From Rookies to Veterans: Keep the Experience Level of Employees in Mind

By Richard Voreis

As I travel around North America and speak to glass and glazing subcontractors, the most common serious problem facing them is the lack of skilled and experienced employees. I hear this from fabricators in the shop, glaziers in the field and personnel such as estimators, project managers, etc. At least nine out of ten companies in the glass and glazing industry cite this as their biggest challenge this decade. I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you, because your company is probably having the same challenge. There’s a lot you could and should be doing about this. Let’s talk about the importance of establishing employee action plans (also known as objectives), which state how you and your employees will support the company goals to achieve success. Ideally, everyone in your business should have accountability, and action plans make that happen.


When establishing action plans, keep in mind they should fit the experienced, inexperienced and in-between employees. They should be:

• Easier, limited in number and shorter-term for the new employees; and

• More challenging, greater in number and longer-term for veteran employees.

These bullet points say it all. Take it easy on new employees (rookies) and challenge the experienced ones (veterans).

Let’s visit the rookie employee guide-lines in more detail. Setting easier and shorter timeframe objectives builds self-confidence and gets the rookie off to a great start—unless, of course, he/she isn’t the right person for the job. Then the sub-par performance is soon evident to the manager. So, for what-ever the reason, treat newer employees differently than the veteran employee.


  • Don’t expect perfection;
  • Most of the employees meet most of their action plans most of the time; and
  • The ultimate measure of success is continuous improvement.

Completing 100 percent of the action plans within 100 percent of the target dates isn’t expected. However, you should expect most of the employees to meet most of their action plans most of the time. If you continually accept missed dates for completing goals, then you’re condoning poor performance—not only now, but also in the future. Likewise, if you continually accept missed dates from one employee, others will think they can also neglect completing theirs. Making exceptions can create problems within the entire organization. Your ultimate goal should be continuous improvement and employees committed to making it happen.

Here are some suggestions for establishing a timeframe for when goals should be accomplished:

  • Strive for a balance over the entire year;
  • Avoid too many year-end dates;
  • Too many, too early in the year can’t be done either;
  • Too many in the same month is a real challenge; and
  • Don’t set up the employee for failure.

This says a lot in just a few bullet points. So, consider each carefully.


It’s not unusual for management and staff to over-commit to accomplishing their objectives by grouping too many together. For example, it’s not realistic that an employee will accomplish 75 percent in the last quarter of the year.

At our company, employees also establish action plans for our annual top priorities. I admit, I’ve missed an action plan because I established too many for one month. Yes, even veterans can overcommit. Don’t let your employees set themselves up for failure. Spread out the work over the entire year.

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