Larry Schermick
Schermick Construction
Wernersville, Pa.
Big50 2003

We have certain standard jobsite procedures, but we encourage our staff to find better and timesaving ways. Once they determine a better solution, we examine it and get input from all our staff to see if they agree. In some cases, they'll even improve upon the original idea. We then implement the new suggestion into our policy. It follows the old adage that two (or more) minds are better than one.

Doug Porter
Woodstock Building Associates
East Woodstock, Conn.
Big50 2004

I start and end each staff meeting by asking for any comments or questions. Each week, I have meetings with production staff and design/ estimating staff. On the first Wednesday of every month, I meet with my field staff. Any new policy, regardless of origin, is reviewed. Once a policy is reviewed, revisions are made and then implemented. We review a policy again after 30- and 90-day periods.

Our vacation policy was staff-initiated. We have 28 people, so every week it seems like someone is off. The office manager was having a hard time keeping track. She developed a form. Once the supervisor signs off, the payroll clerk verifies how much vacation time the employee has available. With this information added to the form, it comes for my signature. Once I sign off, I mark the vacation on the overall scheduling calendar. When I prepare weekly schedules, I note who's on vacation. The managers receive a copy, and a copy is posted on the company bulletin board. The system is working well.

Susan C. Pierce, AIA
Commonwealth Home Remodelers
Vienna, Va.
Big50 1993

It comes naturally to our employees to initiate policies. We've made a practice of hiring intelligent, educated, and motivated people. Four members of the office staff already have enjoyed long, successful careers in other fields. The employees who have not had that kind of experience are now being exposed to it and are modeling their behavior. We have formal and informal brainstorming sessions whenever we discover something isn't working as well as it could. I always ask one of the staff to type the new information into the appropriate checklist. These checklists are referenced and used regularly.

Raymond J. Wiese, CR, CKD, CBD
The Wiese Co.
Natick, Mass.
Big50 2004

This is an ongoing part of staff management that requires creativity. We recently held a competition with sawhorses. Everyone was asked to construct a set of horses as if it were any company project. One lead purchased a set for $33. Five others constructed sets that cost between $50 and $140. This generated “what does management want” thinking. We awarded first- and second-place prizes and have received so many out-of-the-sawhorse-box ideas, ranging from standardization to use of subs, from this contest. We will use the competition for some time to refer to how things are related with the way we use resources, and why the lead who purchased a horse was looking in another direction to obtain a better result.

Matt Plaskoff
Plaskoff Construction
Tarzana, Calif.
Big50 1998

We have a couple of programs that promote staff initiative, but it starts with the owner being open to feedback. At each monthly employee get-together, I reiterate that my door is open and that I reward input. We have an intranet site where employees can post their issues, thoughts, or ideas, either anonymously or not.

We have a “Caught Doing Something Right” program, where employees who do outstanding things are rewarded with cards from other employees. We vote as a company for the overall monthly superstar and reward that employee with a dinner. If there is an initiative brought by employees, I meet with them, explain how to do a cost/benefit analysis, and ask them to bring a report. If it makes sense, we do it.