It’s well understood for the need to have strong engagement, adoption of technology and a skilled workforce to achieve service business objectives. Sounds so easy and straight-forward but yet business objectives are missed, and the root cause is mixed performance levels by the team. So how do we get consistent and high performance from our valued service teams?
The dominant reason for missing objectives is a lack of effective coaching skills and dedication to this management task. I can cite numerous data sources and studies, but my best reference is having gone through a coaching course as a field service manager years ago and the experience I enjoyed with my team. Coaching is an effective engagement and communication platform that is an essential skill of field service managers. Employee retention is another result of good coaching and leadership.
I’ll be the first to admit being a field service “protagonist” in advocating the enablement of the field service technician or engineer to achieve trusted advisor status with the customer and operating as a brand ambassador. In the digital world, we need space for both technology and the human experience to achieve our objectives. As service business leaders, our focus is on people, with process and technology as enablers.
In my experience both as a field service leader and trusted advisor to other leaders, the process of developing habits is what coaching should address. This bundle of habits defines field service excellence. Newly hired field service technicians probably don’t know the key habits of field service or worse yet, they learn the wrong habits.
Top performing field service operations focus on these seven areas and build habits through process, technology and people – requiring the manager to coach people as their core management responsibility. Key Focus Areas:
- Technical proficiency
- Customer relations
- Productivity and use of systems
- Service sales and lead generation
- Inventory control
- Professional development
Excellence in these focus areas through habit forming steps, behaviors and skills drives results. Coaching techniques addresses the technician’s strengths and weaknesses and provides effective direction and support to improve performance. Learning and developing in isolation is difficult if not impossible. Coaching is the best method to engage and truly evaluate performance and progress.
Finally, also make sure you have an effective system for coaching. Have an agile framework especially with field-based teams. Develop a targeted on-boarding program for new hires. Establish a learning and mentoring community. Have metrics and evaluation plans aligned. Most importantly seek a coaching course and start with training your management team on being effective coaches. They need training, support and coaching as well.
Coaching is critical and not a one-time event with the changing business landscape, technology impact and the human factor.