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I've only been out on my own a year after twenty working for others. Even after holding top level jobs with previous employers it never ceases to amaze me how different things look from the owner's box.
When a marginally productive employee destroys a $2,000 tool while improperly carrying it to the tool shed would you fire him? He knows the proper way to do it.

Your thoughts on attaching consequences to careless employee mistakes and is a marginally productive employee really worth employing?
 

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Rick Newell said:
I've only been out on my own a year after twenty working for others. Even after holding top level jobs with previous employers it never ceases to amaze me how different things look from the owner's box.
When a marginally productive employee destroys a $2,000 tool while improperly carrying it to the tool shed would you fire him? He knows the proper way to do it.

Your thoughts on attaching consequences to careless employee mistakes and is a marginally productive employee really worth employing?
Explain the weekly reduction in pay due to his destruction of property. A written reprimand and weekly reduction will either cause him to quit or cause him to be more carefull. Also explain your position realizing the tool has depreciated since its purchase and will only require him to pay for the repair or a portion of the depreciated value. Or he already feels sick about what he has done and is remorsefull, you may gain a better employee for life if you tell him "Youre only human, it could of happened to anyone" But under the understanding if it happens again they will have to dig up the rose bushes to find your body....lol Good Luck....Ive been in those gut wrentching decision periods where you feel your damned either way .
 

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Rick, If we could all find good employees life would be much easier unfortunately most of have to play with the cards that we are dealt.
First, does the employee show any future potential? If not discard. If so try to channel him.
If you decide to keep him, he has to understand what he did wrong and the ramifications of his actions. Explain to him that he broke a very expensive piece of equipment when he knew the proper handling methods and that everybody in the company will have to pay for it including yourself. You can elaborate on this by bringing up raises, bonuses, company party, 401K, et al that will have to be delayed, reduced or prolonged due to losses and stress how this affects the entire workforce. During this process observe the employee carefully and if they show remorse they may be a keeper. If they are flippant, don't let the door hit them on the way out or they might sue.
On the marginally productive employee issue. Some will go through life as such, others are searching for a niche where they can excel. Unfortunately it takes time and effort to differentiate the two.
Case in point. Years ago I hired a teenaged carpenter who loved working with wood,At that time I didn't have all that much woodwork and when I would apply him to another task he basically lollygagged. He moved on to a cabinet shop and a few years later went out on his own. He is currently THE custom cabinet maker for a number of high-end developer/contractors. If I had his money I'd burn mine.
 

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I am an advocate of giving warnings. Now a $2000 warning is a BIG one... but I bet the repair of the tool is much less. Now if this employee has a history of being careless then maybe it is time for his release.

Needless to say if I were in your shoes I would have a talk with the guy. It would go something like this:

The tool you bested was $2000 brand new and the shop says it's going to cost $x to fix it. I know you know the proper way to care for the tool. If you were in my position what would you do?
 
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Everyone is so quick to jump on the employee. Was he screwing around, or do you just view his actions as careless in hyndsight. The bottom line is that you are the employer and it is you that take the risk of owning equipment and paying people to operate and handle it. If he is careless with no future or other assests then you need to get him out of your crew. If this is not a reqular thing, you need to suck it up.

I don't even know if it is legal to try and make him pay for it. And if you did, probably none of your guys are going to want to assume the risk of moving your tools around. Could it have been an accident?

If one of your guys gets in a traffic accident in one of your trucks do you expect them to pay for it?

Stuff happens, it is all part of the business. Judge your employee based on their performance, if he is otherwise a good employee, you can't jump on him for an accident
 

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If you were in my position what would you do?
Great question to ask him Grump.



I don't even know if it is legal to try and make him pay for it. And if you did, probably none of your guys are going to want to assume the risk of moving your tools around.

good point. Depending on if it was an accident or not.
 

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Unregistered sounds like a union guy.
 
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Teetorbilt said:
Unregistered sounds like a union guy.

Not even close Teetor, I am probably as anti-union as it comes. I expect my employees to take responsibility for themselves. I do try to treat them better than most in the industry, it goes a long way toward loyalty and team work. Now if the employee is a total bonehead and he is messing up equipment, he has to go. But if he is otherwise a good employee who made a mistake, or even a judgment error, I think the business has to accept the risk that tools will get broken due to operator error.

You come down on the guy for a mistake and you are going to develop a lot of conflict between you and the field guys. On the other hand, if you make sure the guy is o.k. then let him and the whole crew know that they need to take steps to be more careful, maybe identify which tools require two guys to carry, etc...you are going to start to develop some loyalty with these guys that is worth way more than any $2,000.00 tool.
 

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But if he is otherwise a good employee who made a mistake, or even a judgment error, I think the business has to accept the risk that tools will get broken due to operator error.
good point.
I was a forklift driver for years and years, had 2 small accidents years apart at 2 different companies. I ended up working at both companies for quite awhile after. Did I pay for the door I smashed? no. Did they talk to me about it? you bet they did. If I smashed another door would they fire me? either that or take away my forklift I imagine.

The other accident was small wall damage with a carpet stinger, and I had serious flu and so did every other driver, I was the only one who showed up to work, so they forgave me for 50 bucks worth of damage. I saved them money that day....
 
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Rick,

How much time was spent training this guy how to handle the equipment. How exactly did he damage it. Was it too heavy for him, did he not understand how to handle it?

These guys are no longer working with you as helpers, they are working for you. If the guy is a marginally productive employee, why do you still have him on your crew? Does he work for less pay than others, so you keep him as a helper? Who's choice was it to have him handle the equipment that got damaged?

You yourself said you have only been in the owners box for a short time. You got a lot to learn, jumping on employees isn't going to train them. And jumping on guys who offer their opinion isn't going to help much either.
 
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What did your employee to to make the compactor fall out of the bucket?

I do not know what "they" say about opinions, please enlighten me.
 
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Unregistered said:
What did your employee to to make the compactor fall out of the bucket?

I do not know what "they" say about opinions, please enlighten me.
He positioned it poorly in the bucket and traveled faster than he should have given the rough terrain.

Re: opinions - Given that you've been at this for over 16 years and have experienced, in one form or another, just about every issue, I think it reasonable to conclude that your query is in jest. Thanks again for your insight and encouragement. Without it I may have made the wrong decision and kept the guy on until the next accident happened.
 
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Sorry about the "unregistered" signature on that last post. I forgot to log-in when I came back from browsing other sites. Good night all.

Rick Newell
 

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Rick Newell said:
When a marginally productive employee destroys a $2,000 tool while improperly carrying it to the tool shed would you fire him? He knows the proper way to do it.
I guess the best answer I can come up with is: it depends.

I can tell you one thing, that when I had enough productive employees and work got slow or I thought we could do without him, he would be standing in the center of the bulls-eye to be the first to go! - but that is totally based on him being as you describe marginally productive. I simply wouldn't want him around anyways if I had a choice.

In the very least, I think it is time to sit him down and talk about what happened and let him know that while accidents may happen, in this business people can get killed when they do, this time we were all lucky that nobody was hurt, next time we all might not be so lucky, therefore if another accident happens you are going to have to let him go. This would also be a good time to talk to him about what you can do to help him be more productive. I simply can't stand being around people who aren't willing to work toward their full potential. If all a guy is capable of is picking up trash around the job site then I don't mind if that is all he does, so long as he becomes the best trash picker he can be.


Rick Newell said:
Your thoughts on attaching consequences to careless employee mistakes
Well, you have to be careful, your state labor and wage policies might have something to say specifically about financial consequences you can use. As far as accountability, I'm all for it.

The ideal situation is to promote a team atmosphere where you don't even have to say anything in regard to these situations, where the rest of the team does the talking for you to guys like this. If everybody is happy and productive its not hard to imagine your guys taking him aside during the day and letting him know how it is.
 

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Mike Finley said:
its not hard to imagine your guys taking him aside during the day and letting him know how it is.
LOL that's the ame attitude my father adopted towards disciplining me when I was growing up. He soon realized grounding me didn't effect me in the least, so he began to ground my brothers when I messed up, and they didn't like that! Boy, did they take me aside and tell me how it is on many occasions.
 
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Rick,

Just go and fire the guy, he is a bonehead who damaged your equipment.

Just watch out next time you get in a fender bender, back a piece of equipment into something, your guys may be wondering why you got to keep your job.

If you don't want opinions, why do you post on a message board?
 

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Unregistered said:
Just watch out next time you get in a fender bender, back a piece of equipment into something, your guys may be wondering why you got to keep your job.
There is a simple reason why he gets to keep his job: he's owns the business.

He's the guy with his ass on the line everyday that he steps out the door and goes to work. He's the guy paying insurance, and making payroll to put food on the other guys tables.

It might not be fair, but I can't think of anything in life that is fair. It's always going to be based on the golden rule.

Just remember the small business owner is the guy who has the guts to step out of the field everyday and try to swing for the fences, instead of doing what everybody else does which is sitting in the stands with all the other professional lifer employees and ***** about how unfair everything is.

If you ever step on to the other side of the paycheck you just might find yourself longing for the easy money back on the side you came from and are used to. ;)
 

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Unregistered, if you have been around this site for any length of time you know how I treat my employees, we are a family.
I find that employees fall into catagories, you can add to this list if you like.
1) Guy who just needs a job. No drive, bounces from job to job for a $0.25 raise and generally not very dependable.
2) Tradesman who just does a days work for a days pay. Wants no responsibilities other than his job. Dependable, in and out on time, looks forward to annual raises and vacation.
3) Go getter. Someone who is striving to improve his overall condtion. Always early, last to leave. Always has a personal 'day goal' and doesn't leave until it is completed. Expects compensation and promotion. Unfortunately you're training this guy so that he will eventually become your competition. I love these guys and most of the ones that have gone out on their own I am still in touch with. I shot work to them to help them get started. My pride and joy earned his MBA and GC while working for me and now builds multi-million dollar homes. Am I sounding fatherly?
 
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