Start by asking yourself “does my company have a culture where stealing time is acceptable?” I believe this is the root of the problem. I believe that most people are good people, most people want to be productive and don’t want to waste their time. If you have the attitude that you just have thieves and you have to get rid of them then you will not alleviate the problem.
However, it’s human nature that when you come into a situation, new or old, that you look for the lowest standard and that becomes your highest standard. This is not good or bad, this just is and you must learn this about yourself and your employees.
For myself, to show you how I lower my standards I will use the example of driving. I will drive faster than the speed limit but there are some areas where I make sure I do the speed limit. That’s because I know that there is a police officer that likes to sit in certain areas. In some towns that I travel through regularly I know where my chances of getting a speeding ticket are elevated, so I pay attention there. My standards for that area are that I don’t want a ticket. Areas where I know there aren’t any police officers, I go faster. Is this right or wrong? It’s just the way it is. And I need to see that about myself and know that my employees are the same way.
The first thing I did to correct this issue was to hold employees accountable. We bid our work by man hours so they get a work order that tells them how many hours they have to complete a job. We have a meeting every Monday morning with the sales team and the foremen and review what they completed last week and what they have scheduled for the coming week. When a job took more time than it was supposed to, they need to explain why.
We also put GPS devices in all our trucks. This lets us know if someone is speeding, where the truck is or where it has been. Employees need to be accountable for the time they used. And it doesn’t always mean they were being unproductive on purpose. The answer may be as simple as there was an accident and they were stuck on the highway and just couldn’t get off.
Time at the shop is tracked differently from on-the-job time. Shop time is figured in as overhead and not charged to a particular job.
We also went drug free in our company. You have to rid yourselves of the chronic drinkers and drug users because it doesn’t’ support a culture of productivity. We’ve also tied our pay scale and bonuses to productivity, not just time served with the company although that also is a factor. Of course, you won’t earn time with the company if you aren’t productive.
Mark Holencik is the owner of Holencik Exteriors, Holencik Gutters and Holencik Insulation. See his full bio here.