Author Topic: People Management  (Read 6413 times)

creativenikki

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People Management
« on: January 25, 2017, 12:05:51 PM »
I recently purchased a business and I need help motivating and managing my employees.  I purchased a furniture manufacturing company.  We make custom furniture.  It's something I'm passionate about and I love the business.  My employees are pretty good, but I can tell they are slacking off and not working as hard as they could.  Clearly they think I do not notice or care, but I do. 

Prior to owning this company I worked at a bank.  Everyone around me was salaried and the environment was just very different.  I'm used to being able to ask someone to do something and for it to get done.  These guys though?  No.  They work incredibly slowly, make excuses, will not show up and don't call/text, play with their phones on the clock, etc.  The prior owner of the business yelled a lot and was mean/angry.  I'm not like that.  I have tried to create a dialogue with each person and tell them when I need them to go faster, but so far that is not working.  They clearly think I'm an idiot. 

I'm looking for book recommendations or other ideas to help me motivate these guys to work harder/faster.  The techniques I used in the white collar, salaried world just don't work here.  I need to get more comfortable being mean or something, I think.  I'm not sure what to do, but I know I need to change somehow.  I hope this isn't too off topic for this forum.  Any advice is appreciated.

BlueHouse

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Re: People Management
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2017, 12:12:51 PM »
Not a book, but would you consider bringing a group of your employees into a meeting and have them discuss ways to make the company more productive?  Explain some of the problems, explain that if the company loses money then they lose jobs, then have them come up with solutions.

I do this in training classes when we're just discussing allowable behaviors for the class and it's amazing how many classes will self-regulate cell phone and computer usage during class time. If I said they couldn't use cell phones, I'd have a mutiny, but when they come up with the ideas, it works and the team members don't want to let other team members down.

creativenikki

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Re: People Management
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2017, 12:23:59 PM »
I am going to have a discussion with everyone (again) on Friday and I will try this.  I'm always telling them that I am open to any and all suggestions to make our shop more efficient.  I feel I've proven that because I do listen to them and take their input on things. 

I have only owned this business for 6 months, but I have made several improvements.  I added shelving to organize materials.  I remodeled the bathroom.  I added a kitchen (yes, for 20 years this shop didn't have so much as a kitchen sink).  I've done a lot to make the place a better work environment, and not just by no longer yelling at everyone.  Some of them appreciate it and are awesome.  Others, not so much.  I just cannot seem to get through to a couple of them and it is frustrating and expensive that I keep paying people who don't pull their own weight. 

prognastat

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Re: People Management
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2017, 12:58:05 PM »
You mention that some are more appreciate and possibly receptive to your management. It may be worthwhile to start using an incentive/disincentive structure. It may cost a little to implement these, but in the long run they may lead to the average productivity increasing and making up for the cost an then some.

Things like giving employees that perform well the first schedule picks, priority for time off requests, yearly reviews that impact raises etc.

Proud Foot

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Re: People Management
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2017, 01:06:33 PM »
How much of the production cycle is each individual employees responsible for? Is each one only responsible for a certain portion of the manufacturing or are they responsible start to finish for individual items? 

creativenikki

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Re: People Management
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2017, 01:07:05 PM »
I will have to try and come up with some incentives that work for them... unfortunately, we all work the same schedule and I've never denied a time off request (can't imagine doing that, to be honest).  I did give end of the year bonuses, and they were definitely at my discretion. 

We don't have a formal performance review structure right now.  I just meet with people as needed to address issues.  Maybe it's just me, but we always had regular performance reviews in my bank jobs and they were a waste of time for me.  They always felt like a lot of red tape because I never got any meaningful feedback.  I'm not opposed to the idea, but I am not sure what makes the most sense. 

I am lucky that I have several employees who have an excellent work ethic.  I'd love to find a way to reward them that doesn't break the bank.  I wonder if $50 gift cards or something would offer any motivation.  The last thing I wan to do is appear patronizing or insult anyone.  If I could afford to give the best guys several thousand dollars, I would, but that's not in the cards right now. 

NoStacheOhio

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Re: People Management
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2017, 01:11:13 PM »
Some sort of profit-sharing tied to performance might work.

Do they respect you? Do you know enough to reasonably do the jobs you're asking them to do?

One of my biggest problems in my current role is that our director is kind of incompetent, both at management and actually doing the work. It's hard to get excited about the work sometimes in that situation (even if it isn't actually true).

creativenikki

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Re: People Management
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2017, 01:11:52 PM »
How much of the production cycle is each individual employees responsible for? Is each one only responsible for a certain portion of the manufacturing or are they responsible start to finish for individual items?

We have a several different areas.  I have carpenters who build and sand frames, a finisher who applies stain and varnish, an upholster who does almost nothing but apply webbing and springs, a cutter who cuts the fabric, seamstresses who sew pillows and for the upholsterers, several upholsterers who put on the foam and the fabric and another guy that does mainly cushions and checks the pieces prior to wrapping them for delivery.  So, I guess it's pretty broken up.  The office manager and I assign the work to everyone.  We decide when to put order into production, how to prioritize them, who does what pieces, etc. 

neo von retorch

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Re: People Management
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2017, 01:22:36 PM »
From what I've read, you can't motivate people, at least not on an ongoing basis. The best you can do is avoid de-motivating them. I'm hearing a couple things:

* Some of the employees may have come under your care already de-motivated by their previous boss
* Some of the employees are not pulling their weight - which may de-motivate the others if you keep them around (or otherwise find a way to change things)

Some additional thoughts:

* Money is typically a short-term motivator, and tends to undermine intrinsic motivation
* People like working on teams that work together to accomplish something
* People like to know how the work they do connects to people (customers) and the big picture
* People like to contribute to problem-solving and use their (unique) talents to be a part of the solution
* People like to see that they're doing quality work; they like to improve over time; they like to see that the team (and leadership) cares as much about being able to do quality work as they do

Retire-Canada

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Re: People Management
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2017, 01:27:06 PM »
Get rid of the worst performer. It will send a message to the rest. Don't stop all the other positive stuff you have mentioned, but demonstrate there is a stick.

iris lily

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Re: People Management
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2017, 01:28:11 PM »
Not a book, but would you consider bringing a group of your employees into a meeting and have them discuss ways to make the company more productive?  Explain some of the problems, explain that if the company loses money then they lose jobs, then have them come up with solutions.

I do this in training classes when we're just discussing allowable behaviors for the class and it's amazing how many classes will self-regulate cell phone and computer usage during class time. If I said they couldn't use cell phones, I'd have a mutiny, but when they come up with the ideas, it works and the team members don't want to let other team members down.
Why do you think  they care if the company is more productive?

davef

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Re: People Management
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2017, 01:31:41 PM »
There are only 3 ways to motivate people. Fear, money and pride.

Fear only makes people work hard enough to not get fired.
Money, will usually buy employees that are "good enough" but at the end of the day, when you turn your back, or they think they can get away with something, they will do it.
Pride is the only thing that will make people go beyond the call of duty, to work when no one is looking, or do the little details that are unlikely to get noticed.

How do you lead with pride?
-First of all, treat your people with respect. no yelling. It sounds like you already do that.
-Demand respect in turn. Insist they treat you and other members of management with basic respect. if they don't give them one warning, if they try again get rid of them. Sometimes when a nice guy like you comes in you get branded as a pushover. Once you fire a few people (that everyone knows deserve to be fired) it goes a long way toward shrugging that reputation.

- lead by example, dont be afraid to roll up your sleeves and do any job that needs to be done around the factory.
-work hard
-expect your workers to work hard. they wont work as hard as you, but you can expect and demand a healthy work ethic.

Grant TIme off if it is possible for you to give it (it sounds like you do)
A no call no show should be termination on the first offence, unless they were hospitalized. Do not tolerate that stuff. Its one thing to not be able to make it, because the car broke down, grandma died, son in trouble in school, etc. in all of these cases you should receive a call.

Reward loyalty with both financial rewards and empowerment to lead.
In my experience the later is far more important.
Figure out your culture, who among the workers garners respect. Are they a good influence or a poor one? If they are a good one empower them. If they are a bad one seek to coach or remove them.

Search for barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship. Remove those Barrier.

In my experience, managing 4 sears stores and now my own business, the best way to get your culture in step is to make everyone there proud to do what they do. If they are not proud of the company or their job, they will never be better than mediocre.

GreenSheep

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Re: People Management
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2017, 01:36:40 PM »
Many good points above, particularly regarding non-monetary motivation and the fact that you may simply have to let some unsalvageable people go.

Keeping in mind that I read this a few years ago, that I received it as a gift, and that I'm not exactly a businessperson... this book might be helpful to you. The author has built a huge travel company and, according to him at least, seems to have a dedicated group of people working for him.

https://www.amazon.com/Looptail-Company-Changed-Reinventing-Business-ebook/dp/B00BAXG1GI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485376312&sr=8-1&keywords=the+looptail

BlueHouse

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Re: People Management
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2017, 01:47:52 PM »
Not a book, but would you consider bringing a group of your employees into a meeting and have them discuss ways to make the company more productive?  Explain some of the problems, explain that if the company loses money then they lose jobs, then have them come up with solutions.

I do this in training classes when we're just discussing allowable behaviors for the class and it's amazing how many classes will self-regulate cell phone and computer usage during class time. If I said they couldn't use cell phones, I'd have a mutiny, but when they come up with the ideas, it works and the team members don't want to let other team members down.
Why do you think  they care if the company is more productive?
Someone always cares.  I'm not sure all of them care, but some do.  And if the alternative is that the company loses money and goes out of business....well...

BlueHouse

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Re: People Management
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2017, 01:48:13 PM »
I am going to have a discussion with everyone (again) on Friday and I will try this.  I'm always telling them that I am open to any and all suggestions to make our shop more efficient.  I feel I've proven that because I do listen to them and take their input on things. 

I have only owned this business for 6 months, but I have made several improvements.  I added shelving to organize materials.  I remodeled the bathroom.  I added a kitchen (yes, for 20 years this shop didn't have so much as a kitchen sink).  I've done a lot to make the place a better work environment, and not just by no longer yelling at everyone.  Some of them appreciate it and are awesome.  Others, not so much.  I just cannot seem to get through to a couple of them and it is frustrating and expensive that I keep paying people who don't pull their own weight.

Nice!  good luck! 

You probably do this already, but it wouldn't be second nature to me, so I'll say it.  Give this the importance it deserves and make it a sit-down meeting with no other distractions.  Make sure someone (you, a facilitator, someone others in the company respect, or just someone who can write) writes the ideas down as they are brought up.  On a whiteboard is best, but if it has to be just a piece of paper, that works too.  As these are written down, get consensus from others in the room.  Be able to laugh.  If someone offers a suggestion such as "no cell phone calls when you're on the shop floor" and others say no, ask for an alternative that would meet the needs but might also meet whatever objection the second person has.  Try to make this a fun exercise.  Remember, people LOVE saying things that bother them about other people...so expect a lot of "no eating in an area where work is going on" or "no gum-chewing". 
I once had someone say there shouldn't be any typing in a class while the instructor (me) was speaking.  I had never thought about that, but it was irritating to enough people that we made it a rule for our course. 
If it makes sense for someone else to type it up and send it out afterwards, do it.  If that person is you, let them all know "I'm going to type all of these guidelines up and send them around so we all have a copy"  They are making a commitment! 


« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 02:01:37 PM by BlueHouse »

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Re: People Management
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2017, 02:08:05 PM »
I have found that if you treat people like children, they will act like children.  The opposite also tends to be true.  When I hire new IT administrators, I give them admin credentials days one.  I explain that I assume they are professionals and will be treated as such until they prove me wrong. 

Make sure expectations are set.  Their job is to get X done, your job is to make sure they have the skills/resources to do X.  If X is not getting done, is it a training deficiency, tool/resource deficiency, do they need some mentoring.  It is usually cheaper to train and/or mentor than replace employees. 

Create an open and idea friendly environment.  Listen to and encourage ideas from employees.  "how do you think X can best be accomplished?"  Ask what they want out of the job.

As a business person, you have a vested interest in their development.  Make sure you both realize this.  Bad employees cost you money, but don't let it show that this is your motivation.  Most people care about someone who cares about them. 

Sometimes you have to fire someone.  It sucks.  However, if either side is surprised by the firing, you really need to examine why both sides did not see it coming.

Know your employees.  Stop in the hallway or break room and ask how their dog is doing, send a plant to their home if something bad is going on.  Do a little of this often, not just at review time or structured meeting time. 

People follow leaders, they fight dictators. 

lifejoy

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Re: People Management
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2017, 03:08:37 PM »
I'm a director at a library. The approach suggested where you get ideas from staff during a meeting would NOT work in my environment. People would not want to speak up, and not want to stand out as "the person who made it so everyone can no longer use their cell phones at work", for example.

High standards, lead by example, have consequences.

Are your standards high, and crystal clear? Are you leading by example? (Always on time, never publicly on your cell phone). What consequences are their for your staff members that don't care? It sounds like: nothing. Could you not cut their hours? Explain that you need someone that is more productive, so if you don't see an improvement you'll have to cut their hours and get someone more efficient to do their work?

Do people have scheduled break times, or are they taking breaks all throughout the day?

I agree with posters that say disengaged staff will not give a crap about your company's productivity. What's it to them? They take home the same pay cut every day.

I would say, share the love you have for the work. Focus on the customer, and how the work you all do is going to bring joy into their lives. Bring in random delicious snacks as a perk. Keep it sporadic. Do nice things for your employees when it makes sense to do so. Strongly consider letting go the laggers. It can really change a company culture when the low-performers get canned. As long as you do it in such a way that it doesn't make others fear for their jobs.

Hope there were some useful nuggets in here :)

davef

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Re: People Management
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2017, 09:32:49 AM »
I'm a director at a library. The approach suggested where you get ideas from staff during a meeting would NOT work in my environment. People would not want to speak up, and not want to stand out as "the person who made it so everyone can no longer use their cell phones at work", for example.

Every Environment and every person is different. You need multiple avenues for people to make suggestions. Some will say what they think in front of everyone, but most people will only say it one on one, a few, prefer to say things anonymously for fear of retribution. Its good to provide all three vessels for communication.

erae

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Re: People Management
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2017, 09:47:40 AM »
Are your standards high, and crystal clear?

I think this is the biggest piece. If you're aligned with folks on the standards for their work (quantity, quality bar, etc) then you can spend less time policing HOW they do the work (cell phone usage, breaks, etc.) and set yourself up to reward high performers and let the low performers go. 

ysette9

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Re: People Management
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2017, 10:07:48 AM »
What an interesting situation. I see a lot of good factors here that mean you can turn this around. First of all, since you are the boss and the owner, you can change a lot of things and experiment.

  • First of all I think you need to address the incentives. When I've worked with hourly/union folks in my job I've found this incredibly difficult because the way the rules are structured, there is a disincentive to work more efficiently. If you can drag the job out then you can get overtime and finish up the work over the weekend. Since you can change things, make sure there is some tie-in to their compensation package of either individual or team productivity. For example: if your contracts with customers are structured so that an early delivery means more $ for you (or conversely, late delivery means a penalty), pass this on to the employees in a very transparent manner. Give them a stake in an efficient outcome.
  • Secondly, I think you need to measure and openly communicate clear and easy-to-understand productivity metrics. Post these weekly around the shop. In your staff meetings (assuming you have them) make that a regular topic. Make sure they know what is coming through the pipeline, what your goals are for turnaround time, and how each individual or small team makes that happen. Think about whether you can inject some healthy team competition to promote efficiency. Celebrate successes in whatever way motivates people (parties, recognition certificates, monetary rewards, employee of the month, tickets to an event, etc.).
  • In my role as a lead of an hourly/union team I found that initially spending a lot of time on the floor with the people as they worked helped build trust. I asked them about how they did their jobs and asked for their input when building manufacturing schedules. We also go to know each other on a personal level by talking about kids or weekend plans or whatever. This really improved the team dynamic over time. I try to bring the same attitude of listening/learning from my team to all of my management roles to build rapport.

lifejoy

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Re: People Management
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2017, 10:17:59 AM »
I'm a director at a library. The approach suggested where you get ideas from staff during a meeting would NOT work in my environment. People would not want to speak up, and not want to stand out as "the person who made it so everyone can no longer use their cell phones at work", for example.

Every Environment and every person is different. You need multiple avenues for people to make suggestions. Some will say what they think in front of everyone, but most people will only say it one on one, a few, prefer to say things anonymously for fear of retribution. Its good to provide all three vessels for communication.

Very true. Having multiple options is great.

creativenikki

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Re: People Management
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2017, 12:24:37 PM »
Thank you everyone for the responses, there is a lot of good stuff here I want to implement.

I feel like, overall, I need to look to myself first.  I know now I need to start coming to the shop earlier.  The guys here start at 6:00 am.  Initially it was impossible for me to be here that early because my daughter's daycare didn't open until 7:00 and my husband was required to be at work at 7:00.  But, my husband has a new boss now, so he can do the drop offs and I can do the picking up and come in at 6:00. 

I announced last Monday that we would no longer be doing overtime for the time being.  I mentioned that it is both because we are a little slow this time of year and also that I know people are not working as efficiently as they should be.  I'm very transparent with everyone.  We we also planning on closing the shop one day a week, but that now has everyone freaking out, so I think I might go back to the regular 5 days just no overtime.  The prior owner did close the shop on occasion when it was slow though, so this is not a new thing. 

I brought in bagels today and had another meeting where we talked about cell phone use during work.  It sucks because, in general, I have a few bad performers dragging everyone down.  I would like to get rid of these people, but I can't just do it right now.  I need to document, document, document or they will file (and probably get) unemployment.  No one is so blatantly awful that they can't claim they do the minimum required, they just don't work efficiently and drag out small projects in order to build up overtime hours.  But, that jig is up. 

Ultimately, I don't want to turn into the prior owner.  I emphasize that to everyone here because I think a calm and collected management style is just better than someone yelling and constantly nagging.  A few people are seeing that as a weakness though, which is super annoying.  I guess I've learned I just need to watch them more.  I am having a hard time coming up with incentives that matter to these guys, too.  I'm trying to play on their pride more, because I guess I feel like that's the best card I have to play right now.  I think where I have done well is that everyone here is comfortable coming to me with their issues and ideas.  Unfortunately many of those ideas involve giving them more money, which I just cannot do every time someone asks.  One of the guys wants to leave because of the closing on Fridays.  He's good, but not the best or anything.  I cannot decide what to do...

Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble!

NoStacheOhio

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Re: People Management
« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2017, 12:59:46 PM »
I brought in bagels today and had another meeting where we talked about cell phone use during work.  It sucks because, in general, I have a few bad performers dragging everyone down.  I would like to get rid of these people, but I can't just do it right now.  I need to document, document, document or they will file (and probably get) unemployment.  No one is so blatantly awful that they can't claim they do the minimum required, they just don't work efficiently and drag out small projects in order to build up overtime hours.  But, that jig is up. 

I'm sorry, what?

I get that unemployment costs business owners money, but this is just a dick move.

creativenikki

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Re: People Management
« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2017, 01:08:33 PM »
Does it surprise you that someone fired would file for unemployment?  I have zero doubt that they would, and that is a considerable cost to me as an employer if anyone does since my rates would be elevated for years.  Combine their bad work with me talking about no overtime and they'll try and say they were laid off and deserve unemployment.  It's on me to prove that that isn't the case. 

lifejoy

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Re: People Management
« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2017, 07:42:55 PM »
Www.askamanager.org

Write her. Or look up advice on her site. Big time.

Can you cut the hours of the laggers?

MattC

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Re: People Management
« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2017, 02:55:26 PM »
I'm personally a fan of Drive, by Daniel Pink as a good, short book about motivation.  It's written with an eye to more high tech enterprises, but has applications to all businesses and even other aspects of life.  It's at least worth a read of the top amazon reviews of it to see if it's covering the info you want a book to cover.  In short, it says that carrots and sticks is not the way to get good productivity.  Those remove people's internal motivations for doing work (pride in accomplishment; camraderie, etc.).  It's more about creating a supportive environment for people to do their best work.   

lifejoy

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Re: People Management
« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2017, 03:11:52 PM »
I also like "Switch" by dan and chip Heath, for similar reasons.

Retire-Canada

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Re: People Management
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2017, 03:21:34 PM »
How closely are you supervising the production team? Are you with them on the shop floor all day or are you in an office and just pop out to check on them throughout the day? Do you have a supervisor below you who is present on the shop floor - like a foreman?

Proud Foot

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Re: People Management
« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2017, 08:40:48 AM »
I brought in bagels today and had another meeting where we talked about cell phone use during work.  It sucks because, in general, I have a few bad performers dragging everyone down.  I would like to get rid of these people, but I can't just do it right now.  I need to document, document, document or they will file (and probably get) unemployment.  No one is so blatantly awful that they can't claim they do the minimum required, they just don't work efficiently and drag out small projects in order to build up overtime hours.  But, that jig is up. 

I'm sorry, what?

I get that unemployment costs business owners money, but this is just a dick move.

How is that a dick move NoStache?  Some states do not approve unemployment benefits if you are fired with cause.  In this case the owner would want to document everything leading up to the firing so they could show that it was with cause.  I do not know if being fired for being a low production employee would be enough to deny benefits though.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: People Management
« Reply #29 on: January 30, 2017, 09:35:08 AM »
I brought in bagels today and had another meeting where we talked about cell phone use during work.  It sucks because, in general, I have a few bad performers dragging everyone down.  I would like to get rid of these people, but I can't just do it right now.  I need to document, document, document or they will file (and probably get) unemployment.  No one is so blatantly awful that they can't claim they do the minimum required, they just don't work efficiently and drag out small projects in order to build up overtime hours.  But, that jig is up. 

I'm sorry, what?

I get that unemployment costs business owners money, but this is just a dick move.

How is that a dick move NoStache?  Some states do not approve unemployment benefits if you are fired with cause.  In this case the owner would want to document everything leading up to the firing so they could show that it was with cause.  I do not know if being fired for being a low production employee would be enough to deny benefits though.

Just get rid of them and move on, unemployment insurance is one of the costs of doing business.

neo von retorch

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Re: People Management
« Reply #30 on: January 30, 2017, 09:45:13 AM »
Just get rid of them and move on, unemployment insurance is one of the costs of doing business.

I am not a business owner, but it seems to me - if you hire someone, and they do not perform the duties they were hired to do, they should not receive unemployment benefits for being fired. That's different from a layoff, where the company as a whole isn't performing well enough, and has to reduce costs by cutting staff.

Fishindude

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Re: People Management
« Reply #31 on: January 30, 2017, 09:48:59 AM »
Like it or not, money is a huge motivator.   
Best thing we ever did was set up a bonus program where all key managers have potential to earn a significant bonus every month, with some based on the performance of their area of control and some based on company bottom line.  We are very transparent with financials, and review them monthly with the group so everyone can see where we are at.  Also do one on one reviews with every manager ever month to work on their personal issues.  If your managers are doing their job, they will keep the hourly rank & file in line and productive.

You also may need to terminate some bad eggs.  One negative person that talks BS all the time will drag down a group, making them all unproductive. 

Little things go a long way for the rank & file.  Feed them a meal, let them out early on a Friday or Holiday, personal recognition & awards, new tee shirts, etc.  On really good years, we also will give a nice year end cash bonus to every hourly employee at the Christmas luncheon, some years as much as $2,000.  Share the wealth.  If they are earning their bonuses, your personal bottom line will improve accordingly.

lifejoy

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Re: People Management
« Reply #32 on: January 30, 2017, 06:52:46 PM »
Sounds like you've been really nice but there have been no negative consequences for the laggers. Why wouldn't they continue coasting?

SuperMex

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Re: People Management
« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2017, 01:45:55 AM »
I don't have the magic answer as I retired mid 2015 from the military and took a management job for the government. I have been really struggling with how to motivate my staff because they have a special contract in which I basically can't fire them. They have unlimited sick leave their contract says they can't come to work so drunk they can't perform their duties. The ridiculousness goes on and on in this contract.

What I have learned so far that works with civilians.

1. They very much care what the group thinks of their work quality - You can use this to create a group dynamic and then isolate the nonperformers from the group.

2. They all instinctually know who the slackers and nonperformers are - I have always said if I was in a situation like you are I would ask everyone to put two names into a hat of who they would fire if they were the owner. I would then just say 29 out of 30 of your coworkers think you are the weak link, why is that? I would make the person see that everyone feels they aren't pulling their weight and if they failed to improve I would send them home. In the military we do this at leadership and elite training schools it is called being "peered out"

3. Public recognition of top performers does keep them motivated. Safety awards, employee of the quarter, annual bonus for the top 10% etc.

4. A quasi non work event really raises moral for a short period of time. During the spring and fall I do a clean up day where everyone wears outside work cloths and we rake the leaves and clean up around our building and the parking lot. I then cook burgers and steaks on the grill for everyone and we eat lunch together.

5. Always refer to the group as a team, when someone is not pulling their weight refer to it as letting down the team. We are in this together either we will be competitive as a team or we will fail as a team. Do you think what you did is fair to the rest of the team.

6. Make sure that employees see you care about their family and life issues. Cards for special occasions, flowers to a wife with a new child or death of a family member. I always say something along the lines of "Our prayers and best wishes are with you in this special moment, from your housing family".


In the end some people just never learn with a carrot they need the stick.

Axecleaver

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Re: People Management
« Reply #34 on: January 31, 2017, 05:21:08 AM »
Read "Three Signs of a Miserable Job" by Patrick Lencioni. This is a short book, a work parable, about how to set meaningful metrics and motivate employees. Productive workers want to be measured. They want to know how to hit the target. If you aren't measuring their work, they have no idea what you perceive as "pulling their weight." It will also help you to set meaningful performance metrics for every job in your shop. If you don't measure it, it isn't important.

Put an objective set of criteria in place, measure it for 30 days, and fire the bottom 20% of your employees. Make it clear that's what's going to happen. You'd be surprised how fast you'll see improvement.

Quote
We don't have a formal performance review structure right now.  I just meet with people as needed to address issues.  Maybe it's just me, but we always had regular performance reviews in my bank jobs and they were a waste of time for me.  They always felt like a lot of red tape because I never got any meaningful feedback.  I'm not opposed to the idea, but I am not sure what makes the most sense. 
This is a big part of your problem, right here. You absolutely need performance reviews. Those reviews need to be based on objective criteria - how many widgets they create per hour. Manufacturing roles are very easy for you to set objective criteria. Creative roles are harder, but everything important is measureable. Just because your bank did a poor job managing performance does not mean managing performance is a bad idea. It is essential. This is a separate topic of its own, but get comfortable with managing performance, rewarding success and punishing failure.

Quote
I need to get more comfortable being mean or something, I think.
No. You don't need to be mean, you need to be fair. There are no consequences for poor performance. All the good employees feel like suckers, because the slackers aren't being punished. This destroys morale a lot faster than no overtime or a four day workweek.

Do you have a human resources policy manual? If not, write one. There are downloadable examples online. No-shows are terminated immediately, no warnings. They will not be able to collect unemployment if they violate the work rules. Then manage to the metrics.

You should also have a list of all of your staff, separated by role, and ranked within the role. Revisit this list weekly. Ideally, it will be ordered by the performance metrics you've defined. If you find that challenging, then order it by your most to least valued employee. If you had to lay off half your staff, would you know who to pick?

I don't think you're failing to fire people because of a fear of unemployment rates increasing. I think you're afraid to fire people, because it's unpleasant. If you can't fire bad employees, your business will self destruct. You can't waste time trying to rehabilitate the poor performers. People must choose to do a good job. You don't care if they do or don't - you only measure their output and get rid of the people who don't perform.

Good luck, keep us posted on your progress!

MightyAl

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Re: People Management
« Reply #35 on: January 31, 2017, 06:09:40 AM »
Read "Three Signs of a Miserable Job" by Patrick Lencioni. This is a short book, a work parable, about how to set meaningful metrics and motivate employees. Productive workers want to be measured. They want to know how to hit the target. If you aren't measuring their work, they have no idea what you perceive as "pulling their weight." It will also help you to set meaningful performance metrics for every job in your shop. If you don't measure it, it isn't important.

Put an objective set of criteria in place, measure it for 30 days, and fire the bottom 20% of your employees. Make it clear that's what's going to happen. You'd be surprised how fast you'll see improvement.

Quote
We don't have a formal performance review structure right now.  I just meet with people as needed to address issues.  Maybe it's just me, but we always had regular performance reviews in my bank jobs and they were a waste of time for me.  They always felt like a lot of red tape because I never got any meaningful feedback.  I'm not opposed to the idea, but I am not sure what makes the most sense. 
This is a big part of your problem, right here. You absolutely need performance reviews. Those reviews need to be based on objective criteria - how many widgets they create per hour. Manufacturing roles are very easy for you to set objective criteria. Creative roles are harder, but everything important is measureable. Just because your bank did a poor job managing performance does not mean managing performance is a bad idea. It is essential. This is a separate topic of its own, but get comfortable with managing performance, rewarding success and punishing failure.

Quote
I need to get more comfortable being mean or something, I think.
No. You don't need to be mean, you need to be fair. There are no consequences for poor performance. All the good employees feel like suckers, because the slackers aren't being punished. This destroys morale a lot faster than no overtime or a four day workweek.

Do you have a human resources policy manual? If not, write one. There are downloadable examples online. No-shows are terminated immediately, no warnings. They will not be able to collect unemployment if they violate the work rules. Then manage to the metrics.

You should also have a list of all of your staff, separated by role, and ranked within the role. Revisit this list weekly. Ideally, it will be ordered by the performance metrics you've defined. If you find that challenging, then order it by your most to least valued employee. If you had to lay off half your staff, would you know who to pick?

I don't think you're failing to fire people because of a fear of unemployment rates increasing. I think you're afraid to fire people, because it's unpleasant. If you can't fire bad employees, your business will self destruct. You can't waste time trying to rehabilitate the poor performers. People must choose to do a good job. You don't care if they do or don't - you only measure their output and get rid of the people who don't perform.

Good luck, keep us posted on your progress!

This sounds like a small shop so firing the bottom 20% is probably out of the questions or there would be nobody there to work.  I think that getting rid of the worst performer would be effective.  OP did the old owner ever fire poor performers?  If they never did and all they did was yell and scream then nobody is going to change their behavior unless they see real consequences.  Even starting the documentation process could alter behaviors if they see you are going to follow through.

I think you are both saying reviews and meaning two different things.  Annual performance reviews have been shown to be ineffective and a giant waste of time.  Monthly, weekly, or daily review of KPIs goes a long way to maintaining efficiency.  Everyone should know what is expected of them and it should be measured objectively.  When people fall short of what is expected of them they should be held accountable.  I find that PIPs (performance improvement plans) go a long way.  People who are underperformers are given a 90 day plan for improvement with objective measures that they must meet or they may be terminated.  I have done 2 of these in the past year and both employees have made drastic improvements.  Mind you I did not do this in a vacuum and made some major changes to assist them in their development. 

Pizza goes a long way.  Don't ask me why but every time I bring in pizza for lunch after some kind of success people go nuts.  It only costs me ~$100 but it goes further than you think.

OP I do envy you and wish I had the cajones to start my own business.  Keep going and if you need any help I would be happy to assist.  I have been working in manufacturing for the past dozen years and have done a little bit of everything.

Dave1442397

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Re: People Management
« Reply #36 on: January 31, 2017, 06:16:30 AM »

2. They all instinctually know who the slackers and nonperformers are - I have always said if I was in a situation like you are I would ask everyone to put two names into a hat of who they would fire if they were the owner. I would then just say 29 out of 30 of your coworkers think you are the weak link, why is that? I would make the person see that everyone feels they aren't pulling their weight and if they failed to improve I would send them home. In the military we do this at leadership and elite training schools it is called being "peered out"


I like that idea. We had a couple of those people in my area when i started my current job. They were both basically lazy and did as little as possible.

One in particular was very annoying. He was assigned to work with me on a project, and immediately started asking questions, bugging me five times a day for information that was all contained in a couple of Word docs that he already had. That was his modus operandi - annoy you so much that you would just do his work for him to get rid of him.

They both got laid off, finally, and boy did it ever improve morale in that department.

Aminul

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Re: People Management
« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2017, 11:10:03 AM »
Luckily I was able to escape from a management role without too much damage being done.  I will share a more recent example of how some union employees were motivated.  I was recently asked to update a report that shows the number of widgets the team members needed to put through in a month.  These numbers were measured against predetermined set of targets based on the type of widget they were working on.  These numbers were posted daily and everyone could see the progress.  They also understood who was working on those widgets the day before even though the report didn't show it.  Nobody wanted to be the one keeping the team from hitting their targets.  The production has doubled since they initially started using the report.

Metrics and pride solved the motivation issue in this instance.  No extra money required.

Goldielocks

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Re: People Management
« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2017, 01:06:33 PM »
How much of the production cycle is each individual employees responsible for? Is each one only responsible for a certain portion of the manufacturing or are they responsible start to finish for individual items?

We have a several different areas.  I have carpenters who build and sand frames, a finisher who applies stain and varnish, an upholster who does almost nothing but apply webbing and springs, a cutter who cuts the fabric, seamstresses who sew pillows and for the upholsterers, several upholsterers who put on the foam and the fabric and another guy that does mainly cushions and checks the pieces prior to wrapping them for delivery.  So, I guess it's pretty broken up.  The office manager and I assign the work to everyone.  We decide when to put order into production, how to prioritize them, who does what pieces, etc.

I have a career as an industrial engineer, and have done a lot of time studies in light manufacturing.   Here are some suggestions:

1)   try a 4 x 10 hr shift.   People may be motivated by seeing a stack of customer orders.     Also reduces the number of breaks and shift starts you have in a week.  People like the extra day off.  Limits overtime that happens even when you aren't very slow, etc.
2) Post the expected pace / half day that they are expected to finish, and chart a graph day by day, and have nice fun rewards for a combination of safety and exceeding personal goals.   Keep it positive, rather than disciplinary on the downside.
3)  Post a goal for the whole team -- e.g., State that your business strategy is an under 5 day order to shipping time for 98% of all orders.  Have a group reward (lunch or ?) when it is met.   Have it be an obtainable goal, but only if there is steady work done at a good pace.
4)  Do your staff have regular height chairs or just sit / stand stools or standing only?   I will emphasize that a full sit down chair is MURDEROUS on your rate of productivity.  (includes forklifts!) 
5)  Look for tasks that they can do with two hands instead of just one.   I had one person who was placing fill into a container, but only used his right hand -- because his reach was limited while sitting down.  The task was simple enough to do with two hands with about an hour of practice, and the pace was almost double.
6)  Remove or reduce access to computers for the general staff.  Have a shared pc station or two only.  Includes supervisors.  So easy to get trapped into PC work / reading instructions, looking t numbrs.  Again...  Momentum says it is hard to get out of that chair.
7)  Mid morning stand up 5-10 minute huddle, to discuss the charts from aboe, and needs / urgent items for the day.  (toyota style)
8) Never allow beer or wine to be stored in the fridge in the break room.  Sets an unprofessional tone for the whole place, may encourage lunch time beers when you are away.  If you have a friday after work social time, bring the beverages, but remove them from property immediately after.  Just seeing them puts people in a complacent state.

9) Random drug testing may be warranted.  (your call, hard to do if not safety related) Smoking pot severely limits a person's ability to connect "urgent need" to their current actions.   It's major function is to help reduce tension.

10)   Increase the number of orders per day, per person.  There simply may be not enough work so a "non urgent" feel abounds.   and a lack of consequences for missing deadlines, too..  maybe even start with letting someone go home early occassionally, when it is all done for the day.   We all will expand our day to match the work that MUST be done... even good employees, when there is not enough.

11)  Ask a few people for feedback about it, that work with you.  Include people from production, ask one to one, after stating your big company strategy / team goal...  (eg., after you set the goal of a 5 day custom order completion to shipping, start asking individually for feedback on what the challenge is, after a day or two).

Good luck!  you are not alone.   Just yelling a lot will get you some productivity now, but blows your ability to adapt to changing customer needs and innovate, which may be a problem for your company long term.