Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Another year's gone by and it's time to do some 2010 planning... We're an 8 person electrical outfit, and I'd really like to start creating a culture of accountability. We have good guys, but they don't always see how their performance affects the big picture. These are mainly the call backs, deficiencies, things not in scope of original work just added by client, possible padding of hours, no sense of urgency, lost invoices, lost cheques... etc...

We need to start changing this.

I understand that we should define what we want them to be accountable for, but how can I find objectives that are measurable? "No call backs to project x. = what reward?" something like this.

Anyone been though the same thing and could offer some advice?

I was thinking of perhaps figuring a per sq/ft time it should take to wire a standard new residential house, but this seems a bit fluffy, I need some GOOD ideas :) I seem to be fresh out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,181 Posts
The employees will never understand how much those call backs cost until they own a company.

Perhaps you could implement some sort of bonus for performance type deal. At the end of the year if you have zero call backs everyone gets a certain amount of money as a bonus. The amount decreases at the call backs go up. Maybe this will make their partner double check their work just to make sure it was done right.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,078 Posts
Your biggest problem isn't your guys not having accountability, it's your business isn't set up in a way to create accountability through paperwork and systems.

You need a combination of oversight on the job and systems put in place to monitor and measure results and parameters to guide the work within.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,379 Posts
Better management and encourage feedback, assuming you have established accountability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
It starts with hiring the best people, not the cheapest people. Good people cost more money and require more control. If you are a control freak and a cheap skate, you will never have accountablity.......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
967 Posts
Give the guys ownership of the jobs, whether through bonuses or through the promotion of somebody other than yourselves who has to be accountable. Peer pressure works:thumbsup:
 

·
Administrator
Maker of Fine Sawdust
Joined
·
55,550 Posts
If you give them a bonus at the end of the year you can dock from it for every instance. Tell them at the beginning of the year that their bonus will be $xxx.00. And that ever instance of a breakdown from normal procedure will decrease it. Have a liste of occurances so you can show them where they screwed up. Hit'm where it hurts, in their pocket. They will soon get the idea.

Also, when you do a decrease of their bonus tell them right then and there. It will help them figure out what they shouldn't be doing.
 

·
Average Joe
Joined
·
1,209 Posts
I preach accountability to the site guys all the time.

Inexperienced guys make mistakes.
Experienced guys make poor judgment calls/decisions.

Both cost you money!

Inexperienced guy- His pay rate reflects his inadequacy, he is expected to make mistakes...within reason. They exceed that limit, they are fired.

Experienced guy- No excuses. If you look to him to be a "leader" on the site, then he is accountable for all of his decisions.

I just fired a carpenter YESTERDAY for this very reason. 25+ years of experience, high end portfolio, use to run his own show (you expect ability to see "big picture"). He made 4 poor judgment calls that will cost 2k of additional work to correct. Fired.

I personally don't believe in systems/methods/formats to correct for what is in all honesty an inability to think critically on the job site.

If I pay you more will you think better? If so, then you were only giving me 50% and purposely making poor judgment calls to jeopardize my project/contract? Then you are a leach, ungrateful, disrespectful liar when you took the job in the first place. Don't let the door hit your ass.

Poor performers not only cost you money in the obvious way, they also set a poor precedent for the other guys. Bad habits are excused/reinforced when you don't fire people.

I purposely confronted the guy I fired while the other guys were in the same room so they could hear what was happening. I listed what he did wrong, why they were wrong, how much it will take to fix it and then let him make his excuses for his decisions. When the guy left the site, I had a talk with the guys about it and used it to preach how important it is that we think before doing and the impact that poor decisions have on the overall picture. They got it.:thumbsup:
 

·
**
Joined
·
88 Posts
Go back and see what the call backs, deficiencies, things not in scope of original work just added by client, possible padding of hours, no sense of urgency, lost invoices, lost cheques... etc... is costing you per month. Then give a reward to the top mechanic or top two mechanics that is meeting the requirements you set up for the month. The reward might be a paid day off or a certificate for dinner. Just try and make it so the same mechanic not winning all the time.
Just a thought
 

·
dsweet
Joined
·
22 Posts
Employee Accountability- measurement

Great thread! Most people are afraid of the word 'accountability'- so it's always refreshing to see professionals ready to embrace it in their business.

A great friend of mine has this saying- and it's so true for creating accountability. He says "People won't do what's expected of them- they will do what is inspected of them!"

As shared in this thread already- be sure to have your systems in place. When you have policy, procedure, protocal and systems clearly down on paper so all (including you) can be held accountable to them- you have a jump start on getting great results.

Changing the culture takes time. It can be invigorating. It can be exhausting. Set clear expectations and then hang tight. To see things come about is amazing.

I have a great book called "Thank God It's Monday" that I've been reading. The author is Roxanne Emmerich. This book is about creating a company culture where people WANT to go to work instead of being a place where they HAVE to go to work.

The book is ideal for leaders in the company- but the concept is meant for everyone in the company to be involved to help create the change.

I have been practicing this principle with professionals in my area that I oversee and am responsible for their marketing results-and we have seen some AMAZING business numbers come in during the last two months since I introduced this to them.

You can get her book at Amazon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,977 Posts
I think you are looking at it the wrong way. Instead of focusing on "Accountability" you should focus on "Quality control". I'm assuming your company doesn't really have a system for that? Most companies don't, or they do but it's just not very adequate. All too often I'll hear someone say about their company "We do quality work", then someone else will say "That's great! what do you do to implement that?" And they will get a blank look. They don't do anything to implement it, they say they do quality work but have no system set up to carry that out.

There's different ways to carry out a quality control plan. The most important is to have an inspection routine. When your job is about 80% done, send your most knowledgeable guy in to do an inspection. Have him write up a list of things that were done wrong, and things that need to be corrected. Then have your inspector go over that with the lead man on that job.

Consider writing up a list of the quality control issues you want carried out, then print them up in manuals and hand them out to every worker and lead man on the job. You might include issues like "We don't bury wire splices", or "We don't cross our wires all over the place and make it look like a rat's nest, we run our wires straight". I am just thinking of issues I've seen hack electricians do compared to the good electricians.

Project management and job planning has a lot to do with quality control too. One example that I had was a job that involved building a fire wall in the attic which needed sheetrock. Well "Gee, you need a roofing gun for that", "Gee, we didn't have one". So we ended up nailing on the sheetrock with a framing gun. Which basically is hack work, you're supposed to use roofing nails. Lack of planning and project management lead to poor quality.

I find the reason guys make mistakes is not because they want to do hack work. Might be because they are accustomed to doing it a different way than what you expect. Or it can be from a lack of planning and not having the right tools, supplies, or an unclear set of drawings. It could be they were given a job that was beyond their capability. When you say you want to "Create a culture of accountability", it sounds like you want to have a way to punish your employees. In my own opinion, the management is more to blame for mistakes than the workers or job leads. If you want to start punishing your employees for that, they're not going to think highly of you or the company obviously. And it's the first step to driving your company into the ground.

What's acceptable and what's not acceptable vary's too much where ever you go. Pretend for a minute that you are a framer in my area. In Pierce County there is a rule that wall sheathing over lapping the corners has to be 16 inches minimum. In King County, which is right next to it, the rule is 24 inches. Say you frame houses in King County and you hire a framer who's done most his work in Pierce County. Then he puts a 16 inch rip on the corner of his wall because that's how he is used to doing it, then the inspector calls him on it. What are you going to do? Are you going to punish him for making that mistake? Doesn't make much sense does it?

Instead of punishing your employees, how about do the reverse, offer bonuses or profit sharing to all your employees? That way it gives them some incentive to do nice work. They will know that the more mistakes they make, and the more call backs they have, the less the company makes, and therefor the less they make.

I do like the book suggestions though in this thread :thumbsup: I will add that to my list.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
I must be one of the lucky ones, my guys take pride in not having call-backs. They follow the scope of work to a "T" as outlined by the contract. They have 3 part carbon forms for any requested changes that the customer is required to sign. They also know that any changes involve a call to me so I know what's going on and if I have to, make the appropriate changes to the schedule.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,977 Posts
^^ Sounds like you are on top of it with your project management and planning. That's where it all starts, good planning leads to good quality and fewer mistakes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
I understand that we should define what we want them to be accountable for, but how can I find objectives that are measurable? "No call backs to project x. = what reward?" something like this.

Anyone been though the same thing and could offer some advice?

I was thinking of perhaps figuring a per sq/ft time it should take to wire a standard new residential house, but this seems a bit fluffy, I need some GOOD ideas :) I seem to be fresh out.
accountability is a culture that start's at the top. if you're the owner, you're the enforcer. means tough decisions sometimes with good people, but that's the price of leadership and its a culling process. long-term with the right people working in a culture of accountability, the business turns to measures of performance, incentives and disincentives.

measures of performance stands on three expectations: 1) clients; 2) yours; and 3) employees. balance the three which means there are objective and subjective measures for incentives and disincentives.

some of your clients are me or someone like m, a gc, and if i had to put my finger on your accountability it would be in your people's responsiveness, flexibility, and quality. my electricians usually give our pm's the a-team and when they don't for whatever reason, they switch these guys out if it becomes a problem. for that our go-to electricians have all our loyalty despite the fact that my pm's want to shop this pool of guys. its a disadvantage to our competitiveness in bidding,

speed on the electrician's part is of no interest, especially if issues like smokes and lights are unaligned.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
accountability is a culture that start's at the top. if you're the owner, you're the enforcer. means tough decisions sometimes with good people, but that's the price of leadership and its a culling process. long-term with the right people working in a culture of accountability, the business turns to measures of performance, incentives and disincentives.

measures of performance stands on three expectations: 1) clients; 2) yours; and 3) employees. balance the three which means there are objective and subjective measures for incentives and disincentives.

some of your clients are me or someone like m, a gc, and if i had to put my finger on your accountability it would be in your people's responsiveness, flexibility, and quality. my electricians usually give our pm's the a-team and when they don't for whatever reason, they switch these guys out if it becomes a problem. for that our go-to electricians have all our loyalty despite the fact that my pm's want to shop this pool of guys. its a disadvantage to our competitiveness in bidding,

speed on the electrician's part is of no interest, especially if issues like smokes and lights are unaligned.
While the basics of setting up and maintaining a good business policy remain the same, I think different trades may have to make certain concessions. Do I want a "fast" electrician, plumber, hvac? Not if it compromises safety. I may tackle smaller projects myself, but I'm smart enough to know when to leave it to the true professionals. They've never failed me yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Great ideas, thanks.

Thank you for all the great insightful feedback. You are absolutely right - I really like the idea of "Quality Control" vs. "Accountability". I'm not saying accountability shouldn't exist, but WE the management should give clear expectations as to what we need done. With a quality control plan and testing by someone senior (ie. journeyman) this can be done. I need to give this some thought.

I thought about bonues, but the guys are already well paid, in fact our rate is $2 higher than most competitors. This is mainly for retention. I would hate to institute more pay and bonuses just to get quality work that we already expect...and again it goes back to quality control vs. accountability.

Really good thread, keep the ideas coming.

I think you are looking at it the wrong way. Instead of focusing on "Accountability" you should focus on "Quality control". I'm assuming your company doesn't really have a system for that? Most companies don't, or they do but it's just not very adequate. All too often I'll hear someone say about their company "We do quality work", then someone else will say "That's great! what do you do to implement that?" And they will get a blank look. They don't do anything to implement it, they say they do quality work but have no system set up to carry that out.

There's different ways to carry out a quality control plan. The most important is to have an inspection routine. When your job is about 80% done, send your most knowledgeable guy in to do an inspection. Have him write up a list of things that were done wrong, and things that need to be corrected. Then have your inspector go over that with the lead man on that job.

Consider writing up a list of the quality control issues you want carried out, then print them up in manuals and hand them out to every worker and lead man on the job. You might include issues like "We don't bury wire splices", or "We don't cross our wires all over the place and make it look like a rat's nest, we run our wires straight". I am just thinking of issues I've seen hack electricians do compared to the good electricians.

Project management and job planning has a lot to do with quality control too. One example that I had was a job that involved building a fire wall in the attic which needed sheetrock. Well "Gee, you need a roofing gun for that", "Gee, we didn't have one". So we ended up nailing on the sheetrock with a framing gun. Which basically is hack work, you're supposed to use roofing nails. Lack of planning and project management lead to poor quality.

I find the reason guys make mistakes is not because they want to do hack work. Might be because they are accustomed to doing it a different way than what you expect. Or it can be from a lack of planning and not having the right tools, supplies, or an unclear set of drawings. It could be they were given a job that was beyond their capability. When you say you want to "Create a culture of accountability", it sounds like you want to have a way to punish your employees. In my own opinion, the management is more to blame for mistakes than the workers or job leads. If you want to start punishing your employees for that, they're not going to think highly of you or the company obviously. And it's the first step to driving your company into the ground.

What's acceptable and what's not acceptable vary's too much where ever you go. Pretend for a minute that you are a framer in my area. In Pierce County there is a rule that wall sheathing over lapping the corners has to be 16 inches minimum. In King County, which is right next to it, the rule is 24 inches. Say you frame houses in King County and you hire a framer who's done most his work in Pierce County. Then he puts a 16 inch rip on the corner of his wall because that's how he is used to doing it, then the inspector calls him on it. What are you going to do? Are you going to punish him for making that mistake? Doesn't make much sense does it?

Instead of punishing your employees, how about do the reverse, offer bonuses or profit sharing to all your employees? That way it gives them some incentive to do nice work. They will know that the more mistakes they make, and the more call backs they have, the less the company makes, and therefor the less they make.

I do like the book suggestions though in this thread :thumbsup: I will add that to my list.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top