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Thread: Ideas for improvement

  1. #31
    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by USIC1 View Post
    All kidding aside my suggestion is of more tag teaming (2 locators working together) more frequently if not permanently in alot of squirrely areas where hook up points are distant, long jobs, congested areas...

    As much as I m atypical antisocial type it does boost morale to work with a fellow locator on occasion...

    I guess management mentality is not only that it may lose money but they dont want to fry 2 at a time on a damage...

    I have always been more productive tag teaming jobs then not seeing the light working independently on a tough project or unfamiliar area it just seems good to have 2 personnel working to figure the chaos out...

    A heavily project inundated area should have a steady tag team approach...

    Part of the day split lot tickets other part of day work together to maintain productivity ...
    I am going to ask out of ignorance, can you work two RD transmitters on the same frequency close to each other? Most Metrotech users know you can't run an 810 or 850 closer than 2,500 feet or so to another 810 or 850. They seemed to have fixed the problem with their new 9800 series. I have had two 9800 transmitters on the same frequency on two parralelling lines approximately 3 feet apart and everything seems to work fine. Is this possible with the RD locators? We all know most locators have a good "General Purpose" frequency that seems to cover most locates. I have been on jobsites with an 810 and an 850 together and it seems like there is a great deal of stand around time while waiting for the other guy to finish up with the other frequency. This may not be an issue at all anymore, but it was what came to mind while reading USIC's post.
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  2. #32
    Senior Member USIC1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Military personnel comparisons arent ballpark...

    Reasoning- Young naive and easily impressionable workforce...Scare tactics are effectiviely implemented to create motivation and a little patriotism to boot rounds out team work effort...$ is overlooked and replaced by a good future reference or further education to strengthen incentives...

    Most of these staffers also know they are moving on to bigger and greater accomplishments and stomach the riff raff knowing there moving on...

    That is what motivates military personnel...

    A locator is for the most part beyond the 10 to 20 % of taking pride in protecting vital facilities has know other incentives work wise...

    Incentives that drive in this trade are brought on by $$$...

    The hourly structure should be accompanied by a merit system that would creat motivation and incentive...

    A local phone contractor in the area i work in enhances there employees to do more with a secondary % pay for various amounts of production...This may be hard to define in locating but I think anyone producing so many damage free bill-ables should get some form of LEGITIMATE $...The hourly rate level could be kept in check if there was a greater ability to offset wages with effort and hard work...Top locators should be at least capable of doing 50k a year for our responsibilities and I m not talking wearing a miners hat either...

    Hours worked should play a backseat to getting compensated for putting out and accomplishing the companys mission while reaching our personal goals $...

    I could go on more but I need a break...My 2 fingers are tired and need a rest like just picking my nose or scratching my butt for awhile...

    This program if established properly could attract quality people MAYBE???


  3. #33
    Senior Member underground quester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by PowerSweep View Post
    U.Q. -- Let me see if this fits into part of your thoughts and ideas.

    "Collective Innovation Teams" AKA - CIT

    A CIT would be formed each time there is a "problem" at any level within the locate company. The CIT would be comprised of at least one member from each "department". The CIT would be presented with the "problem" and together, they determine the root cause and offer possible solutions to the problem. The root cause & solution is presented to the department head that asked for the CIT to be formed.
    In order for a CIT to be successful, individuals at the lowest level of each department must be involved.

    Are we on the right track with this?
    Yes, exactly. With one exception. Adhoc committees do work well in some areas. However, for continuous and lasting improvements there must be a mix of permanent and adhoc CIT to keep the improvements moving forward. i have always known these as Quality Action Teams...semantics.

    I also believe everyone in the company should be on teams for the experience and for the huge "AH HA" moment that occurs when results they recommended come to fruition.

    I am still amazed at some of the ideas people on various committees I was peripherally involved with saved the company millions. And, as you stated these were rank and file no managers.

    The team MUST also be empowered to implement the solutions (with necessary help from management) otherwise often it is just a wasted exercise. That will be a learning curve for any manager who is a control freak.

    One large company I worked for fired all 6 of their V.P. because they (the V.P.s) believed the concept was just another fad.

    On a lighter note, my role as a senior analyst with a large rail carrier became redundant when we got our claims dollars down below our "raison d'etre"
    (reason for being). So they laid us off. Me and my big mouth!!!

    On another lighter moment: quite frequently ideas that came up from the floor were tougher than some managers dared to think about. But because it came from the bottom up, everyone (well almost everyone) supported the ideas and there was little bitching. Many managers were seen silently chuckling!!!

    Also, we the forum have a member GWJ CAS he has many great ideas also. Be sure to get some feedback from him as well.
    Success is a journey, not a destination...

  4. #34
    Senior Member sprayandpray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Well I guess I will wade into this. SM&P has a Performance Evaluation each year for it's Supervisors. We fill it out, it goes to some outside firm, and the results evidently are always positive because nothing ever changes! Every locator I talk to about this advises they were negative in their evaluations, so all of you locators up North must be praising your Supervisors to High Heaven to off-set the negative comments. My point - all this 'brainstorming' is usually just window dressing meant to give the locator a false feeling of meaningful contribution. If the company really wanted our opinions or suggestions, they would beat them out of us.

    To defend my position, all I have to do is remind everyone that the staffing problems appear every year, the problem with contractors and the one-call systems remain year after year, the turnover rate very seldom improves and our Bone-us has continued to shrink and has evidently disappeared.

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  5. #35
    Member PowerSweep's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by sprayandpray View Post
    Well I guess I will wade into this. SM&P has a Performance Evaluation each year for it's Supervisors. We fill it out, it goes to some outside firm, and the results evidently are always positive because nothing ever changes! Every locator I talk to about this advises they were negative in their evaluations, so all of you locators up North must be praising your Supervisors to High Heaven to off-set the negative comments. My point - all this 'brainstorming' is usually just window dressing meant to give the locator a false feeling of meaningful contribution. If the company really wanted our opinions or suggestions, they would beat them out of us.

    To defend my position, all I have to do is remind everyone that the staffing problems appear every year, the problem with contractors and the one-call systems remain year after year, the turnover rate very seldom improves and our Bone-us has continued to shrink and has evidently disappeared.

    Happy 4th of July ya'll
    Once again, you offer problems, but no solutions.
    This thread is "Ideas for improvement"
    How do we fix the staffing problem? I can say this much... we hired A LOT of people in Illinois this year, but we lost A LOT of people.
    Give us ideas on how to fix that problem.... if we can't come up with ways to fix it, how do we expect those above us to do it? We are the ones out here everyday, you would think we would have a ton of ideas, but I just keep seeing everyone bitching about the problems without offering solutions.

    Second, those evaluations are not "Brainstorming teams" those are just feedback surveys to indicate opportunities for improvement. A supervisor must take it upon themselves to address his/her weaknesses as indicated by the survey. If you look at ideas that were posted before you, you might find an idea on how to improve the evaluation process.

    I see you have a problem with the bonus (bone-us) program, but once again.... no ideas for improvement. Change doesn't come by bitching alone. Change comes by providing the necessary people with a direction other than the status quo.

    When you bitch and expect change, it is like assuming that managers above you have thought of every idea & just haven't done anything yet. When you offer viable ideas, you are providing alternatives to the status quo that may not have been thought of previously. After you have offered ideas and nothing changes, you can then ask why we have not tried these ideas & you can expect that a reply is given to you.

  6. #36
    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    this problem solving issue is getting deep............i think powersweep...........you have heard from some of the best minds.......back to the drawing board....

  7. #37
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    [QUOTE=sprayandpray;3669]Well I guess I will wade into this. SM&P has a Performance Evaluation each year for it's Supervisors. We fill it out, it goes to some outside firm, and the results evidently are always positive because nothing ever changes! Every locator I talk to about this advises they were negative in their evaluations, so all of you locators up North must be praising your Supervisors to High Heaven to off-set the negative comments. My point - all this 'brainstorming' is usually just window dressing meant to give the locator a false feeling of meaningful contribution. If the company really wanted our opinions or suggestions, they would beat them out of us.

    To defend my position, all I have to do is remind everyone that the staffing problems appear every year, the problem with contractors and the one-call systems remain year after year, the turnover rate very seldom improves and our Bone-us has continued to shrink and has evidently disappeared.

    Hey we have had those same Evaluation up here in Chicagoland I want to say for the last three or four years. The first year there gave some bulls..t results which none of us could understand and then after that we never saw any feed back after that. We have been very negitive on ours. It is more money pour down the drain.

  8. #38
    Senior Member USIC1's Avatar
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    Wink Re: Ideas for improvement

    I would rather have the Utility companys take back the locating aspect of being responsible for there own facilities...

    HOW BOUT THAT FOR A POSITIVE???!!!

    That would solve a lot of OUR(the locators issues)...

    Then we would have more respect, better compensation, greater ability to advance after paying dues of locating if so choosing, more job security, better staffing with lower turnover etc etc etc...

    No more middleman private make a buc investors we all know from history the bottom line from the tapes-ongoing low balling of compensation and benefits,disgruntled employees, high turnover of personnel, and lawsuits...

    Seems a no brainer where the change needs to start... These ~5 yr pump and dump schemes have proven there meddle and come and go as fast as the locators...

    Last edited by USIC1; July 4th, 2008 at 09:43 PM.

  9. #39
    Senior Member shovelhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by USIC1 View Post
    I would rather have the Utility companys take back the locating aspect of being responsible for there own facilities...

    HOW BOUT THAT FOR A POSITIVE???!!!

    That would solve a lot of OUR(the locators issues)...

    Then we would have more respect, better compensation, greater ability to advance after paying dues of locating if so choosing, more job security, better staffing with lower turnover etc etc etc...

    No more middleman private make a buc investors we all know from history the bottom line from the tapes-ongoing low balling of compensation and benefits,disgruntled employees, high turnover of personnel, and lawsuits...

    Seems a no brainer where the change needs to start... These ~5 yr pump and dump schemes have proven there meddle and come and go as fast as the locators...

    Yeah, there are days when it become's crystal clear why the facility owners don't want to deal with this stuff anymore. But that's why WE are here!

    The basic problem as I see it is this:

    The business model. That's right folks. It isn't the complaining locator after all. It's the folks who decide how this game is rolled out, modified, restructured, and ultimately, collapses under the weight of one too many shakeups and/or bad business moves.

    Now we have ( allegedly..), some REAL businessmen and women at the helm.

    So my suggestion for improvement is this:

    Stop using the "military" business model.

    Now don't get me wrong here. I have nothing but respect for the men and women who have sacrificed their life, limb, personal freedom, and the stresses of military life on their families. This isn't about military men and women. It's about the desire of contract locating companies to "co- opt" some of the attitudes, structure, and methods of the military as a means to an end. It's no accident that SM&P has almost always bumped any candidate with military experience to the head of the line, and has aggresively tried to hire ex - military candidates.

    Now in the days of paper tickets doled out in the morning to the crew, I can understand the "military" model. You have to have heavy accountability and discipline to get the tickets done, because you didn't know what the locators did all day unless you followed them around!

    But now, you are in "real" time. You start a ticket? You better be "at" that ticket! And you better do that ticket fast! You get a call out on the other side of town? Tough! You better do that ticket, and then get back to work! And stay out until ALL of your tickets are done!

    There are no more "low profile tickets to "pad" your numbers and make you look good anymore! As a matter of fact, two of our recently appointed supervisors became supervisors after complaining about the recent changes affecting the way we do business in the field. And they both said the same thing. It is virtually impossible to do this job the way they want us to anymore.

    Of course, now they demand ( daily, sometimes hourly..) that we do just that. And they don't recall saying any of the above...

    You used to ( until very recently that is), have flexilbility with your workday. You could, fudge, sandbag, time stretch, post date, pre date, etc. etc.

    Those days are over.

    But the pressure is not.

    I have never been in the military. And again, I have nothing but respect for those who do.

    But the barking of orders, hardball handling of locators, and fearmongering aren't helping anything here.

    The upper management of USIC needs to make a break from the past in many ways to become, as they say, the worlds "premier" locating company.

    Start with acknowledging the changes in the locators regimen. And implement an incentive program that is "fair and equitable for all"

    Even for the drill seargents...

  10. #40
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    So, what are some ideas for this incentive program? We have all read several times that a new one needs to be created, but no guidance for what it should be. Let's throw some ideas out there.

    Also, I would like to elaborate on how things are different. I know it was an unwritten rule back in 2005 that locators pretty much did not go to CATV drop inst. tickets. What other things have been added to locators that make the numbers of the past impossible to reach in the year 2008 and beyond?
    We need everyone to understand that what was once easy to achieve now takes a perfect day to duplicate. We need to spell out what the obsticles are. If we can't provide valid reasons, other than just saying we can't do it.... then it is just a lack of motivation.

  11. #41
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    "On another lighter moment: quite frequently ideas that came up from the floor were tougher than some managers dared to think about. But because it came from the bottom up, everyone (well almost everyone) supported the ideas and there was little bitching. Many managers were seen silently chuckling!!! "

    I haver had the same experiance with this. The guys on the floor were always coming up with tougher policies than the managers. When they did, the rest of the "floor" bought into it because it came from their peers. Not to mention, if the guys on the floor said it could be done, then it should be possible. I have always said that managers need to give their people the chance to set policy....they might find themselves pleasantly surprised.

  12. #42
    Senior Member big boots mcghee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by PowerSweep View Post
    What other things have been added to locators that make the numbers of the past impossible to reach in the year 2008 and beyond?
    How about a fourth utility in the middle of a dig season? Or a company merger/buyout also in the middle of a dig season? But I won't harp on that, I want to be a little productive with some sort of ideas, so:

    Management used to "look the other way" when it came to low profile tickets and didn't care how they disappeared as long as there were no damages....and the numbers looked good. But that was then. Now we're in 2008 and being asked to go to each and every ticket (and rightfully so, our customers pay us to do it) and treat each ticket the same regardless of the work being done and for who. So basically those thousands of tickets that used to just disappear now need to be responded to AND located correctly AND located the right way. So a cable drop that used to take a minute or two now takes up to 15 minutes or more to do the right way, and the same with any other low profile ticket. As early as the beginning of this dig season I heard of people in management tell locators to make sure to respond to all of their low profile tickets and at the very least "just put some paint on the ground", and even then if we didn't do that then to make sure to leave a clear flag for the gas company since they perform audits. If we are not going to do a job properly is there a point in even going to it? So, couple together the fact that we are now responding to many more tickets that we used to with the added workload a new utility brings and there's part of the answer of why our employers need to temper their expectations with what they want out of each locator and crew. The only reason numbers looked as good as they did back in the day was because management accepted the fact that shortcuts were being taken and looked the other way. Nowadays those same people pretend to "toe the comany line" and preach like we should have been doing things the right way all along.
    My boots may be red but I'm no clown.

  13. #43
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    I have had a lot of private messages on this one.

    One of the ideas I would have to say would help after reading these messages is that with this transition team, we need people at all levels and departments. Don't just use senior managers. Have people from the field to help make decisions that work for the field.

  14. #44
    Senior Member LadyLeatherneck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Another thing I think management is missing is the fact that there are utilities being burried in the ground every day. That means that there are more and more utilities on each job to locate! Technology has increased and so have the cables and fibers to bring those technologies to the public and private industries. That also means there are more lines to be located on every job. When your supervisor says, "It shouldn't take you long.", it seams he's the one living in the paper ticket years. If you pull up on a job that "shouldn't take you long", and there are 10 fibers, 8 coppers, and CATV you have to mark for 1300 feet in four different directions, you tell me, SHOULD IT TAKE YOU LONG?

    I also agree with Shovelhead that "barking orders, hardball handling of locators, and fearmongering aren't helping here." Grown men and women that have been in this business a long time and have families to support, do not need some ill tempered supervisor getting by with that kind of behavior over and over and over again. You say to get a group together to combat this situation, well you tell me how. Everyone is trying to keep their jobs at least long enough to find something else. They are not going to take a chance like that. And in this industry, our field is so specialized that the experience we have here does not covey to other industries, nor does it convey well to other types of companies in our industry. The "Power that Be" need to understand that as well.

    Well guys, I think that IF the 'POWERS THAT BE' are listening to us right now and monitoring the vine, we should use this as an opportunity and speak up. I think we should head Powersweep's advice and give him what he's asking for. He wants less negative and more positive feedback. LET'S GIVE IT TO HIM! He wants solutions instead of complaints alone, LET'S GIVE HIM SOME! But, Powersweep, you have to take the bad with the good. And realize we are passionate about our jobs, THEY KEEP OUR FAMILIES ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. #45
    Senior Member shovelhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by big boots mcghee View Post
    How about a fourth utility in the middle of a dig season? Or a company merger/buyout also in the middle of a dig season? But I won't harp on that, I want to be a little productive with some sort of ideas, so:

    Management used to "look the other way" when it came to low profile tickets and didn't care how they disappeared as long as there were no damages....and the numbers looked good. But that was then. Now we're in 2008 and being asked to go to each and every ticket (and rightfully so, our customers pay us to do it) and treat each ticket the same regardless of the work being done and for who. So basically those thousands of tickets that used to just disappear now need to be responded to AND located correctly AND located the right way. So a cable drop that used to take a minute or two now takes up to 15 minutes or more to do the right way, and the same with any other low profile ticket. As early as the beginning of this dig season I heard of people in management tell locators to make sure to respond to all of their low profile tickets and at the very least "just put some paint on the ground", and even then if we didn't do that then to make sure to leave a clear flag for the gas company since they perform audits. If we are not going to do a job properly is there a point in even going to it? So, couple together the fact that we are now responding to many more tickets that we used to with the added workload a new utility brings and there's part of the answer of why our employers need to temper their expectations with what they want out of each locator and crew. The only reason numbers looked as good as they did back in the day was because management accepted the fact that shortcuts were being taken and looked the other way. Nowadays those same people pretend to "toe the comany line" and preach like we should have been doing things the right way all along.
    Agreed. The amount of tickets we were doing somedays would knock your socks off. We had a system, as I'm sure many of the rest of you had, and that system is not there anymore.

    Add to that, increased traffic in this area.

    Add to that more f*&*$d up tickets than years past courtesy of the new hires in our one call center.

    Add to that increasingly belligerent contractors this season. Why so belligerent you ask? Because they are tired of dealing with both of these companies. Tired of dealing with kids who won't work with them. We all hear ( and complain about..), the idiot contractors. And we know they are there. They come back every year, don't they? These guys are tired of trying to work with locators that show for a 2nd. request, throw paint down for 100 feet, and run away, never to complete the project. I see this every week. I respond to these second requests all the time. Whether this is just lazy people, or the pressures a locator has trying to cover too much, I'm not certain.

    Add to that more prints, meet sheets, photos to upload, download, e - mails to read and respond to, damages to investigate, contractor to talk to , drop off some supplies to this guy, can you get your guy from Comcast over to, we're having trouble with this homeowner, do you know who did this locate??
    etc.....

    We joke all the time around here about ride alongs. The joke usually refers to wanting a secretary to ride along and do all the "non-locate" stuff this company has dumped on us in the past six years........

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