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I currently have an employee we will call Juan (not real name). He is usually punctual and works to the best of his ability. Juan is eager to learn but certainly not the sharpest chisel in the box. He has a good attitude but makes stupid mistakes repeatedly because he lacks common sense or is just careless (recently a broken window that cost $600). I've always thought that you can teach all things except work ethic, but my mind is changing. Has anyone had an employee like this? Did they improve?
 

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I don't have employees, but I've definitely worked along side many of those guys.

Is he a young guy that might be trainable? Or older and not likely to change? Most guys like that will improve for a short time, but go back to the more careless ways until you talk to them about it again. It's exhausting from a management side and not really worth it unless you see some crazy potential in the guy.

Occasional mistakes are one thing, recurring ones get put to an end one way or another

- Rich
 

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I dunno about the employee, just want to say that I appreciate a good CB4 reference. What a great, horrible movie.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don't have employees, but I've definitely worked along side many of those guys.

Is he a young guy that might be trainable? Or older and not likely to change? Most guys like that will improve for a short time, but go back to the more careless ways until you talk to them about it again. It's exhausting from a management side and not really worth it unless you see some crazy potential in the guy.

Occasional mistakes are one thing, recurring ones get put to an end one way or another

- Rich
He is young. Like 23 or 24. He comes from a rough background. He got a felony charge a few weeks after he turned 18. And did some time. I really empathize because he is trying to be straight and build a career for himself.
 

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Judgment call, but there's a difference between a guy who consistently tries to improve and perform (and regrets the mistakes, which do happen from time to time), and the guy who remains or becomes unpredictable, unreliable, etc. depending on other factors in his life. One you may be able to work with, if you so choose. The other can't be turned around on your watch.
 

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Maybe limit what you have him doing. Does he do better with simple, very specific instructions?

Punctual and motivated are good starting points

- Rich
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Is he making or costing your company money overall?
Hard to say. With him it's probably close to break even. It's about the level of stress he creates for management and staff and the impression that the screw ups give. We are considering setting him up with some friends at the carpenters local. We do residential remodel work and we need people that are a bit smarter and have more common sense.
 

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Remodel is certainly more skilled than production.

But, there are some folks who are just not cut out for finesse type of jobs, or just lack a certain mechanical acumen.

I've trained guys on heavy equipment, some "get it", and some I feel that I would be (almost) criminally negligent if I continued allowing them to operate. 😳 😆

Same with building trades. They might be fine with a shovel or humping lumber, but don't really have the mindset or coordination to become good builders. Probably best to let those guys go, so they can do something more their style.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@ Seven-Delta

I'm totally seeing this. If all I needed was a ditch digger or a production framer I would totally want this kid a thousand percent. It's just not the case so I think I need to be proactive and set him up in a different trade rather than just put him down the road.
 

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I have. He was the best and worst employee I've ever had. I couldn't figure it out myself. He worked hard, always on time, nicest guy in the world and just dumb. But not really because I found out after he died that he used to be an engineer for mobile oil and he was like a senior manager. He just didn't think. It drove me crazy.

He did something every day to make me fire him. He couldn't cut straight, think straight, nothing was ever square... He made the job ten times harder longer and more costly. But he was down to do anything! I just had to watch him constantly. He would always be trying to sneak a cut without a guide and I'd yell from around the corner "GET A SQUARE ED!". and he would cuss me under his breath and go get a damn square.

I tried to really praise him for the things he did well, but they were few. But a little praise was everything to him. We had this joke ... Sort of... I used to fire him every day. And he would just come back the next day and go to work anyway... And I'd let him cuz he was a huge help... And he made the day more interesting. And well I needed him...

I left him on a job one time with only one piece of trim to put up and paint.... Came back and he had installed the trim on the brick instead of the siding. And painted it black when the rest of the trim was beige. (Trim on the shed was black but not the house) I made him stand there, take a few steps back, and just stare at the job until he could tell me what was wrong...seriously. he stood there for 30 min and couldn't figure it out. Smh.. I said "you're fired ed... Just go home".

Poor guy had a heart attack few months later and when I got to the hospital, the nurses said he would not wake up. Few of his friends were there talking to him, but got no response. Then it was my turn and I may seem like a total ball buster, but I'm actually pretty sensitive... I couldn't say anything to him without choking up and I wasn't about to frecking cry... So just I leaned down and whispered, "You really F'ed up this time ed. You're f'in fired!". And his eyes popped open... Everyone started laughing and got all excited but he fell right back asleep and never woke up again.

He loved getting fired. He just laughed at me with that goofy ass laugh and said ok, see you tomo.

Anyway... Memories... My advice, figure out what he's good at and let the reins loose for those things. When it comes to actual work, make him watch you work. Only watch. The mistake, imo, is putting the tool in his hands before he's ready. It's a distraction from actually learning from you. And when he does get a tool finally, YOU watch him only. Don't work along side him, just WATCH him work and correct every move.. every single move.

I tell people in advance, "it's going to seem like I'm up your ass all day long. You're probably going to hate me by the end of the day, but don't take it personal, if I didn't think you were capable I wouldn't waste my time. But we do things a specific way and for you to advance or go at it unsupervised I need to know that you know how to do it how we want it done"

It just takes time with people like that. You have to explain the reason you do it the way you do it. When you're watching him, after you've corrected and corrected and corrected him, let him do it wrong and then make him have to undo it and redo it. Let him struggle when he doesn't listen.

Then ask him how hard it was to do it his way.
He sounds like a good kid and you could be the guy who turns him into a skilled worker or the guy who crushes his enthusiasm and makes him go back to his old life. We all need to help eachother in life. But you have to draw the line when helping someone is hurting you. Sounds like you might already be putting too much into it and not getting the return you expect. Tell him. He might shape up real quick hearing that he is on thin ice. If he doesn't, well you tried.
 

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Hard to say. With him it's probably close to break even. It's about the level of stress he creates for management and staff and the impression that the screw ups give. We are considering setting him up with some friends at the carpenters local. We do residential remodel work and we need people that are a bit smarter and have more common sense.
I think you just answered your own question. Break even, plus added stress & lost productions, is a loss.

We don't hire a lot of employees, but when we do, one of the first things I askl them, if you're not making the company money, then why do I need you? When you make me money, I can afford to give you more money or bonuses.

As harsh as it sounds, isn't that what we're in business for?
 

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Great topic. My full time employee, who is in his 40’s, is trustworthy, capable, and skilled, and well paid. He is considerate of others, customers love him. He does excellent work. But there are days he drives me crazy when he lacks good old basic common sense. I have learnt not to give any instructions to him for the following day after 4pm as he has a 12 pack calling his name and that is what is on his mind. Every day. He will forget any instruction or arrangement etc. I know he has had some ups and downs going on in his life.
But, he is a great guy, does good work and he makes me money. But there are days I wonder if he worth the stress.

When I get to grumbling about these things my wife is quick to remind me ”no one cares about your business like you do.”
 

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I currently have an employee we will call Juan (not real name). He is usually punctual and works to the best of his ability. Juan is eager to learn but certainly not the sharpest chisel in the box. He has a good attitude but makes stupid mistakes repeatedly because he lacks common sense or is just careless (recently a broken window that cost $600). I've always thought that you can teach all things except work ethic, but my mind is changing. Has anyone had an employee like this? Did they improve?
Everyone makes mistakes, even the best of us, but when someone doesn't learn from their mistakes and continues to fk'up and start costing you money, that's when you get rid of them, before your reputation goes with them.
 

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How did a 600$ window get broken?? This is construction and glass breaks. The glass didn't cost 600$
Why didn't you have a more qualified carpenter dealing with this if you know he was a ,,, well not the best for the job?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
How did a 600$ window get broken?? This is construction and glass breaks. The glass didn't cost 600$
Why didn't you have a more qualified carpenter dealing with this if you know he was a ,,, well not the best for the job?
The glass sure as **** was $600 for materials only. A large double insulated pane on a greenhouse. He was trying to pull a duplex nail next to it that was holding a temporary tarp and set the nail puller on the glass.
 

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If he put the puller against glass sounds like he should have been kicking rocks long ago. He’s costing you 600 a week in stress easy. Are you trembling when he rolls out

Mike
 

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(recently a broken window that cost $600).
The glass sure as **** was $600 for materials only. A large double insulated pane on a greenhouse. He was trying to pull a duplex nail next to it that was holding a temporary tarp and set the nail puller on the glass.
Ok so it's not a window. Defiantly needed a more qualified person on that one (y)
 
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