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  #1  
Old 02-19-2013, 11:15 AM
seabee24 seabee24 is offline
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should I let employees make important choices?

all season long last year I had all kinds of bad employees, with all kinds of problems.


This year, Im writing a hand book. I need some imput on a few things.

I realise this is lawnsite but the ulimate question is still the same. Do I allow them to make judgement choices that are important, or do I make those choices?

This morning we had snow, in my opinion the salt driver left at least 1 hour later than he should have. We have a rule that all properties are checked every mornign no later than 8 am. And that if you need to do salting service, you need to plan that, and thus start sooner. our route takes 2.5 hours to drive, assuming that you dont have to salt, and it takes 4 hours if you salt everyone.

I have trying to be nice and let them make judgement choices so that they could sleep in, because 9 out of 10 days no service is needed.

I notice larger companies tent not to take the chance, their start time is set in stone. period.


I also have a similar problem with lunch breaks. I had a crew, eveytime i pulled up they claimed they were on lunch. 11 am, 10:30 am, 1 pm.

I know larger companies have set lunch breaks. meaning company wide from 12-12:30 is lunch. and if your taking a break outside that time frame and the supervisor pulls up, its not pretty for everyone.

I personally like giving the guys the opertunity to stop when they want. If they pass by a fast food station, they can stop. But again I feel like last year i was taken advantage of with this?

The larger companies have fixed times, and fixed policys because its easier to manage, and track. Payroll is easier, and it just eliminates finger pointing, and any other problems.

so three questions?

1. do i allow these guys to sleep in, and make a judgement call. or do i set in stone 4:00am is the starting time every day.?

2. lunch breaks- set in stone time (unless they get approval) or do I allow them flexibility?

3. over all - do i allow crew leaders to make choices like this, or do i write a strict handbook that more or less spells out day for day on what will happen?
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  #2  
Old 02-19-2013, 11:27 AM
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LandFakers LandFakers is offline
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should I let employees make important choices?

1.I say you make the call as to if they should or not. Maybe have them on call, and if need be call them at 3:30 and say be in by 4 if you have the slightest idea that properties may need salting.
2. Lunch breaks are tough. I would say allow a lunch break anytime between 12-1, of a half hour only. So if they get done at a property at 12:15 they stop and take a half hour or any time aslong as its between the times of 12-1. This will allow flexibility but also strictness. This will remove the 10:30 lunch problem
3. Have company policies! A handbook Is a must, it provides the people with the knowledge of what to do, an they can call you if there is something they aren't sure of.
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  #3  
Old 02-19-2013, 11:39 AM
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turf hokie turf hokie is offline
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Lunch times are a bit of grey area when it comes to telling them when to take one imho. I would think they would take one at about the same time everyday, depending on where they are on the route relative to a food stop. If they always seem to be on lunch break, follow them around (randomly) and stay out of sight so they dont know you are there. I know a ton of guys that will follow crews around to make sure they are not milking the clock.

Snow is another story, I would NEVER put the decision making process in the hands of crew leaders/drivers when it comes to snow, too much liability and responsibility to let them sleep in a bit or use their judgement. Set a time and make them adhere to it.

A handbook is a good idea if you are going to enforce ALL of it, once you let one aspect of the handbook slide it takes the teeth out of the remaining policies.

Why do you go out everyday for ice watch? Do you have a lot of melt and refreeze? do you get to charge for this service?
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  #4  
Old 02-19-2013, 07:34 PM
seabee24 seabee24 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf hokie View Post
Lunch times are a bit of grey area when it comes to telling them when to take one imho. I would think they would take one at about the same time everyday, depending on where they are on the route relative to a food stop.


Why do you go out everyday for ice watch? Do you have a lot of melt and refreeze? do you get to charge for this service?
Well some melt re-freeze. we have properties that have gutters and drainage issues off the roofs. but mostly we do this for security and piece of mind for the property managers. we are able to bill back some of the work to clients, others it goes as part of a seasonal contract. we do not make money on it really, we break even, however I sell contracts because of this, we have low liablity, and in the winter our guys are on salary, anyway so the labor is already paid for.

as for lunch it does change every day. now our properties are very close together. most our routes can be driven from start to finish in less than 15 miles. Thus going 1/2 mil out of our way to stop for food is kind unexcpetable to me. I dont mind them stopping as they pass by, but not driving off route to get it.

now the funny thing, the crew i was talking about was a landscape crew. they didnt travel. they are on the same site all day long. most of the crew shows up dirrectly to the site. but like i said, I pull up and people are standing around- "on lunch"

for that situation GPS wouldnt help

I use SAP, and i was hoping that they would have their time card systm figured out, thus before you pull up to s site you should know the status if if the crew is clocked in or not. problem SAP does have their stuff together, and im not thinking they will for at least 9 months.
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  #5  
Old 02-19-2013, 07:38 PM
seabee24 seabee24 is offline
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But really those are just 2 of many issues and questions.

So what I wanted to really know is in general - should i be nice to the crew, let them make judgment choices and hope they will be grown men and think?

or should i run a tight ship, make all the choices for them, plan everything, put it in the handbook and fire them if they dont follow the rules.

part of my 3 goals this year is to find, and create a good, moral, happy, and re-usable work force that can be used again the following season.

The good guys really dont need strict rules. and i would like ot keep them happy.

its the rotten apples that need the rules. and ill be hiring almost half new persons this year so you never know what i will end up with.
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  #6  
Old 02-19-2013, 08:15 PM
JeffInTexas JeffInTexas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seabee24 View Post
But really those are just 2 of many issues and questions.

So what I wanted to really know is in general - should i be nice to the crew, let them make judgment choices and hope they will be grown men and think?

or should i run a tight ship, make all the choices for them, plan everything, put it in the handbook and fire them if they dont follow the rules.

part of my 3 goals this year is to find, and create a good, moral, happy, and re-usable work force that can be used again the following season.

The good guys really dont need strict rules. and i would like ot keep them happy.

its the rotten apples that need the rules. and ill be hiring almost half new persons this year so you never know what i will end up with.
If you put rules in place, I'd put them in for everybody. If they get pissed, so be it. They'll adapt.

Also, I'd put the basic decisions in the crew leaders hands. They have to know when to do what.

On the lunch thing, thats a huge grey area. If you have a crew slacking off, I'd put a time in place for them and watch them close for a few weeks on GPS around that time if you can.
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  #7  
Old 02-21-2013, 10:17 AM
sgbotsford sgbotsford is offline
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You've got the wrong crew foremen.

Here's how I'd work it, but it will take years to fully implement this:

Overall you need to inculcate a work ethic in them -- a desire to do a good job every time.

1. As any given crew gets better the supervisor visits less often.

2. Crews that need visiting less often get a bonus on their paycheck. After all they have taken less time.

3. The foreman turns in a sheet each day of the route and time at each stop. If you are suspicious of a foreman, you pull the GPS log off the vehicle.

4. From the log you get average times for a particular contract.

5. From the log you also get abnormal times. Abnormal times mean one of two things: * The contract was underbid. * Or these guys are slacking off.

6. Jobs that raise flags in #1 get a visit from the supervisor.

7. If you want to make sure, swap a different crew onto that job for a few weeks.

8. Overall, crews are paid a base rate plus a percentage of the contract. This has to be adjusted carefully. If the contract part is too big a fraction, they tend to rush the job and do badly. If the contract part is too small, they goof off.

But judging quality is a lot easier to document than how they spent their time. However, a crummy job may require some fast talking with the land owner to fill in, so bad jobs shouldn't come up too often.


****

Overall you want to create win-win situations. The original poster is working himself into a management vs employee war. This seldom ends well. You end up with employees who will do the minimum possible work. Instead figure out a method that it's to everyone's interest to pull the same way.

As to personal freedoms:

1. Starting time should be fixed at least in a given season. There is merit in starting your workday early in summer to keep out of the heat. There can also be merit in having some flexibility -- e.g. if you have a bunch of single employees who need to get their kids off to school, make a crew for them, allow them to start late.

Ideally if you have a salting route, then move the whole day to the time the guys need to start. If there is extra time becuase of no-snow, this is time to work on maintenance, other projects, or let them book off early.

Variable start times kill efficiency. On days you start early, people are half asleep the first hour or two. On days to start late, it's little better. If you are going to be flexible, be so at the end of the day.

(I used to run canoe expeditions with teens. I found that trips where we started at the same time every day invariable got more miles in a week than a trip that had 'easy days' and 'push days' So I got them up soon after sunrise, we got on the water 90 minutes later, usually by 6:30. The variable part was at the other end of the day. If we hit a cool waterfall or rapid at 3 in the afternoon, we may stop. If we in a chain of portages amid the black flies, we may just keep slogging on, as we weren't much more miserable moving than stopped.)

I also found working with teens, that having mid morning and mid afternoon breaks WITH FOOD made a huge difference. I think this is true for any physical job. Feed people so their blood sugar doesn't drop and they don't get owly. Schedule it into their day, and it should become part of the foreman's time sheet. Foremen should note guys who didn't bring stuff for breaks, watch them for slow downs before lunch and quitting time.
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  #8  
Old 02-21-2013, 05:02 PM
seabee24 seabee24 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgbotsford View Post
Here's how I'd work it, but it will take years to fully implement this
...... I hope it doenst take years. because ionly have a few guys on staff right now, and we arent taking back anyone else from last season so we would be hiring all new, thus why i need ot impliment the rules right off the bat

Overall you want to create win-win situations. The original poster is working himself into a management vs employee war. This seldom ends well. iv been fighting that war. so question is how to get out of it, and stay out of it. You end up with employees who will do the minimum possible work. Instead figure out a method that it's to everyone's interest to pull the same way. any ideas? perosnally i bleive its just the persons that we have hired. I worked for my old boss. 3 man crew, we where all hoenst, never too breaks, didnts moke, didnt own cell phones, we ate lunchs in the same spots that our boss had taken us to before he got off the crew. we packed our lunch and brought water with. we were all big boys. we had no technology at all yet we mowed over 100 homes per week, plus 1 day extra work, ZERO over time, average week was 37 hours, and we all enjoyed our jobs, best part was checking out the hot women while driving by.

As to personal freedoms:


Variable start times kill efficiency. On days you start early, people are half asleep the first hour or two. On days to start late, it's little better. If you are going to be flexible, be so at the end of the day.

I kind of learned that 2 years ago, and in the summer we start at fixed times. snow removal is a little different in that different hours, but the morning property checks could all start at the same time. it would suck a little bit to start at 5 am every day, but o well i guess?


I also found working with teens, that having mid morning and mid afternoon breaks WITH FOOD made a huge difference. I think this is true for any physical job. Feed people so their blood sugar doesn't drop and they don't get owly. Schedule it into their day, and it should become part of the foreman's time sheet. Foremen should note guys who didn't bring stuff for breaks, watch them for slow downs before lunch and quitting time.
do you think we should schdual multiple breaks, breafest and lunch? would you use fixed lunch times which would require them to bring their own lunch? or let them go get some from somewhere?

Thanks for the post - its exaclty along the same lines as im thinking.
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  #9  
Old 05-20-2013, 09:24 AM
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BPS## BPS## is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seabee24 View Post
But really those are just 2 of many issues and questions.

So what I wanted to really know is in general - should i be nice to the crew, let them make judgment choices and hope they will be grown men and think?

or should i run a tight ship, make all the choices for them, plan everything, put it in the handbook and fire them if they dont follow the rules.

part of my 3 goals this year is to find, and create a good, moral, happy, and re-usable work force that can be used again the following season.

The good guys really dont need strict rules. and i would like ot keep them happy.

its the rotten apples that need the rules. and ill be hiring almost half new persons this year so you never know what i will end up with.




The answer to your question is no, its YOUR company, YOU make the rules.
My experience has been that no amount of pleading or trying to play to their sensibilities will get results.
They have to be told, its a shame that "adults" are this way but such is today's labor pool.
The good ones usually are not looking for work or already have their own business.

As for start times on snow, that depends a lot on mother nature and you or the manager monitoring the weather should have call out early plans if need be.

As for lunch I give my guys their choice of 30 mins between 11:30 and 1. I realize that some days you just aint hungry because the clock says noon.
Other days you might get hungry sooner.

Your landscape crew needs to work that job like a real job.
Structured start times, structured breaks/lunch etc.
And you should have a pretty good idea of what time it should take and then hold them to it.

Concentrate on hiring good crew lead and inform them that they are your agent when you aint there.
Its their responsibility to make things flow and you'll be on them like white on rice if they aren't performing.
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  #10  
Old 02-19-2013, 11:43 AM
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ELS Landscape ELS Landscape is offline
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My guys have various jobsites where they like to take lunch and I have never questioned when and where they took lunch as long as it is reasonable.

If something impacts client services then you should take that out of their hands.
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