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Discussion Starter #1
I am trying to explain all of the intricacies of running a business to my supervisors. I sense some resistance- they seem to focus on the issues that directly impact them on a day to day basis.

All of my supervisors are approaching 40 and they are tired of the daily grind. I want to help them move up (and admittedly it will help my business grow) but they seem to resist my efforts.

I recently started a Saturday training program to help them learn the skills they need to move into a more managerial role, but I don't see the enthusiasm I would expect. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's my approach. Maybe it's them. I'm not sure.

Bascially what I want to do is teach them what I've learned in 15+ years of doing this and save them all of the blood, sweat and tears I have gone through. Any thoughts?

Brian Phillips
 

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Have you saught outside consulting? There are alot of maybes that outside consulting may be able to answer.

Good for you for trying to improve! But some guys like to work hands on. SOme people are born manegers and some are born workers. Some workers can be taught to be managers but some workers cna not. I think a worker that has hands on experience and understands how to manage is better than platinum!
 

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Brian, lets face it, most people don't see the big picture, that's why they are in their position and you are in yours, however a simple change is all that is needed for a win/win.

Most people aren't capable of understanding anything more than simple cause/effect relationships. We understand - touch hot object - we get burned (cause/effect) however more complicated scenarios that are obvious to you are not comprehendible to others such as your supervisors so you need to switch focus and start doing feature/benefit explanations or (selling) to them.

Take an example that explains this approach: A young mother is looking at a new car to buy. 3 sales men show her the same car and all of them explain that this car has super safety sensor beams built in, then asks her isn't that great don't you want to buy it now? Of course she doesn't buy it (or in the case of your supervisors, they don't buy in) The 4th salesperson explains to her that this car has safety features unlike any other car, with these features you will lower your insurance by at least 20%, which means with a lower monthly insurance payment you can use that savings to afford the slightly higher monthly payment for this car and be paying the same combined car and insurance payment you are paying now. In addition these features have shown that this vehicle is the safest vehicle in its class (this is a young mother with young children - safety of her kids is very important buying decision) therefore you will be putting your kids in the safest vehicle you could be buying. You can feel good about putting your kids in this vehicle in todays crazy world with highways full of road ragers and drunks.

So what happens? The first 3 salespeople tried to sell the young mother the features and had no success. The 4th salesperson sold the young mother on the benefits and she bought in.

When we want to help somebody help themselves such as your supervisors, we sometimes need to stop selling them on the features and sell them on the benefits. Focus on what is in it for them.

One of the ways of doing this is creating a program that benefits them to do what you want of them, find a way to make them learn without them knowing that they are learning anything. This is a basic principal that the education system employs in the early grades. In Kindergarten you don't sit 5 year olds down and do book work, they play games that teach them what they need to know. Each day they think they are going to Kindergarten to play, yet at the end of the year they have learned a lot of skills.

You are at a place in your life that you don't need to play games to learn, you are at the higher education level where you sit down and read and learn and know that you will be benefited as a result.

Most of these supervisors are at the kindergarten level, they don't have the same mentality that you do, that is why they are where they are and not running their own company like yourself.

If you post more details and specifics of what you are trying to achieve I can help you with some specific processes
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Mike,

Thank you very much for your comments. I agree that they are at a different place and have a different mentality. That part has never escaped me. Your comments about selling benefits hits home. I've tried to do that, but the results haven't been what I want/ expect. I have to suspect it's my approach.

My basic goal with this is to help them "get out of the bucket". I want to help them learn the skills required to become managers rather than painters. I am addressing issues such as planning/ goal setting, "knowing your numbers", the importance of systems, etc. I am also including things like computer skills.

The real short of it is that it took me 15+ years to learn/ realize a lot of this. I want to cut to the chase and teach them what is most important.

Two of these people are from Mexico. The third is a high school drop out (but she has earned her GED). I don't think they were raised with the idea that education is valuable and important, and I think that is part of the "problem". My suspiscion is that see what what I'm trying to do as "book learning" and that has little value in the real world. I've had people explicitly say that to me in the past.

I am more than willing to admit that I am likely to be a part of the obstacle to this. I tend to be blunt and forceful, and that can put people off. But I sincerely want to help them do better.

Brian Phillips
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Grumpy,

I have sought and used outside consulting. I don't think I got my money's worth.

I agree that some people aren't made out to be managers. But I have seen the potential in my supervisors. They are responsible and conscientious. Customers love them.

I think they can do better than they are doing now. But I'm not sure they think that way.

I had a conversation the other day with one of my supervisors. She said that she wasn't sure she could ever "get out of the bucket". I asked her if she thought I knew what I was doing. She said, "Most definitely." I asked if she thought I was willing to share what I know and help her and the other improve. She said, "Most definitely." I then asked why she wasn't taking advantage of that, and she had no answer. That is what I'm dealing with, and to be honest, I don't get it.

Sometimes I think the answer to that is the solution to the universe.

Brian Phillips
 

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Brian, from what you have said, it sounds like you are correct, they are good people, the problem is they are not you.

I have been through this a million times when I was a consultant. If you give me an example of exactly something you are trying to get them to do and be as specific as possible I might be able to help you out. It all comes down to the old you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. This is always listed in the top 5 of employer’s frustrations, when employees don't emulate the employer and help themselves. Often it all it takes is a paradigm shift for the employer to get into the head of the employee and bang; everything starts clicking for both the employee and the employer.
 

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Brian, I am in a similar position. I want to semi-retire, have a little more free time.
My solution was to go outside, as opposed to promoting from within. I have an exellent candidate and somebody may have to leave or be demoted. Business is business and if everyone is complacent it's time to shake everything up and introduce a new leader, who can complain if they were all given the chance?
I understand that this will cause a few problems, I've done it before and eventually most everybody settle down. The ones who don't find new jobs.
Very sad that your supers are facing 40 and are tired of the grind. I'm staring 60 in the eyeballs and I'm not tired, there are just some other things that I would like to do.
Future goals;
Set a worlds record for a circumnavigation under sail, boat has been designed.
A worlds speed record for piston engined boats, design being tweaked.
Retire in a tropical paradise, properties bought and still looking.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Mike,

I agree that they aren't me. I sure fight the urge to expect them to be, but I know that's unreasonable and unfair.

An example of what I'm trying to teach is "knowing the numbers". I want to show them how knowing certain numbers can tell us tons about what is happening. Job costing for example. If I'm bidding $55 an hour and the job comes in at $45 an hour, we've got a problem.

I should add that these are all subcontractors. They get paid a flat 52.5% of the job, and they pay for labor and materials. Job costing would seem to be a very important issue to them, but all they look at is the bottom line. I understand that, but they also have to help me improve the estimating so that they can make more. They seem to have some trouble getting that.

I should also add that we had our second "class" this past Saturday. It was significantly better than the first. There was more excitement, they were more involved, and they seemed to understand my points better. Some of that I will take credit for, largely because of some of the comments here. So thanks everyone for your input.

I can get excited about something pretty quickly. I also pick things up pretty quickly. When others don't do the same, I have a tendency to think something is wrong. Maybe all it is, as you said Mike, they aren't me. I did try to do things a little differently Saturday, and it seemed to be more effective. For example, I reduced the content by about 30% and went more slowly so as to not overwhelm them and make sure they were following me.

This class is a work in progress for me. I'm learning how to teach and communicate more effectively. I'm sure I'll have lots of questions as this unfolds.

Brian Phillips
 

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Congrats, it sounds like you are already making progress.

What is the incentive you are offering these guys for taking these classes from you? Are they just expected to spend their Saturdays there because they will get ahead?

I always advised clients to use the carrot method. Some employers never seemed to understand that just because they were managers or owners and had a vested interest in the company, that their employees probably looked at their jobs as 9-5 and wanted very little to do with the company once they walked out the door. A lot of clients were shocked at this notion and it really takes some of them awhile to understand that concept. But once they started to realize that their employees had that right, and it was up to them to respect it, things would usually change. Once they understood this they looked at their employee's time as more valuable and incentivised any infringement of it.
 

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Mike, Brian is working with subs, my guess is that they are realizing how the info applies to their businesses.
He may be shooting himself in the foot as they will be looking to widen their profits margins and he is teaching them how. I hope that he teaches them that quality is job 1 (Ford).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Teetorbilt,

I realize that this may backfire on me and I may be training potential competitors. But I don't think so. I want to turn them into employees and have told them so. They are hesitant (that's another issue).

In the meantime, I do hope to help them widen their net profit margin. Their gross pay won't change in terms of percentage, but if they are more efficient, understand their numbers better, etc. their net should go up significantly.

All of these people have tried to make it on their own previously. They know how hard it can be, so I don't think they are eager to strike out on their own again. They are looking for a career path, and that's what I'm trying to provide.

Mike,

I've heard a little complaining about spending 2 hours on a Saturday in a class. I'm not paying them, but have made it clear that I do respect their time and will try to keep as close to schedule as possible. I do understand what you're saying. I will definitely keep your comments in mind.

Brian Phillips
 

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I'm a little confused. These are subs not employees? You are getting them to show up on a Saturday and they aren't on your payroll? Any your complaint is???????? I think you are doing pretty damn well getting subs to spend their Saturday listening to you. I didn't realize these were not your employees. You confused me by calling them your supervisors in one post.

Now after reading your posts again I am more confused. These are subs but then you say that have all tried to make it on their own before... how are they subs and not making it on there own now? Sorry if I'm missing something here.
 

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Mike, I'll take the other oar in your boat. Subs? Employees? I give up.
Sounds like a sham company that I was caught up in a long time ago. I was hired as a sub but treated as an employee. I was young and stupid and went along with it until I was docked for taking a legal holiday, I was supposed to be salaried, payed X amount for performing X amount of work. Bye bye.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I don't think I ever said I had a complaint about them. My reason for bringing this up is because I wanted to find the best way to teach them effectively. I did not sense much enthusiasm on their part, and wanted input on how to generate enthusiasm.

These are truly subs. They supply the equipment, set their working hours, etc. Probably 80% of their work comes from me, so they work for me a lot of the time. They depend on me for much of their work. That is what I meant in distinction to "making it on their own".

The bottom line is, I am trying to help them learn skills that will help them progress in their career. I want to do the best job that I can in doing that, and any helpful input is appreciated. That was my intention when I started this thread, and that remains my intention.

Brian Phillips
 

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Brian, be careful that you don't step over the lines, the IRS has very clearly defined rules regarding the difference between a sub and an employee. Very few business financially survive a reclassification audit by the IRS.

These are some of the guidelines. I suspect you are crossing the line on more than one.

Instructions and training provided to a worker are important factors to beconsidered under behavioral control IRS test.

Does the business require the worker to follow their instructions on how work is to be performed? If yes, this indicates employee status. An independent contractor will generally decide how the project should be completed and use his own methodology.

Does the business provide training to the worker? If you're hiring a person for a job they are not trained for and providing them with the training to carry it out, that person is probably an employee. There can be exceptions based on the facts and circumstances, but if you fail this test, you might lose no matter how many of the others you pass.

Are the worker’s services a substantial or integral part of the business? This indicates employee status because it indicates the business maintains direction and control over the worker.

Does the business require the worker to perform all services personally? Independent contractors may have their own employees or at least should have the option of hiring other contractors to perform their work. Agreements for personal services indicate employee status.

Does the business hire, supervise and pay the worker’s assistants? If so, this is a strong indication of employee status. Let the independent contractor pay his or her own assistants.

Does the business have an ongoing relationship with the worker? This one is a stretch since many businesses maintain lifelong relationships with contractors whose work they like. But the IRS views this as an indication of employee status.

Does the business set the worker’s schedule and hours? Independent contractors generally set their own work schedules. If the contractor must work certain hours because of required interrelationships with your employees or to take advantage of down time for computer-related work, document these facts.

Does the business require the worker full-time? This is an indication of employee status because the business controls their availability and prevents them from working on other clients.

Does the business provide the workspace? Contractors who work off-site are more likely to be classified an independent contractor.

Does the business determine the order or sequence in which work is completed? Indicates employee status. If specific schedules are required, document them in the contract with the reasoning for doing so.

Does the business require oral or written reports? The IRS believes regular written or oral reports detailing the work completed indicates employee status. In reality, this is, and should be, expected from independent contractors as well.

Does the business pay by the hour, week or month? This indicates employee status. See our comments at the end of this article on this issue.

Does the business pay expenses? This is an indication that the business is directing the Independent contractor's business activities. Make sure the independent contractor pays the expenses and bills you for reimbursement.

Does the business provide tools and equipment for the worker? Independent contractors would normally provide their own tools and equipment.

Does the worker have a significant investment in their own facilities? If the contractor maintains his own office space, computer equipment, tools, etc., this is a good indication that they are an independent contractor.

Does the worker have profits and losses independent of the business? This is an indication that the contractor is running his own bona fide business and is an independent contractor.

Does the worker have multiple clients? Working with multiple clients generally indicates independent contractor status.

Does the worker market their services to the general public? Employees do not generally market their services to the general public.

Does the business have the right to discharge the worker at any time? This suggests employee status. An independent contractor would only be discharged for failure to meet contract specifications.

Does the worker have the right to quit at any time? An independent contractor is under contract and cannot quit until the project is completed.
 
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