can be considered.


  3. Dave conducts weekly project manager updates whereby clients are updated about the status of their projects. “We have a planned completion date, a current completion date, and the actual completion date – and we’re constantly comparing them,” he says. “We review the contract price, what’s over budget, and we list every single change recorded in every purchase order. Plus, we list anything that needs to get done moving forward.”



Dave infused his GSR with a points-based performance system that essentially grades the work of project managers. “By assigning numbers to items such as schedule, budget, site safety, and cleanliness, we make black and white all of the things a good project manager needs to do,” he says. Crunching the numbers weekly results in either performance bonuses or, when a manager falls short, consultation.



.and when someone’s performance does fall short, Dave immediately diffuses what could be a potentially confrontational situation by blaming himself for the shortcoming. “I take full ownership and apologize for not having explained my expectations properly, then I ask what can I do to help?” This puts the underperformer at ease and improves his/her receptivity to course corrections.



A high level of GSR isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay because those who can’t live up to the standards usually move on. “I’ve had people come into my office and tell me, ‘I love the system but I can’t do this, I’m going to have to resign.’ And we’ve parted amicably.”


That may cause some contractors to fear that GSR will result in their entire team quitting. But as Dave points out, “Without GSR, I would be more afraid of running a crappy project and getting sued.”

Dave is the first to admit there’s still plenty of room for improvement at LIDA. But GSR has boosted the company’s efficiency, and he can’t imagine doing business without it. “If you’re not holding your project managers accountable to standards that have been set by you and your team, you’re going to have projects go sideways,” he says. “Simple as that.”

Check out this episode of Contractor Evolution for more gold nuggets of information from Dave.

To download a free GSR template go to

Benji Carlson

Benji Carlson

As the son of two proven entrepreneurs, Benji’s spirit for self-starting business runs deep. Since he was a young teen, Benji has been starting and running profitable small businesses; most recently culminating in a highly successful 4-year career as a franchisee with College Pro Painters. Benji’s enormous heart and passion for people is what drove him to produce over $1,000,000 in revenue while taking the highest quality care of his employees and customers. He was consistently acknowledged for having the most productive staff in the company, while leading more junior franchisees to fulfill their potential. Benji’s uncanny ability to find the right people and put them in the right place make him a natural fit for Breakthrough Academy’s Assessment Team.

Upon finishing up his career with College Pro, Benji set out on the ultimate victory lap: a nine-month transcontinental motorcycle trip from Canada to Peru.

Benji lives in beautiful Kelowna BC. During the summer you’ll usually find him on two wheels: either bombing down a trail on his mountain bike or cruising the pavement on his motorcycle. When the snow falls, he escapes to the mountains for steep and deep powder.

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John larsen
9 months ago

Great stuff love to know more about the point system

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