Teaching an employee respect and to listen?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DVS Hardscaper, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    So round last June or July I had a thread about an employee stopping a machine in it's tracks to answer a personal call on his telephone. A few guys flammed me and told me I was a hot head and unreasonable. A few guys agreed 110% with me. So, the outcome of that was he did end his personal phone calls, after that episode we didn't have any more problems with his incoming calls.

    OK, so now, the same guy works his butt off. I will honestly say he really does work hard all day long.

    But I have a serious problem with him. And that is - he often will not take constructive critism. He almost has a year working with me. His background is drywall and painting, so there are alot of ins and outs he has to learn about what we do.

    Anytime I try to show him or tell him a better way to do something - he flys off the handle. He will start yelling / arguing back with me very loud, and everytime I try to speak he will interupt me and not allow me to finish a sentence. People will often behave like that as a way of trying to intimidate others. Problem is: #1. No matter what one says or does I do not get intimidated. #2. I am the boss

    Some examples:

    One time I was setting up the laser level as I was about to leave to run errands. Before I set the level I asked if anyone measured something. They all said "no". So I did the measuring and I set the level and left. Well, I come back and hardly no work was done. They had moved the level. I said "why did you move the level?" They replied "well so and so measured and you changed his measurements". Well, this guy became irrate. Everytime I tried to talk he would interupt. I would say "ok, I am going to speak", I would say 3 words and he would interupt. I would say "ok, I will try to speak again", and again he would interupt. He became very angry. Threw the shovel not at me but in my direction. I was trying to say "hey I asked if anyone measured and all of you told me no". Finally after he calmed down I was able to speak and go through the story word from word. He realized I was right and he apologized.

    Last thursday they were assembeling a fence that we had taken down to get into the back yard. One corner post needed moved about 1/2 an inch to the left. Well I was standing back watching him try so hard to move the post, but his efforts were not working and I knew exactly why. So I calmly said to him "the post isnt moving can I show you why", I was very nice, I wasn't demeaning, and I was soft spoken. And naturally he becomes angry with me, hastily replying "I'm working" while trying harder to move the post. I replied as I was moving towards him "I know you're working, but you are not doing it right, now step back and let me show you why". So I show him why it wasnt working and I tell him what needs to be done. So he does as I said and the post moved right where it needed to be instantly.

    This guy is a nice guy. And like I said, he is a workhorse. He's hispanic, about 27 yrs old. I'm thinking he lacks parental guidance and doesnt realize his actions are really wrong. He is on the verge of being fired. I mean he's this close. But before I fire him I want to try to work with him on this.

    He got a $1.50 raise this year. Would have been slightly more but because of his temper it cost him some points. I rewarded him for his hard work, but I'm not rewarding someone who yells at the boss.

    So what I'm thinking is saying to him "ok, for each pay period we complete with NO yelling and arguing with me - I will give you another 50 cents per hour that week. For any one time you argue with me or talk over me - you can kiss that extra 50 cents goodbye for the pay period.

    Your thoughts?

  2. slowleak1

    slowleak1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 532

    Fire him, give him a few days to let it soak in, then go talk to him.
  3. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    I wouldn't tolerate it for a second. I've made people go home right in the middle of a job. I didn't care how they got home or back to my shop but I wasn't going to deal with. When you loose or don't even have respect it's just a matter of time before something goes really wrong. We had an issue 2 weeks ago with a guy who one of the foreman hates and rightfully so, this kid was fired last year by me and re-hired with this other company we were helping out. I asked the other owner why did you hire this POS. Turns out he's the same lazy turd for him. Well in short the foreman finally had enough of his slacking and freaked on him at the job site, yelling, calling him a lazy, F'ing POS. It was very uncomfortable and the few tenants who saw and heard everything must have been thinking WTH.
  4. lazor-cut

    lazor-cut LawnSite Senior Member
    from Wixom
    Messages: 315

    Well in regards to the phone problem, our company is owner operated with a few crews lead by crew leaders. Company policy is NO TALKING ON THE PHONE While on the clock. So that means not in the truck between jobs and DEFINITELY not on the job. All the crew leaders and part owners have company phones. All the Wives, girls,mothers, sons and daughters all have the the owners number and can call the office in the event of an emergency.

    All phones get locked in the glove box. All the guys are free to use their phones on their lunch break. They thought we were d***s at first but now they are used to it
  5. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Can I over simplify this for a minute?

    I work with about 125 kids everyday and I can say they are not much different than people that I work with in this industry.

    Some people are dogs, they follow you and will beg for your approval. Others are cats and are pissed when you look in their general directions. Cats don't need approval and do things their own way. Their worst nightmare is what you describe.

    In my opinion you and your worker are both cats. Two cats on a crew is tough.

    To encourage him maybe challenge him as you said. Cats love challenges and want to race to the top. Give incentives for great quality work and cats are always the top performers. A crew of people is best made of cats and dogs. Dogs will crave your help and your criticism, but will always need your directions. I prefer cats because I don't have to help with everything.

    I have a cat on my crew, exactly how you describe. I have the same issues. I try to lead by example. Instead of showing him how to do things now, I ask him, " Hey what can I do to help you?" This simple change has made all the difference. He wants to be self sufficient, and when I thought about it I wanted him that way too. When I treated him like my worker bee I got nothing out of him. Now I get out of the way and he shows the new guys the right way and is great. I just had to work with him differently.

    Maybe read that book linked below or PM me and I will try to dig it out. It is a short read, but incredibly helpful if you are managing people. Just my two cents DVS.

    "The best advice falls as softly as the fallen snow....."


    (I met the author at his seminar for working with people. Nice guy, great book.)
  6. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Messages: 2,419

    Problem is, you don't realize that #2 is supposed to be #1 and you have not gotten him to realize it either. Give him a 1 week " suspension " without any pay to get his priorities straight and see where it goes from there. You may be hurting that week without the extra hands, but you'll be hurting much worse if you don't Barney Fiffe it and "nip it in the bud" now.
  7. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    I'm pretty sure he realizes I'm the boss. I didn't quite really mean the numbers in order of priority! There have been many a times where I have specifically said "this is my company" or "I am the boss" to him. In my 22 years in business I have NEVER had to say that until recently. I don't like being an employer where everything is me me me. I believe its us us us. This guy isn't concerned with rising to the top, his problem is he angers easily and can't manage it. It's a shame for him because it's already cost him a full raise.

    As I stated in another topic about a month ago - I had fired a guy where we were a good ways from his car! LOL - he had to walk 7 miles to the square of the nearest town to be picked up by a ride!

    Then on the other hand I have another guy that is as respectful as can be and another work horse. He reads his Spanish religious books to the job and reads them when we drive back at the end of the day.
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  8. nepatsfan

    nepatsfan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,142

    Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Why do you have to tell him you're the boss or that it's your company if he knows. To me this situation screams poor management. Why would an employee feel like he could yell at the boss? Why would the boss let it fly? This seems pretty straightforward to me....either smarten up and do what I say and how I say it, or find another job. Done, thread over. I don't think it's an employers job or responsibility to teach respect, that is a parents job. I'm sure you could find another drywall guy or painter to install pavers:laugh:

    I am not sure I would offer a reward system for my employees to respect me. Employees can see weakness in management a mile away, I would re-evaluate what I was doing.
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    Well, nepatsfan I could find a cure for cancer and you would say I didnt do it fast enough. For some reason, you have a little thing for me :)

    I'm certainly not "weak management", but hopefully your day is fulfilled from jumping at the chance to state that :) But obviously I am looking for ways to improve, or this conversation would not exist. I recognize and am aware of a problem, and believe in first trying to iron out the wrinkles. Typical Liberal, huh!

    I'm just as human as everyone else here. I operate a very very small company. Very small. With small companies, employee management is typically handled much differenty, with limitations and lines drawn. There are pluses to managing employees at small companies, and there are negatives. And vice versa for for large companies. We all have weaknesses. Weaknesses are why this forum is in existance. Most of us know our weaknesses. Some go after help and support to overcome them, some are embarassed and keep it to theirselves. Kinda like your weakness that you have for me :weightlifter: (speaking of weaknesses)

    As far as the backgrounds of who I hire - 99% of the time I NEVER hire experienced paver installers :) Nor do I have intentions of doing so! I specifically hire guys with no paver or block experience, this way they only ever know one way to do it - my way. I've produced some of the best installers in the area. In the last 22 years I've been in business, I have hire 2 guys with paver experience. Breaking them of bad habits learned elsewhere or teaching them correct ways - was like pulling teeth. Many Americans change jobs. There are members of this forum that either work or have worked in completely different careers before becoming landscape/hardscape contractors. Thank, but you may have the experienced new recruits :cool2:

    And I agree - I dont believe an employer should have to teach an employee respect.

    BTW - Still waiting to see your annual qualifications pics on this site of your work :)
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012
  10. mslawn

    mslawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from LA
    Messages: 483

    This is a no brainer, FIRE him. No matter how "GOOD" he might be, a "hothead" like that could be more of a liability than an asset.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012

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