View Full Version : Employee Responsible?

10-02-2011, 04:43 PM
I am looking for some honest opinions on two particular instances that have happened recently. Would you hold the employee resonsible?...

(1) The operator running our mini excavator ran over the demo saw, crushing it. Clearly did not check his surroundings before getting in the machine, nevermind before he reversed. What would you do?

(2) I have been very busy in the office latley, leaving the crew to do the installs mostly on their own. The guy I left in charge just completed a small raised patio project. After my review I discovered that all the pavers were about 1/4 inch BELOW the retaining wall blocks in one corner. Well it rained the day I met with the customer for a walkthorugh and yup you guessed it, IT PUDDLED, a lot...I turned to the customer before she could even say anything and told her I would be back after the weekend to fix it and make it perfect. So, now I have the same crew in addition to myself making repairs. Extimated 1 day worth of work...What would you do?

10-02-2011, 04:45 PM
train them better.

10-02-2011, 04:55 PM
His excuse..."it was raining and we were behind schedule, just wanted to finish it up for you boss, I want happy with the result either"

Then why leave it if you wernt happy with it??? I simple phone call to let me know "hey were going to need another day over here to finsh up boss, sorry we didnt meet schedule"

10-02-2011, 05:10 PM
I would tell the guy in charge he can come with me to work on it on a day off or he can look for a new job. No more excuses

DVS Hardscaper
10-02-2011, 05:12 PM
There's not a thing you can do.

Chalk it up as a lesson learned.

First of all, tell us: How long have YOU been doing hardscapes???

You may need to train your guys better. And training and teaching are not the same thing in my mind.

I teach my guys. I explain to them that I know all the things that clients will complain about. And I explain these things as I see them coming into the equation.

Also, you're guys may be like my guys and everyone else's employees. DUMB. You get what you pay for. A few weeks ago I made a comment about dealing with employees. And someone responded with something like "how on earth could you even think of saying that?" Well......seriously, for $10 -$15 per hour WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GETTING????

As far as the saw - sorry for your luck dude. Most state's labor laws do not allow you to withhold money for damages, losses, etc.

And really, you can't even make them fix the work payfree. You have to pay them to fix it.

Lesson learned for you. Believe me, I have to endure hard learned lessons about once a month. How else do you think I became so great? We can't learn if we do not mess up.


10-02-2011, 06:10 PM
All you can do is write them up and put a copy in their employee file. However before you write anybody up you should make sure that you have a clearly written employee manual and operation policy that your guys have signed off on. If you don't then you should consider one along with a formal disciplinary plan. Spending a few hundred dollars with an labor law attorney now will save you a lot of cost and headache later. Those things are the only thing that will save your butt when you finally terminate the guy and he gets an attorney and comes after you for something.... and trust me, he will.

10-02-2011, 06:31 PM
DVS - Good response. Pretty much nailed it on the head.

I myself have only been doing this for about 5 years. Not an expert but I consider myself pretty knowledgable in hardscapes. I TRY to teach my employees the things, above and beyond correct installation techniques, that makes a customer happy. I agree that this is not rocket science and there really isn't much good help out there. Everyone wants to show up to work, do what they have to do, and go home at the end of the week with a pay check. Bummer, but it is what it is.

The laws do prevent me from holding any pay for damages. However, the lessons in this situation will be noted and used at a later date if need.

As a side note, If you dont mind me asking, how much is everyone paying for a crew leader on a hardscape crew? And do you require them to have ICPI, NMCA, hoisting, CDL, etc?

10-02-2011, 06:55 PM
Use incentives.

Pay a small but worth while bonus for a job well done.

In both of these cases I'd tell them that I don't even have to explain why there is no job bonus or monthly bonus for them.

An extra $100 here or there goes a long way with an employee that is trying to do their best.
If they aren't trying it may help them try harder to get the bonus.

Lets just say that you implement a $200 monthly bonus for being on time, jobs completed right and not destroying equipment.
You don't want to pile on too many things or achieving the bonus will look impossible to do and they won't even try.
Make the amount too small and it'll have the same result..... not worth the effort.

10-02-2011, 09:59 PM
Just a demo saw, thats not too bad. Just have them be aware of what a new one cost and tell them to open their eyes next time. Ya nothing you can do, you'll have to figure out if they are worth having around or not. Crew leaders are 24 and 25 respectively. But now we are down to one crew and I can't reduce the pay so I'm paying almost 50 an hour for two guys on the same crew.

10-02-2011, 10:06 PM
1) Buy a nwe saw
2) Make that job right

Then I would get off your axx and run your business properly.

DVS Hardscaper
10-02-2011, 10:06 PM
yeah, be glad it was only a saw. Many company's employees total trucks.


DVS Hardscaper
10-02-2011, 10:23 PM
The reason I axed about how long u bean doin this is because there is a HUGE difference between knowing the basics of paver installation and knowing whether or not a crew really knows why and what they're doing.

Most guys on a crew know how to start a compacted and compact gravel.

Most guys on a crew know how to measure, mark, and cut a paver.

Most guys on a crew know how to brush sand in the paver joints.

But most do not have any clue or understanding of why and how in regards to logistics. I have had guys come to work for me with 8 yrs of paver install experience. Yeah they know how to click and drop. But they don't know anything else. They don't know anything about measuring elevations. They dont know anything about planning for when the job is said and done where the top of the pavers should end up at.

I had a guy work with me who's block would never match up. 15 yrs experience. If we did a raised patio the block on the left side would be right where I set the grade, and the block 30 feet away on the right side would be 3/4" lower!!!

And the same guy would always have wavey paver joint lines!

I could go on and on with stories.

I have done some house cleaning this year. And at the same time I told my guys "I know you're used to doing things certain ways without me saying anything, but from here on out we're building patios my way. And I am going to teach you how and why, and you're going to learn stuff you never knew. So far so good, our block are ending up at the EXACT same grades. Our paver joints are STRAIGHT again. My guys are asking questions, as they've realized no one has ever TAUGHT them what to do.

I have one guy that is as mouthy as can be. Oh sometimes I could fire him! But his work is excellent and I'm really proud of the end results lately.

I disagree. This work is a science. I do NOT understand how an owner can not be on the jobsites checking up on the work at least twice a day. I've been in this hardscape business for 15 years. And I would NEVER dream of being an absentee owner. I know some here have production managers that oversee things. Still, a production manager does not share the same vision and passion that an owner has. Lets say a production manager does not catch a problem. What are you going to do? You can't take it out of his/her pay. You can yell and scream. But that won't recover the expense of re-doing the work. You can fire him/her and train a whole new manager.

I usually make my guys do extra push ups when they screw up.



10-03-2011, 07:47 AM
I usually make my guys do extra push ups when they screw up.



i havnt seen that method detailed in the ICPI literature? are we talking diamond pushups or one handed?


10-03-2011, 10:36 AM
I agree with just about everyone here. I was really just looking for some input in regards to how YOU would handle things, so thank you for those who gave me constructive input.
I agree with DVS in the fact that if an owner cant check up on the jobs being installed by his guys at least every other day, they dont have what it takes to run a succussful company (some exceptions for larger companies maybe).

I set up this job, elevtions, all paper work neccessary to complete the job, and lined all deliveries up. The job only took 2 days so I let them complete it on their own. LESSON LEARNED, the're just not ready to be alone.

Thanks again guys.

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
10-03-2011, 07:20 PM
1) Buy a nwe saw
2) Make that job right

Then I would get off your axx and run your business properly.

Great post! It sounds like he is running his business properly with a few dimwitted employees at best. I'm getting sick of the perfect owners on this site. What a JOKE!:hammerhead:

10-03-2011, 09:08 PM
Great post! It sounds like he is running his business properly with a few dimwitted employees at best. I'm getting sick of the perfect owners on this site. What a JOKE!:hammerhead:
Im solo operator, but at 46 I can say I have enough life and business experience to know that the starter of this thred tends not to be in the feild and he should be. I can say a saw and several hundred dollares extra in expenses on a job will be common. No owner and no job is ever perfect, so dont get sick. Common sense will tell you never leave a job thats not properly finished, the tim this feller spent explaining about the standing wat
er could have been spent making sure the job was properly finished.

I wasnt trying to be a axx hole just stating my opinion.

10-03-2011, 11:35 PM
comment deleted

J.Z.Smith Landscaping
10-10-2011, 03:22 PM
Some days S**T happens. Not much you can do to prevent it. Its how you deal with it after that makes the difference. Remember we can try to be perfect but the truth is no ones perfect. Have a meeting about it. Cover the problem in depth with your crew and how they can avoid it so there isn't a next time. Thats what I do. It generally helps. They have to learn some things on there own and the only way there going to do that is if you keep giving them responsibilitys and not micro manage. Just check on them periodically and give them constructive criticism. As for incentives for your employees,In my opinion just having a job should be a good enough incentive. Its not like they intentionally caused any of those problems. some times its just pure ignorance. You handled the job and the customer right by going back and fixing it. Sucks because it hurts your credibility some times. When things happen like that with my crews I am the first one to take the blame and also the responsibility. It is my company after all and I'm 100% responsible for every single part of it. But good job. Hope they get better for you and I hope this helped.

10-10-2011, 05:56 PM
i havnt seen that method detailed in the ICPI literature? are we talking diamond pushups or one handed?


LOL now thats what I am talking about!!

gammon landscaping
10-11-2011, 01:24 AM
chew some ass!