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

    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.
  2. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    Train your foremen. I think it bad form to have lunch on someone's lawn. Encourage guys to bring a thermos of coffee, or something cold along with nibbles. If you are going to be there all day, then, have a short break at the truck, not on their yard. Having them bring their own lunch I think is better. The lunch period doesn't tend to stretch. But foremen should have the ability to say, "It's f*((( cold out here. Let's find a warm place to eat.

    Hire more guys than you need. Be up front and tell them that you got a bad batch last year, that you are deliberately hiring extra guys, becuase you expect that 1/2 of them won't make it. The first week is going to be a scramble if you don't have foremen.

    Indeed, if you don't have foremen, pick out some of the guys who you think will do well at that level, and make a two day training course. In fact, pay your foremen for one evening a week initially for more training. During that evening, you drive to sites, and point out things that were done really well, or weren't that hot. Never mention names. Never chew a guy out in front of the others. This is how you set the standard for what is to be done.

    If you have a problem with one foreman, don't talk to him at the meeting. Catch him as his crew comes in, and talk privately.

    Build enough slack into the system that you can fire a bunch of guys, and not have everyone esle working infinite overtime. This is where you want a bunch of guys who are willing to work part time. The part can be small or large. If you do commercial garden work, you can find lots of people who have kids who want to work school hours only.

    This can also help around the feast or famine. Here, a lawn has to be mowed twice a week from mid May to the end of June to look good. By August it only needs to be done every two weeks.

    During the short times, give guys the option to either work short days, or fewer days. Organize that by crews.
  3. RLS24

    RLS24 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,603

    To answer your original 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.?
    I personally would sleep better if I knew the guy was out there when he was supposed to be.

    2. lunch breaks- set in stone time (unless they get approval) or do I allow them flexibility?
    Flexibility but you need some sort of structure and documentation have a crew leader call the supervisor when they are going on and off break so that way its clear.

    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?
    Handbook doesnt seem like a bad idea just to set a general structure and something to fall back on but I wouldnt go enforcing it to a T every day.

    My opinion here is this: I get the impression that your company is to the size where you're no longer in the field working with the employees. I am still small enough that I'm still out there working with the guys. My view is I want the employees to feel like they are working WITH me and not FOR me. I try to be as reasonable as possible with them, I don't make them do anything that I wouldnt. I wont stand there leaning on a shovel and say "dig this hole, move the 100lb root ball...." no I dig the hole myself and am right there with them wrestling the 100lb root ball into place. I think that goes a LONG way towards the employees respecting you. I always buy the guys lunch at least 1 day a week sometimes 2 if its a tough week, if they want to take a break, thats fine go take a few minutes because odds are I'm going to want to sit down for a few minutes at some point too. We have a great morale and camaraderie on our jobsites and yet I feel that we are very productive. Like I said, my biggest thing is I want to make the guys feel like we are all working together and not have that boss-worker relationship. Again, the way I run things works out very well for me I have some great employees who I trust driving my trucks, running my equipment, and even talking to customers. I think the whole dont make them do something you wouldnt do thing goes a long way. and when they see you doing it, they respect you a lot more because they see that you're not afraid to get in there and do it for yourself. I don't ever want to be the business owner that drives around in a brand new luxury truck all day and stops at the various job sites to point fingers. I will hire someone to run the office at that point. I want to be out there in the field with the guys every day. Again, its all about building that trust. I know, because I have been in the field working with the guys for so long that I can send them to do a job, whether it be mowing a lawn or a landscape maintenance (I tend to usually be there for the more involved construction jobs) and they are comfortable because they know the way they are doing it is the way I want it done because thats how WE did it together, and I know they know what they are doing because WE did it together before and I showed them the way I want things done. Makes me feel better about it and not have to worry about things as much. Obviously I can't be with both of my crews at the same time, but I divide my time between them to spend time with and work with both of them.

    Just my .02 cents haha
  4. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    That's a good point. I work with my guys too. You may do better if your supervisors do this.

    In the military, generally one person has no more than 3-4 people in direct commandline under him. He may have assistants that do paperwork, but a lieutenant has 4 squads in his platoon. A captain has 4 lieutenants running squads. A major has 4 captains running companies.

    You may want to do that. Only make it 3 this year since your supervisors aren't very experienced. Have your supervisors do one job with each crew in rotation.

    The second big idea I think is profit sharing. If every paystub looks like this:

    John Smith

    Base pay 40 hours @12/hour = 480
    Jones Contract #1245 5% 45
    Smith Contract #2213 5% 35
    Brown Contract 31145 5% 50

    The numbers are just made up. But if 20% of the contract price was split amoung the crew, they would have incentive both to do more contracts, and to do them well. The difference between a crew member and a foreman is that the foreman gets a higher percentage.

    Suppose that you have 4 man crews. Suppose that you decide that you are going to split 20% of the contract price with the crew members. Suppose that a supervisor is in charge of 4 crews.

    2% goes to supervisor.
    6% goes to foreman
    4% goes to each crew member.
  5. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,445

    The more responsibility you give them, the more freedom they should be given.
  6. BPS##

    BPS## LawnSite Senior Member
    from WY
    Messages: 828

    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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