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Shingler extraordinaire
Sales Estimator/ Project Manager
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I need some advise on how you guys handle this situation....

kid wants to be a construction apprentice. First full real work day, he can't carry a bundle 12' up the ladder. Talk to him, say it gets easier with time...."I can't do it, I don't want to"

Boo phucking hoo....trying to build his spirit a little I told him about a girl that used to work for me....first time she grabbed a bundle her eyeballs about popped from her head, but she said "no way am I gonna be the one who cant do it" and built herself up and was lumping bundles without breathing hard within a week and a half. She was 5'10 maybe 135....told him it's in your head you can do it...it'll get easier. Again "I can't, I don't want to."

This had the opposite effect I was hoping it would on the kid. Ugh! Gave him tomorrow off to consider his wanting to be in construction.

Its a tie in job at a country club....they built an addition and we have about 5 squares of tie in to do. His primary objective tomorrow was to lump bundles and help pull shingles and keep it clean. But if I'm gonna have to carry the damn things up the ladder myself, there is not much point in having him there. And in my experience, when someone says I can't and gives up to something as simple as carrying a few bundles up 12' of ladder....it's not gonna get any better. He really wanted to do the carpentry jobs I get on occasion, decks, additions, sunrooms, flooring etc....he wants to be hanging trim and such. Doesnt seem really interested in earning his stripes and paying his dues.

Told him he's not going to get anybody to just start him on finish carpentry and if he wanted to be doing decks he was going to be digging 4' deep 20" wide holes, or a sunroom or an addition we'd be setting 400lb beams. 5 sq of bundles at 12' up is about as easy as its gonna get....and I wasnt rushing, just wanted a couple then let him rest do some light cleaning and laying I&W down ahead of me. Kid "can't" do it.

So what say you? How do I motivate this kid or should I not even try?
 

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Livin the dream...
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I saw the title and was going to say to give him some time. However, when someone says, "I can't" or "I don't want to," well...that's a whole different story. Doesn't sound like a keeper and doesn't sound like he has even the initial makings of a mind to be in the trades.

Hardest day of work in I ever did was my first day in the trades. At 16, on a hot summer day we were tearing of a roof. Except the guys were tearing it off by the 4x8 sheet with the shingles still on them. It was me and another young guys job to carry them across the roof and lob them into the dumpster. My little forearms were pushed to the max to grip the decayed, floppy sheets.

After that day I was having serious doubts about my summer job choice. Thing about it is, when you're around real men, you start to become a real man and stuff like that starts to be just part of a days work. Here I am ten years later.

I could sympathize if he said I can't because he either physically couldn't do it, or mentally was afraid of the ladder plus the extra weight. But the "I don't want to" is not a good sign.
 

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For what it's worth I think you made the right call. Explaining that there will be tougher work ahead and giving him a day off to decide if this is the right field for him.

I would be hard pressed to ever say things like "I don't want to" or "I can't" to my boss. Even as a rookie I remember a few times of thinking fake it until you make it and that you have pay your dues like everyone else. Not sure about your operation, but I have been on some commercial jobs where bad attitudes spread like wildfire.

Best of luck to you and I'm sure you will get some great advise here. Hopefully he will be back with a new attitude.
 

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Accidental Painter
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2,292 Posts
Pick a bundle up, & have him either follow you with a bundle or quit.

Grunt with him the first few times, if he can't keep up out he goes. That's what I do with my help.

I tell them I wouldn't have them do something I wouldn't. And then show em. Then I tell them they are there to free me up to sell the next job to keep them employed. So, as long as they are willing to work, I'll find it for them.

That puts the ball in their court & you find out real quick if they are 1 check wonders or not.
 

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I always show them how to lift brick tongs. Sometimes they're just doing it in an awkward way. One guy was lifting them with his thumbs, it was weird. Showed him the proper technique and he thought it was much easier. He didn't last but that's a different story
 

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Box Builder
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The "I don't want to" is a pretty bad sign. I think I would try one more day with the kid, and see if he turns around. Have you asked him what he expected to be doing with this job? I work solo for the most part, so I'm doing all the crap jobs too, but for the most part everyone has to do some stuff they would rather not every once and awhile. There are definitely other people out there that can lump shingles.
 

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Theological Carpenter
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When you say, 'kid', how old are we talking? If he's 16, I say give him some time. If we're talking 20, I say drop his whiny butt. Like everyone else said, the "I don't want to" is what is scary. If he's in his late teens early 20's, he's already set in his ways. If this is his first job and he's just not used to being pushed, you might just be able to teach him to take pride in doing things he thought he couldn't.
 

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When he said "I don't want to ", I would have looked him in the eye and followed up with "be in construction, is that what you're telling me?"...

Then I would have said "you're stronger than you think... I've seen lots of guys who thought they couldn't do it, do it, but it's the ones who say I don't want to are usually the ones who are their worst enemy. So the question you have to ask yourself is do you mean you don't want to or you do but you're having trouble doing it"...

I can work with "I'm having trouble", no employer can work with I don't want to"...
 

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Shingler extraordinaire
Sales Estimator/ Project Manager
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
When you say, 'kid', how old are we talking? If he's 16, I say give him some time. If we're talking 20, I say drop his whiny butt. Like everyone else said, the "I don't want to" is what is scary. If he's in his late teens early 20's, he's already set in his ways. If this is his first job and he's just not used to being pushed, you might just be able to teach him to take pride in doing things he thought he couldn't.
He is 20
 
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