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How to keep imposters off your jobsite


This article appeared in our newsletter The Construction Labor Weekly.

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Today we’re going to talk about how to get imposters off your jobsite. Doing this will lead to better productivity, better morale, and better projects.

Imposters are people who can’t do the job they’re being paid for.

There are three types of imposters to be on the lookout for: Shifty, Dopey, and Flimsy

These three imposters take different forms and have different tactics. The result is the same: your project is at risk.

Unfortunately figuring out who these people is not easy. Worse than that, failing to identify Shifty, Dopey and Flimsy can lead to big problems.

That’s why identifying imposters is so important.

It’s a problem that’s best handled early and often.

The good news is that there are things you can do to find the imposters.


Imposter #1 – Shifty – He’s looking for that pay day

Shifty is the imposter who claims to be something he’s not. He’s looking to trick anybody who’s willing to hand out a higher pay rate.

Shifty typically ends up in a position he shouldn’t be in.

Shifty is often paid a rate that he shouldn’t get.

Maybe they claim to be a journeyman.

Maybe they even show up with certifications (which they may or may not have gotten honestly).

Regardless of how they got on your jobsite, they’re in an unearned position.


Imposter #2 – Dopey – He doesn’t know what he can’t do

Dopey is more prevalent that you’d think.

Some job sites are chalk full of Dopeys.

Dopey is an imposter due to an epic dose of cluelessness. He’s not necessarily out to deceive, but he has and inflated idea on his skill set.

Mirror weld? Yep, Dopey (thinks he) can do that.

Operate any crane in your fleet? Dopey (imagines that he) does that, too.

Only he can’t do any of it.

Dopey may genuinely think he’s a welder or a journeyman electrician. He may even have a resume or experience list to back this claim up.

But Dopey lives in a world of his own creation.

And unfortunately, that world isn’t going to help your projects get built.


Imposter #3 – Flimsy – He has no business running your business

Flimsy is the worst.

This imposter can be a major problem because Flimsy is usually a supervisor.

Worse yet, Flimsy needs help to get his position so he’s well connected too.

Flimsy has a job that he isn’t qualified to. This job is typically a supervisor administrative position.

Yet there he is – Dopey-ing his way around your jobsite and wrecking things as he goes.

The main way Dopey gets his job is through the “buddy system.” Maybe he’s related to a decision maker or maybe they’re just friends. Either way, Dopey uses his connections to get a title, a pay rate and power he should never get.


What to do about imposters on your jobsites

The best strategy is keeping Shifty, Dopey and Flimsy off your jobsites altogether. Find them before you hire them.

No matter what, imposters find their way onto most every job site.

Here are strategies that can help you identify them.

  • Identify the newbies. These are people who haven’t worked for you before. They’re a prime group for imposters. Identify them. Some companies use hardhat stickers, others use different hardhat colors. Others keep a list. This doesn’t mean people with lots of experience get an exemption! If the employee is new to your company, you need to know who they are.

  • Assign work with a purpose. Intentionally assign job tasks that allow you to evaluate them. This is a skills assessment without calling it one. Can the properly use a grinder? Do they know how to put on fall protection?

  • Follow up. Check in on the newbies. Watch them. Observe how they’re working.

  • Conduct surveys. Anonymous surveys are a great way to identify if Flimsy is on your site. Ask questions about concerns that people have with their supervision. A good question is a true or false question about supervisors deserve their positions based on their skillset.

  • Measure turnover. In situation where a supervisor is over their head, the crew will not want to stick around. They’ll leave. Watch for specific crews that have high turnover and that can lead you to the culprit.

Now you know where the imposters are!