How Our Employees Ignore Our Attempt At Systems


From original questioner:

I have two great employees that are honest,hardworking,well paid and get along with each other. My clients are always commenting how they are great to have around, courteous, and are eager to help other trades on an install with tools,or co-ordinating . It seems few plumbers in south Florida have hole saws and are afraid to touch the interiors of our cabinets and electricians cannot drill a hole to run a wire anymore. As an owner, I am often frustrated by my guys forgetting a tape measure or pencil or throwing bits into the several installation bags and then searching for them later. Fast cap tape rolls and masking tape rolls are left to collect dust and I can put together a collection of #2 square drive or positive bits that would weigh 5 lbs by simply dumping the bags upside down on the floor. As owners, we have to know when to pick our battles and we each have our level of tolerance and good workers are hard to find. Although I would love them to think like me, and I encourage organization, after 34 years in this business, I don't expect it and it is probably unreasonable to expect it, but I would appreciate any anecdotes or stories from other owners on this subject. They can be serious or funny stories, but I know we all go through these tribulations, or perhaps it's just me. Looking forward to hearing your responses, Harold.

From contributor La

I have a couple of organized employees, then there are the other dozen! I've even tried various incentives, they last for a few minutes.

From contributor Mi

And all this time I thought it was just me!

The biggest thing I've found is that at the end of an install my guys are wanting to get out of there and go HOME! Both of my guys know where all the tools go. Because "if you guys will put the tools back in their place we won't have to hunt for them on the next install and we get done faster which means we get to go home faster, can't you guys do the math"??? Evidently not... Anymore I just shake my head and laugh, I guess because they've been with me for years and are good at what they do and are some of my best friends. So from time to time I just organize everything in the truck.

From contributor Da

Good question. First thing is to ask yourself if it matters, or if it is something that just bugs you. If you see it out of proportion to the reality. We all have 'em.

In light of that, there may well be things you do that bug them.

You may try getting a conversation going about a thing that bugs you, admit it may be a bit unreasonable ("Obviously I'm being unreasonable, because if it were truly a problem you would see the wisdom of correcting it."), and volunteer to change your behavior on one of their pet peeves. Quid pro quo, as they said in Rome.

I see things like this with my help, but try to sit back and see if it is worth harassment or not. That is, they see it as harassment, I don't. Recently, on an install, a #1 Phillips was needed, and a canvas 'bag o' bits' was rummaged thru. Probably 250 bits in there - no telling how many were rounded off, broken, or just plain duplicates of the no more than 6 that were actually needed. And of course, nearly impossible to find the one that was needed. I just smiled and said "that is probably something that we can improve on."

Next time out, I'll make sure that it is improved on before leaving. For this guy, it is an old habit of a site carpenter to keep everything and haul it around from place to place instead of storing it orderly and minimally in order to pull only what is need and just a bit more. But those old habits die hard.

From contributor Ha

You are right David. Old habits do die hard, but mike is also right that the time wasted is a waste and we sometimes have to return to a job the next day that is 26 miles away with lots of traffic for a half hour of work because you have to be out of the condo by 4:30 or 5:00pm.
I was in HD last week and there was a great special on a box of assorted bits and a magnetic bit holder that was worth getting for the Hugh number of bits and the snap close case. They were 6.00 and had 30.00 worth of bits in each one. I bought a set for each of my two guys and they were thrilled. After one installation, the boxes were trashed and all the bits are mixed up in the Bosch bags or festool boxes and they can't find the magnetic bits. When it came time to attach the front panel to the Miele DW, they couldn't find the torx bit, even thoughnitvwas part of the new kits I just got them. I have been in this business for 34 years and I can only sit back and laugh at this point, but I thought it might make an interesting thread. Harold.

From contributor La

Harold, sounds normal. We don't do a lot of installs but have dedicated tool boxes for them. Doesn't matter! Stuff disappears from them never to be found again.

From contributor Da

I know your frustration. It seems that for some people these things are cherished behaviors that they will never see as a problem, or something to be improved upon. What always bothered me was it made me wonder what other terrible, wasteful things they did on the clock that were costing us all money.

But then you can count your blessings. I once had the local police show up and haul away two guys. They had spent their lunch hour going to 3 different flower shops, stealing roses from each to give to their girlfriends on Valentines day. Just grabbed them and ran.

They were gone for a few days...... I have heard about immigration showing up and hauling off entire shops. 'Tis a big ol' goofy world, as John Prine would sing.

From contributor jo

Simple, each employee needs a "daily routine checklist". It is a paper checklist that outlines everything you need them to do each day. They turn it in daily and each day you print out a new one, and you update it as needed. You might have subcategories like: "Prepare for install" 1- is there gas in the truck 2-do you have your tape measure 3- current plans 4- screw box is packed and filled to 75% of capacity etc. Sounds goofy, but it works. We have and are developing one for every employee-including the owner! It works; you can hold people accountable and stop doing the thinking for them. Good luck.