should I let employees make important choices?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by seabee24, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    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?
  2. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 6,309

    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.
  3. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    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?
  4. ToddH

    ToddH LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,192

    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.
  5. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,445

    Great post. I'm working on a handbook as well. I have one good suggestion - make them document times throughout the day on their route sheets. Time in/ out at each job and start/end of lunch break. They can still decide their time like you said but if you show up, their start time should be written down already. Also helps keep track of how efficient the crew is. Helped me out a lot.

  6. Vanderhoff Landscaping

    Vanderhoff Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 396

    What if those employees "fudge" their start and stop times? Do you also make the write down mileage at every stop as well?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,445

    You should know how long each property takes. I don't make them do mileage but you could. If they are underperforming than show up at random properties and check their sheet. If they are getting the schedule all done then be happy.
  8. ToddH

    ToddH LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,192

    I am thinking GPS is a good tool for several reasons.

  9. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    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.
  10. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    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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