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Thread: Management by the lowest common denominator.

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    First - Great points on the original post. The organizational structure that you described, while it may be fictional, is generally representative of the larger firms. There in, lies a significant problem. There is an overwhelming need to flatten the structure out. Does a company with only 3k employees really need so many layers of management? In an ideal situation, you would have 8-10 direct reports for every management position. Anything more than that becomes too difficult to manage appropriately, and anything more becomes unneeded overhead.

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    I have not been privy to the process but my estimate is that the true costs compared to the expected benefit had not been fully thought out.
    Renting a facility to accomodate 75-80 locators used to cost me about $300 (plus the expense of coffee, juice, and donuts). It really isn't that expensive.

    Earlier on in the thread, the cost of bringing on a new associate was discussed. Not factoring in hourly pay, from experience I can say that it costs approximately $20k to bring someone in and outfit them with a truck and all of their equipment. The ROI for each new employee was approximately 18 months. With historically high attrition, it is easy to lose money on "warm bodies" that don't last. Also, for $18 per hour, it is very difficult to find hard working people that fit in this line of work. While there are many out there that love what they do, there are just as many that find ways of bucking the system.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    I was over stating two for the price of one. You know when they let go of a Seasoned locator, they never hire more then one body.... Correction, they hire 5 for one position, knowing that 2 will drop due to a failed UA, and two will "f" up in training to the point they don't want them out in the field, wich will leave one miserable soul to fill the position of the Seasoned locator. As for the overhead, when is the last time you used state of the art equipment in you locating duties? They will add equipment but they will have tons of older equipment still on hand. Matter of fact, I seen the security camera footage of that Stake Center Locating break in a week or so ago on the news the other night, and the crooks took an arm load of locating equipment that was laying out on the benches and tables. Which tells me that there was a surplus of equipment around. As for the trucks... like I said, out of those 5 hired, you will only need one truck, the impact is neglibable. On the occasion where they do hire more then one, how long will they stay around? That slot will still pay 9an hour, where if you still had the seasoned locator at 18, he would be expecting to go up and up and up........and that is what the company has the most issue with. You have DM's and other people getting paid 20+ an hour with a degree, and here is a locator without a degree getting real close to what he is making...... some educated people might take offense to this...... Me, I care less.

    mke

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by yahoo View Post
    with all these good ideas i'm reading about....why does management still so quickly get rid of their experienced locaters only to be replaced with newbe's........lots and lots of newbe's!!!!????????
    One other point. We are not in contact with a lot of these employees that are gone. There are here one day and gone the next often without the foreman even mentioning it. So it may be a matter of some number of these people leaving becasue they have had enough and went to work elsewhere.

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    <SNIP>
    As for the overhead, when is the last time you used state of the art equipment in you locating duties? They will add equipment but they will have tons of older equipment still on hand. Matter of fact, I seen the security camera footage of that Stake Center Locating break in a week or so ago on the news the other night, and the crooks took an arm load of locating equipment that was laying out on the benches and tables. Which tells me that there was a surplus of equipment around. <SNIP>

    mke
    The more locators you have on the street the more reserve locating units you have to have in the supply room to issue for breakdowns and routine calibrations. The older equipment you have the greater number of spares you have to keep in reserve for the same number of locators in the field. Double the number of locators in the field and you have to double the number of spares you have in reserve. For companies that do not have an onsite tech of their own who can repair and calibrate equipment they need an even larger number of spares.

    Much of what appears to be surplus is actually active reserve spares without which a locator would have to be out of the field until their individual unit were repaired. So you these locators or either paid to do nothing or they are sent home without pay and they do not stay for very long.

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by yahoo View Post
    with all these good ideas i'm reading about....why does management still so quickly get rid of their experienced locaters only to be replaced with newbe's........lots and lots of newbe's!!!!????????
    There are definite forces at work in this industry to pare costs down as low as humanly possible. Some of this is understandable, but a lot of it isn't. For instance, what type of tax break might a company be able to get for taking someone off the unemployment roles where you are? What type of break might they get for hiring a minority? For a long time I used to think that these outfits liked hiring veterans because they usually had at least some discipline, and could deal with the rough stuff well. I now know they love having employees who often can't collect unemployment compensation because their monthly military pension checks disqualify them. And the VA handles their medical as well. This is all about money, and it's THEIR money. Don't even try to argue the point.

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    You have alot of good points PL. I think this thread should be sent to every person in management from Sup. to CEO. I have always had the opinion that we are just used as the managements pawns to do thier bidding so they can increase their take home at our expense. Let me explain. The last company I worked for, (I won't mention Consolidated's name), (whops!). they had our sup. trained that when ever there was a damage even when it was not at fault, they would contrive the damage report to make it at fault to the locator. There was a feeling in our crew that if you could keep the locator on edge and under thumb, you could keep from giving him a decent review, hence less raise more bonuses for management. Sound harsh but when you bust your butt to be a good locator and keep getting cut off at the knees you start wising up quickly. I am of the opinion that those who are in air condition box's sitting in lazy boy office chairs, have either forgot or have no clue what the "producers " do on a day to day bases. Most of the "rules and regs." they have recently come up with may work with the newby but are counter productive to the experianced, (where in the heck is the spell check???), locator. The changes that have been made in the last couple of years have been to help the been counters. I have yet to see anything that is a produtive help to the locator. Also it may work for those who cover 36 square miles in a city setting but it flies in the face of a rural locator covering 7000 square miles. On the subject of equipment, I have had 9 or 12, I've lost count, receivers because they keep bringing me used up equipment. One of them was in the shop in Jan. 09 and died 2 months later. Management just doesn't get it. You get what you pay for. Buy junk equipment you continue to pay for it, buy good equipment you pay for it once. I enjoy painting dirt. It is a noble profession. I'm not tooting my own horn but I believe that I am one of many comrades that love this work, continue to strive to be more efficiant, more productive, and in turn a major asset to the company. All this GPS, micro management, distrust will come back to bite management right where it hurts. Pro-locators will get fed up with it and bail. Micro-management will see how the pro-locators manage to be efficiant and end up firing them due to, (back to the out of touch statement). I am one for lets get rid of the BS an get back to basics, ( "This is a foot ball" talk of years gone bye.) Equip us with reliable equipment, leave the good locators alone and micro the newbys to make them want to stay and be good locators. (Sorry about the blah, blah, blah. A company just seems to get worse the bigger it gets and that just burns me up!)

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by JRLocator View Post
    You have alot of good points PL. I think this thread should be sent to every person in management from Sup. to CEO. I have always had the opinion that we are just used as the managements pawns to do thier bidding so they can increase their take home at our expense. Let me explain. The last company I worked for, (I won't mention Consolidated's name), (whops!). they had our sup. trained that when ever there was a damage even when it was not at fault, they would contrive the damage report to make it at fault to the locator.
    <SNIP>

    Feel free to print out my posts and forward them. I suggest doing it anonymously as you would likely be regarded as a trouble maker by some.

    I can understand what you mean about Consolidated. It was assembled from several firms bought up by investors. They recruited old Utiliquest bosses to run it and you have read about Utiliquest here.

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    I was over stating two for the price of one. You know when they let go of a Seasoned locator, they never hire more then one body.... Correction, they hire 5 for one position, knowing that 2 will drop due to a failed UA, and two will "f" up in training to the point they don't want them out in the field, wich will leave one miserable soul to fill the position of the Seasoned locator. As for the overhead, when is the last time you used state of the art equipment in you locating duties? They will add equipment but they will have tons of older equipment still on hand. Matter of fact, I seen the security camera footage of that Stake Center Locating break in a week or so ago on the news the other night, and the crooks took an arm load of locating equipment that was laying out on the benches and tables. Which tells me that there was a surplus of equipment around. As for the trucks... like I said, out of those 5 hired, you will only need one truck, the impact is neglibable. On the occasion where they do hire more then one, how long will they stay around? That slot will still pay 9an hour, where if you still had the seasoned locator at 18, he would be expecting to go up and up and up........and that is what the company has the most issue with. You have DM's and other people getting paid 20+ an hour with a degree, and here is a locator without a degree getting real close to what he is making...... some educated people might take offense to this...... Me, I care less.

    mke
    True, they will have to run more than one through training to get one successful trainee, plus they have to pay them something for that time.

    Of that one successful trainee how long do they last? Is it 3 to 6 months? Up to a year?

    Sill this one locator will not do he level of production as the one being paid twice as much that he “replaced”. So the truth is a new trainee cannot really replace the highly productive experienced locator. So now you have to either pay the new locator overtime to do the same number of tickets done on straight time or hire two locators for every higher paid one you let go. So in the scenario you put forth they would have to put 10 people into training to get the replacement for the one experienced locator they let go. Still the time and a half for the extra hours would come up less than the 40 hours straight time at twice the rate until you figure that they will work no faster on overtime than straight time. So you are paying 1 ˝ times the pay but still working at the same lower production rate. It is these experienced employees they wanted to go come in on the weekends and clean up the areas of the locators that cannot work at their level of productivity.

    The experienced locator is still the cash cow of this industry.

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post

    <SNIP>
    You have DM's and other people getting paid 20+ an hour with a degree, and here is a locator without a degree getting real close to what he is making...... some educated people might take offense to this...... Me, I care less.

    mke
    There is always a certain level if snobbery between those with college educations and those that do not.

    Some locate firms have a “management advancement program” where they hire college grads. These people come in and even get basic locator training. The go out and mark for maybe a month and then are assigned office duties. Eventually they can rise up to actually be the supervisor of the locators and foremen. They even think they are locators when their job never depended on their ability to locate and never had to meet the standards imposed on the locators.

    Some managers sit down an arbitrarily decide how much an employee should be paid and none of it is based on the real demands. They may decide that $10 an hour is a fair wage without ever understanding it is not their decision to make, the employee always makes that decision. If $10 an hour is not enough for housing, food clothing, transportation and all the other costs of living for that area they are not going to get quality employees. The quality ones they do get are only there until they can find another job.

    We also have degree people in jobs that do not really need degrees regardless of what requirements the upper management has placed on hiring for these positions. It would be better to promote from within the ranks and then get certification, or encourage getting certification while in exempt position, on just the subjects needed rather than a general degree.

    I have attended some college classes but never obtained a degree. What I observed is that most college classes teach the students to give test answers and essays that their instructors want hear, most of whom want to hear what their college instructors told them they wanted to hear.

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by MOJO View Post
    First - Great points on the original post. The organizational structure that you described, while it may be fictional, is generally representative of the larger firms. There in, lies a significant problem. There is an overwhelming need to flatten the structure out. Does a company with only 3k employees really need so many layers of management? In an ideal situation, you would have 8-10 direct reports for every management position. Anything more than that becomes too difficult to manage appropriately, and anything more becomes unneeded overhead.
    <SNIP>
    You got it bang on about overstaffed management positions, too many positions that do not produce income.

    I think this has a lot to do with human nature, people want to feel important plus do things they feel will secure their position.

    Among mangers what is considered evidence of importance is the number of people under their direction. The people working under them that that are given the most values are not non exempt but other mangers, the exempt employees. The more managers they manage the more important they must be. This also gives them bigger budgets and the more money they manage the more important they must be. So managers tend to “grow” their division by creating new managerial positions that are under their direction. This is easily done because the budget and staffing requirements are decided at this level.

    It ends up in a contest of mine is bigger than yours.

  11. #26
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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by MOJO View Post

    <SNIP>
    Earlier on in the thread, the cost of bringing on a new associate was discussed. Not factoring in hourly pay, from experience I can say that it costs approximately $20k to bring someone in and outfit them with a truck and all of their equipment. The ROI for each new employee was approximately 18 months. With historically high attrition, it is easy to lose money on "warm bodies" that don't last. Also, for $18 per hour, it is very difficult to find hard working people that fit in this line of work. While there are many out there that love what they do, there are just as many that find ways of bucking the system.
    So each new locator that you were able to put into the field it was 18 months before they began to make a profit. While I have not had hard figures I was guessing about a year at least.

    $18 and hour has different values in different parts of the county. When I visited St. Petersburg a few months ago I found a studio or one bedroom apartment could be had for $450 to $500 a month in still a reasonably decent area. Where I live now the lowest you can find is about $600 to $750 in a house which has had basement space carved into a one bedroom apartment. These are relatively rare units to find. For an actual apartment in the higher crime areas pay maybe around $850. A one bedroom apartment in a better neighborhood is around $1,000 a month. A nice neighborhood is really going to cost you.

    In Florida there is no state income tax to be withheld from your pay, in Maryland you pay 6 1/4% of your pay and there is an additional county tax of around 1 to 1 ˝ %.

    So the difficulty you find in getting hard working people for $18, or any amount, depends on where you are. In my area you are not getting anybody wanting to work hard for $9 an hour or take the job for long.

    In my area $18 gets you by but not far. If you are married the spouse works and if not you live with the in-laws. If single you live in a shared apartment or rent a room in someone’s home.

    Those replacements hired at $9 consider that start pay and if they do not see significant raises in the future they are not going to stay. They also know what those people they replaced were paid and expect to one day be able to get that money.

    New hires come in expecting a training pay, a field pay and future pay increases, they are even told in the interview this will happen. I know of one shop that lsot about a dozen new hires in a week when the promised pay raises were not given.

    While people making $19 an hour will always want more they are more likely to stay if they do not get it than those making $9, $12 or $15 an hour.

    The other factor is very basic, if the employee believes that they are underpaid for their labor they will do work at the rate they think is worth the pay they are given. $18 and hour work cannot be had for $9.

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    As a regional manager is reputed to have said off the cuff to a locator, "we can get trained monkeys to do your job".

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    Default Re: Management by the lowest common denominator.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie Green View Post
    As a regional manager is reputed to have said off the cuff to a locator, "we can get trained monkeys to do your job".
    I've heard this before. Usually, it comes from middle-management. And typically, it is from the guy/gal that has a BS but no experience in the field. He/She rides with a sup for a day and all of a sudden they know exactly what it takes to do the job. This mentality could go a long way to explaining the high attrition in the industry.

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