Guest Column | February 10, 2020

Engaging Your Workforce With Daily Habits

By Bruce Breeden, Field Service Resources

Calendar Flipping

That $1,000 smartphone is key to technician engagement and forming effective daily habits.

Your field service technicians’ job performance powers the achievement of the service business plan. From service delivery and safety compliance to customer relations and service sales, technicians must be engaged and coached to achieve their operating goals. The best way to engage and coach is to focus on daily habits, and field service technology makes coaching much easier than ever.

I teach field service technicians and engineers the critical focus areas and soft skills. The most important aspect of the training is the daily habit because this makes the training actionable. All of the training, objectives, and metrics in the world will not advance the organization’s results unless each technician commits to daily habits. Successful people are able to put a process in place such as a daily journal or checklist to drive the learned topic into a daily habit.

A good example is experienced in all of the hours and investment in instructor-led and online traditional training. Humans don’t naturally learn something and immediately apply the technique. This is evident especially in learning new approaches such as soft skills. Yes, we have “ah-ha” moments, and even make a note or pass a test. But key learning topics are not fully actualized. Typically, technicians need direction and support to learn and apply new approaches such as improving their customer interactions. Field managers are the primary coaches but are limited with being remote and conducting other tasks.

Today’s technology and mobile applications are the best augmentation to training and forming daily habits.

So how can we look at technology in a different way to develop new daily habits from technicians?

The first step is a set of leadership actions for messaging, job structure, and training plan. Ensure your training and focus includes daily habit forming and your leadership communication plan. Start with a key change leadership principle – the “why.”This is the frequently missing piece to change leadership. Author Carmine Gallo stated this well: “People don’t care about how they are supposed to do their jobs until they understand why they’re doing it.”

Start with the leadership communications to tell the story about the “why” behind training on new skills and include the “What’s in it for me?” part. Our industry is loaded with voice of the customer and customer-centric service strategies. This first step is the foundation for communications and technology applications.

Define the key performance focus areas of your FSE role. Usually these are technical proficiency, safety, customer relations, productivity, service sales, and inventory control. And don’t forget ongoing commitment to professional development to ensure your workforce is constantly adapting and growing their skillsets.

Second, establish a technology platform to engage your workforce with general messaging and gamification to achieve objectives and learn. Often, field service work becomes draining with 24/7 coverage and pressures. Use gamification to make work fun and motivating. Integrate gamification into the technician’s mobile system so they clearly connect their focus areas and daily habits to the scorecard and objectives. New technicians and experienced techs alike need reminders and direction to apply new habits.Recognition for technicians and teams achieving their objectives is a positive influence to sustain the behaviors and skills.

Third, ensure your digital workflow addresses the role and daily habits you expect from your field teams.An example of this is our customer interaction process, GRIP.GRIP stands for greet, relate, inform, and promote.By having these defined steps integrated into the work process, the FSEs can easily follow the desired work process, and it triggers learned techniques.Digital workflow eliminates the option to follow the process.

Another digital workflow is knowledge management and leveraging the resources of your team to provide interactive training, support, mentoring, and learning communities.

Field technicians, as the eyes and ears of the company, provide tremendous value in “voice of the customer” and safety reporting.Technology enables them to provide quick reports while at the site.

Fourth, consider a deliberate coaching system to equip your field managers to connect and coach on a daily basis. We covered technician daily habits, already; the other part of the equation is management coaching. Field managers need to develop a daily habit of coaching their technicians. The best role your service management team can fulfill is to act as a daily coach to direct and support performance. Technology enables this with image sharing, annotations, instant messaging, and many other native functions. After all, as an example, if the manager doesn’t talk about safety, then the technician won’t be as engaged in safety either.

These steps will power daily habits by improving the training focus, engagement, and coaching.The utilization of technology and digital workflows greatly improves performance.

About The Author

Bruce Breeden is the founder of Field Service Resources, LLC and author of the book, The Intentional Field Service Engineer.  Bruce works with FSO leaders to improve operational performance, lead digital transformation programs, conduct FSE and manager training, and implement mobile technology platforms.