Editor's Blog

Moonlighting...and I'm not talking about the Moon: Part 2

September 19, 2010

Last week, I wrote about a contractor who was having a problem with a Tech who is Moonlighting - a Tech with his own side business. And worse yet the Tech was doing side work at this contractor’s customers’ homes.  

Here’s the rest of the correspondence to this contractor and some good advice for you to follow as well:  

From the Contractor: “What is your advice on how to approach the Tech on his side work at my customer’s home? Should I question him if he has been doing any side work for our other customers and see what his answer is and see if he comes clean? Or should I just go ahead confront him and tell him I saw the check on the front seat of his vehicle?”  

My response: “I think you’ve probably had a gut feeling and known for awhile what he’s been doing this but were afraid to confront him. That’s because a lot of contractors are afraid they have to fire them and find someone new. That said, I don’t know that he’ll come clean now. But lie, cheat or steal and you violate the basic tenant of a positive working relationship between owner and boss no matter what. You have the check or hopefully a copy of it and you are welcome to ask before you act. But I’d be prepared to let him go because he can promise to change his ways, but if he knew the policy he stepped over the line.”  

The contractor’s response: “Yes, I already knew I needed to start looking for another tech for awhile. What advice do you have on hiring new Techs and avoiding this situation in the future?”  

My response: “Hire one or two young apprentices and train them right and they’ll be better employees than this Tech probably ever was. This will be especially true if you get out there and help and encourage them. Also, it builds loyalty to you and your company when you do this vs. loyalty to your Tech if the customer begins to see you.  

You still need your policies and procedures in writing to cover things like not permitting side work [or at least not permitting it at your customers’ homes] which is another reason the manuals are so helpful. But if you had them, the training of new hires would be so much easier. Here’s the good news…you can still start by creating bulleted job descriptions going forward for the work you do if you are not in a position to create full blown manuals. Just make sure the policies like side work are covered.  

The other thing you want to get in place are the Steps of Discipline. These are the steps you take with each and every staff member based on objective evidence so you can be proactive and in a position to know how to proceed when you catch someone doing something wrong. You’ll be better able to coach them. Progressive discipline is great but it’s more for things like not showing up on time or bad paperwork and not a terrible offense of stealing your customers…that’s just my opinion.”

To you, the readers

If you want to get serious about Steps of Discipline at your company so you have a progressive discipline mechanism in place, e-mail me at al@appleseedbusiness.com and I’ll send you a simple one page outline template for this critical steps that all my customers use and find super powerful.


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