What is your help situation? How are you getting new employees?

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
I was gonna stay out of this at first but here's my two cents.

A guy that my son and I know hired him a couple of years ago knowing that he didn't know a thing about construction. Don't worry I'll teach him and then he'll do it my way and we'll be good. I called him and told him that my son is a very visual learner so he was going to have to show him how to do things. So right off the bat he starts with the I want you to do so and so, and do it this certain way. My son would do his best and then not wanting to mess it up would ask questions and would get the never mind I'll do it myself. He kept telling my son that he would have him watching over jobs in a year and would give him a big raise and on and on. Suddenly he starts with the well you don't even know how to read plans or do take offs or read a tape measure right so I'm not sure that this is going to work out and he finally let him go.

Now what part of "knows nothing about construction did he not understand."

MY point is this, if you want good help, there is nothing at all wrong with hiring a green guy and training him, but if you don't have the patience or you are very picky about how things get done, don't put some new guy through all of that grief.

If we want well trained trades people it's up to us to train them and help them along. On many a job I'll point out things that aren't necessarily code violations, things like crooked pipe or boxes and remind guys that it's the little things that make the difference. Bubble levels are cheap and it only takes a couple of extra seconds at finish to use one and make things look neat and tidy.
 

GLSA

Member
Location
Ut
I was gonna stay out of this at first but here's my two cents.

A guy that my son and I know hired him a couple of years ago knowing that he didn't know a thing about construction. Don't worry I'll teach him and then he'll do it my way and we'll be good. I called him and told him that my son is a very visual learner so he was going to have to show him how to do things. So right off the bat he starts with the I want you to do so and so, and do it this certain way. My son would do his best and then not wanting to mess it up would ask questions and would get the never mind I'll do it myself. He kept telling my son that he would have him watching over jobs in a year and would give him a big raise and on and on. Suddenly he starts with the well you don't even know how to read plans or do take offs or read a tape measure right so I'm not sure that this is going to work out and he finally let him go.

Now what part of "knows nothing about construction did he not understand."

MY point is this, if you want good help, there is nothing at all wrong with hiring a green guy and training him, but if you don't have the patience or you are very picky about how things get done, don't put some new guy through all of that grief.

If we want well trained trades people it's up to us to train them and help them along. On many a job I'll point out things that aren't necessarily code violations, things like crooked pipe or boxes and remind guys that it's the little things that make the difference. Bubble levels are cheap and it only takes a couple of extra seconds at finish to use one and make things look neat and tidy.
The lack of training is something this industry has to really work on and be dedicated to. When I went through my apprenticeship it was more of "what do you know" and then the contractor will have you work on what you already know. They didn't want to invest in their people and then what happens is the apprentice turns out and becomes an average JW that can't do nothing but the basics.
 

GLSA

Member
Location
Ut
No.... How would you go about doing this? Like a catered dinner and a public invite? I'm intrigued .....
Both the union and non union shops do it around here. Some of them pay for a booth at a convention or show that would more likely have trades people attending, like a hunting and fishing expo or boat show.

Some of them have a meet and greet at their shop or at the union hall and they usually have food. I think it is a good way to get your name out there and also provide guys a way to kind of get a feel for your company with out jumping ship and then realizing they made a mistake.
 

cpinetree

Senior Member
Location
SW Florida
it's the little things that make the difference. Bubble levels are cheap and it only takes a couple of extra seconds at finish to use one and make things look neat and tidy.
We stress a quality job is the only thing that matters, if you want cheap work find another company. We will do the job correctly the first time in a neat and workman like manner, but there are costs involved. Our prices reflect what it costs to run a business and keep good help.

Several times I have taken phone calls from people (Price shoppers) and told them if you are looking for the cheapest price ours won't be it, but we will do X for you. Sometimes it works sometimes not, but I won't waste my time or theirs responding to look at jobs when the only thing wanted is cheap.

No one ever remembers how long it took, but they see the quality long after you are gone!
 

JFletcher

Senior Member
Location
Williamsburg, VA
I was gonna stay out of this at first but here's my two cents.

A guy that my son and I know hired him a couple of years ago knowing that he didn't know a thing about construction. Don't worry I'll teach him and then he'll do it my way and we'll be good. I called him and told him that my son is a very visual learner so he was going to have to show him how to do things. So right off the bat he starts with the I want you to do so and so, and do it this certain way. My son would do his best and then not wanting to mess it up would ask questions and would get the never mind I'll do it myself. He kept telling my son that he would have him watching over jobs in a year and would give him a big raise and on and on. Suddenly he starts with the well you don't even know how to read plans or do take offs or read a tape measure right so I'm not sure that this is going to work out and he finally let him go.

Now what part of "knows nothing about construction did he not understand."

MY point is this, if you want good help, there is nothing at all wrong with hiring a green guy and training him, but if you don't have the patience or you are very picky about how things get done, don't put some new guy through all of that grief.

If we want well trained trades people it's up to us to train them and help them along. On many a job I'll point out things that aren't necessarily code violations, things like crooked pipe or boxes and remind guys that it's the little things that make the difference. Bubble levels are cheap and it only takes a couple of extra seconds at finish to use one and make things look neat and tidy.
Good story. Me, I have to understand the "why" of something is done the way it is.

Back when I was doing commercial communications, my regular helper found other local work, leaving me very shorthanded. I hired a friend who, while intelligent, was completely green, never even having put on a tool pouch, laced up a pair of steel toe boots, or been on a construction site. I made it simple: follow my directions, and if you have any questions, ASK THEM. I probably fielded 50 of them a day the first month, but we did things right the first time. Sure, the first 4 wire phone jack took him 10 minutes, but it was right. By the 20th, he was doing them in 2, with no mistakes. He understood what he was doing, why it was done a certain way, and had pride in doing the job well.

Some employees will never give a hoot; they just do the 8 hours and go home. But the ones that are interested and want to learn, to do a good job, they are well worth taking the time to train. and, if you feel they are slow, dont just say "you need to be faster", SHOW THEM how to be faster. Show them correct first.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
I was gonna stay out of this at first but here's my two cents.

A guy that my son and I know hired him a couple of years ago knowing that he didn't know a thing about construction. Don't worry I'll teach him and then he'll do it my way and we'll be good. I called him and told him that my son is a very visual learner so he was going to have to show him how to do things. So right off the bat he starts with the I want you to do so and so, and do it this certain way. My son would do his best and then not wanting to mess it up would ask questions and would get the never mind I'll do it myself. He kept telling my son that he would have him watching over jobs in a year and would give him a big raise and on and on. Suddenly he starts with the well you don't even know how to read plans or do take offs or read a tape measure right so I'm not sure that this is going to work out and he finally let him go.

Now what part of "knows nothing about construction did he not understand."

MY point is this, if you want good help, there is nothing at all wrong with hiring a green guy and training him, but if you don't have the patience or you are very picky about how things get done, don't put some new guy through all of that grief.

If we want well trained trades people it's up to us to train them and help them along. On many a job I'll point out things that aren't necessarily code violations, things like crooked pipe or boxes and remind guys that it's the little things that make the difference. Bubble levels are cheap and it only takes a couple of extra seconds at finish to use one and make things look neat and tidy.
Too often owners/managers/lead men/foremen seem to think that the natural way for people to learn is by osmosis, or some psychic transference. It drives me nuts when I see it. Last job I had two top-notch techs working for me. They were told repeatedly that PART OF THEIR JOB was to train the newbies into something useful. All we got was complaints from them how the new guys were slow and unmotivated while the noobs complained they weren't being taught anything. Now part of that was our fault. Very few people are born teachers, and you have to train the trainer before you set him loose, but they just couldn't get their attitude in the right place.
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Too often owners/managers/lead men/foremen seem to think that the natural way for people to learn is by osmosis, or some psychic transference. It drives me nuts when I see it. Last job I had two top-notch techs working for me. They were told repeatedly that PART OF THEIR JOB was to train the newbies into something useful. All we got was complaints from them how the new guys were slow and unmotivated while the noobs complained they weren't being taught anything. Now part of that was our fault. Very few people are born teachers, and you have to train the trainer before you set him loose, but they just couldn't get their attitude in the right place.
Isn't this the truth. I have two guys that are good workers. Willing to work when or however long it takes, but to give them an apprentice is a massive waste of time and money. The newbies are bored and given little or no direction. Decided no temp help this summer. They can dig ditch just as well with no one watching
 
How people learn is a big part of the problem and I think it's changed over the last 40 years. Some want to understand the whole process before they start (I'm there), some need to see exactly what to do for each task, some will actually read the code on their own time :), etc. Often, the new help doesn't even know how they learn, either. And then we make it hard for them to ask questions ("I told you already, dude. You forget that quick?"). We've also made the first mistake hurt more, so new people are more reluctant to touch anything for fear they're do it wrong. (I see this whenever a "computer" is involved; try training an operator when they're afraid to touch the controls....)

None of that, of course, matters when the new help has the attention span of a squirrel.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
How people learn is a big part of the problem and I think it's changed over the last 40 years. Some want to understand the whole process before they start (I'm there), some need to see exactly what to do for each task, some will actually read the code on their own time :), etc. Often, the new help doesn't even know how they learn, either. And then we make it hard for them to ask questions ("I told you already, dude. You forget that quick?"). We've also made the first mistake hurt more, so new people are more reluctant to touch anything for fear they're do it wrong. (I see this whenever a "computer" is involved; try training an operator when they're afraid to touch the controls....)

None of that, of course, matters when the new help has the attention span of a squirrel.
Well there is that, you can teach the uneducated, but you can't fix stupid.:lol:
 

Fulthrotl

~~Please excuse the mess. Sig under construction~~
None of that, of course, matters when the new help has the attention span of a squirrel.


that's pretty harsh, and not considerate about the feelings
of the squirrels among our membership here.

:p

maybe squirrels are suffering from ADD..... they treat that
with ritalin.... maybe we just need squirrel food laced with
ritalin to straighten those squirrels right out....
 

mgookin

Senior Member
Location
Fort Myers, FL
None of that, of course, matters when the new help has the attention span of a squirrel.


that's pretty harsh, and not considerate about the feelings
of the squirrels among our membership here.

:p

maybe squirrels are suffering from ADD..... they treat that
with ritalin.... maybe we just need squirrel food laced with
ritalin to straighten those squirrels right out....
And the squirrel keeps telling you about his feelings all day long.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
And the squirrel keeps telling you about his feelings all day long.
I was in our office one day and overheard the head of the construction department trying to calm a helpers tears. He felt he was being picked on by his foreman, they had the nerve to criticize his work and make them redo it. The helper wanted the foreman punished for it.:roll:

I know the foreman, not a bad guy at all, he just expects a certain level of production and quality.

I have known the head of construction for about 20 years, he is old school like myself when that kind of BS would have been answered with STFU, get to work or hit the road. I see a lot of young people that for lack of a better word are just pussies.

I feel lucky as the apprentice assigned to me is everything I could hope for. He wants to learn, he listens, he works hard, he is not on his phone all the time and is reliable regardless of the odd hours we work. He seems like a rarity now.
 

ActionDave

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Durango, CO, 10 h 20 min without traffic from wing
Occupation
wire pulling grunt
.....I feel lucky as the apprentice assigned to me is everything I could hope for. He wants to learn, he listens, he works hard, he is not on his phone all the time and is reliable regardless of the odd hours we work. He seems like a rarity now.
There is a lot to be said for both sides of the street. I am so grateful for the crew I broke into the trades with because I got to see what a great boss and a great crew was like. Not everyone gets that chance. Not everyone shows up on time ready to work either.
 
Top