The Monthly Accountability & Planning Cadence - Part 1

We all want those A-players who own their work and their team, consistently hit their numbers and get results, and handle problems without you ever even hearing about them.

But how do you get there?

These questions float around in our mind every time we see someone executing brilliantly… somewhere else. We ask ourselves:

  • How do I find a person like that and hire them?

  • How do I pay them?

  • What do I offer them?

The reality is finding these players, ready to go, is extremely rare. They have already found their space, they are dominating, and if they are as good as you think they are - they don’t want to move because they’ve mastered their space and reaping the rewards. They’ve done the hard work, and need a very good reason to do it again for you. 

The truth is… you build these players. 

Below is a single ingredient in the recipe for building killer operators that execute and succeed: The Monthly Accountability & Planning Cadence

The Play

So here is a secret to humanity that is immediately obvious once you hear it… people hate looking bad in front of others. This leads to phenomena such as ‘peer pressure’ and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. 

You can harness this in order to push your team, prime their competitiveness, and hone their focus on the business.

Take your company and divide into somewhat equal sections. You can do plants, divisions, product categories, companies - or if you are a small company with no discernible break, you can use roles. 

You then hold a monthly meeting after the books are closed in which each person has to

  • explain their results (preferably p&l and cash-flow based)

  • walk through problems

  • defend their decisions

… against a team or board of overseers. 

This simple setup creates an amazing combination of factors that work together to create great operators. Some include:

  • Public Accountability: You don’t need to call out someone’s underperformance when you have a public accountability meeting with peers - human nature does it for you. Poor performers will either figure it out and get back in the game, or drop out completely - no one will continue to show up underperforming for long. 

  • Operational & Financial Intelligence: Once you know you’ll be drilled on your performance, you quickly begin to develop an understanding of your financials, what got them there, and what you can do to influence them. I tried to get a manager to watch their labor costs for months. After having them come to 1 of our monthly meetings, he immediately sent an email asking a number of questions about bonuses, accruals, direct labor insurance, and more… funny how that happened.

  • Competition: We all want to be number one, we can’t help it. Reviewing performance and seeing others do better than you can kick you into hyperdrive to try to win on the next review. For this reason, we cover scaled metrics as much as possible (as opposed to nominal). You should see the creativity and experimentation that gets rolling once you set yourself on ‘winning’ next month.

  • Elimination of Excuse Culture: When you hear a number of problems from peers, and yet still see results, it removes your ability to use excuses… instead you realize ‘I need to own this, figure it out, and still execute to performance.’ You can’t teach this, only a public accountability meeting can enforce and develop this. 

  • Development of Peer Groups: As you start hear others talk of what they achieved and how they go there, you develop respect for others on the call. You might even start reaching out occasionally to ask a question, get an idea, or hash out something new. Monthly Accountability meetings combined with quarterly or semi annual off-sites will build a peer group that drives performance and offloads it from yourself. 

So how do you run these for the team?

I’ll share our method below which we’ve used to create an optimal atmosphere to obtain the benefits mentioned above.


The first thing we need to do is arm our leadership with the data to fully understand their division and its results. While there are parts they may know from simply being there all month, there are other aspects that aren’t quite so clear - so we create a number of deliverables for them in anticipation of the monthly review. 

Financial Statements

Each manager has access to the financials. However, we create a version combined with analysis on growth, breakeven analysis, opportunity areas, cash flow breakdowns, and key metrics for them. This packet comes to about 15 pages and has everything they need to get a full view of their operation and its health. 

Expense Breakdown and Analysis

The report above is summary data and statistics, and it will surely raise some questions for a good manager. We also get them key information like expenses by category for the month so they can see where the money went, how much things cost and compare to other months. This is a massaged but literal export of invoices paid for the month.

Driving Resource Metrics

Most businesses have 100s of expense types, but only a few that really drive the company, and even less that you can actively control for an outcome. We call these Driving Resources, resources that are the main lever of the operation. These resources, their quantity, and their activity are important inputs into the monthly planning cycle for the companies, so we gather these up. Some examples for different businesses might include

  • Number of production workers

  • Number of trucks

  • Picks per person per day

  • Installs per truck

Each of these requires a key investment or resources to expand. Understanding how well you are utilizing these resources, and being ready to adjust them when the time comes is what differentiates a profitable plant,  from an under-resourced plant which can’t grow, form an unprofitable plant with too many resources for its current activity level. 

Labor Breakdowns

We pull reports from payroll to give the manager key breakdowns on who got OT and how much. These top level numbers go into the financial report above, but many mangers like a breakdown to dive into as well.

Set The Meeting

You need to set a monthly meeting a few days after the close of the month to review the financials with the leadership.

Each person with P&L responsibility should be present in these meetings in order to review their company or division, and ‘defend’ their company and decisions. 

Round Table

This is the core of the meeting where we go around person to person and go through the plant’s month. The manager is responsible for presenting their company and walking us through their financials. This tends to take the following form:

  • Walk through their P&L

  • Comment on targets and where hit/missed

  • Give reasons for both

  • Discuss resources that were used or needed

  • Replay key decisions and why they were made

From here, Reg and myself will ask them more questions that drive them towards problem solving, execution, and quality decisions. The goal is to have them feel some heat, see where they could have done better, and turn the misses into opportunities to improve in the coming month. 

This meeting is about the long game of improvement, training, reinforcement, accountability, and shifts from month to month. The power of this meeting is measured in years.

Learning Theme

Each month, we choose a ‘theme’ to drill in on. These are lessons we want driven into our culture, not just tactical ideas. By building them into our monthly review, it is one more opportunity to continually reinforce the ideas that we believe are bedrock to our success. We usually look for something from the last month to reinforce the idea while also giving an attaboy to the doer. 

Some examples of concepts we come back to again and again include

  • Starve the system

  • Sustainable profits from sustainable efforts

  • Do it right the first time

  • People + Plans + Execution = Results

By combining these ideas with recent wins we can reinforce culture while continually training on the various perspectives and nuances of each of these ideas.


A key part of this setup is to make sure there is something on the line for performing that is hard and time-capped.

We co-create plans around each plant with set expectations on what they will achieve. Not every plant, division, or area is the same. Based on these self directed and unique plants, we hold you accountable to agreed upon results.

  1. If you miss 3 times, you are moved to probation for another 3 months which has its own, unique cadence.

  2. If you still achieve performance, you are then relieved of the leadership position, and we place someone else there. 

This hard consequence combined with public accountability assists in driving performance and pushing their ownership of the division and thus innovation in running the operation.

The output of this meeting then becomes the last piece of the input for the Planning phase of the monthly review. The numbers, discussion, feedback, and peer reviews all feed the next set of decisions and actions for the leader to execute on.

Next week I’ll review the monthly planning process so our team can ensure they are profitable. 


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