By Bruce Breeden, principal, Field Service Resources LLC
The traditional business and leadership skills of past service business are not what is required in today’s field service industry.
“Automating A Complex Field Service Operation” was the headline in 2016 when my company was featured on the cover of Field Technologies magazine. I have appreciation of that feat, but also realize that the required outcome today has advanced to innovation versus just automation. By definition, innovation will challenge existing structures, roles, systems, compensation, policies, and metrics. Innovation is certainly a challenge to the position of “that’s not how we have done it around here.” To clarify, I mean innovation that provides customer, employee, and financial value, not just misguided change. As field service leaders, it is time to check our leadership skills to see how they measure up for an era of innovation. We need to ensure we are capable of leading innovation and managing the complexities of organizational leadership in the business environment.
Recently The Wall Street Journal published an excellent article on how the oil and gas industry has changed the landscape of employing “roughnecks” with digital tools, and new field service roles. The use of augmented reality, data, and analytics has created a new high-tech style of field service requiring smaller teams and more highly skilled field technicians working in coordination with office-based scientists and their systems and analytics. Innovation drives new service delivery models, which in turn provides new value, organization roles, and systems.
Here are major factors that change the way a director leads a service business:
Even performance management is and will continue to change to more effective methods. No longer do we wait until the year is over and have an evaluation, review accomplishments, and award a pay increase. Daily coaching and using modern mobile technology to improve engagement with transparent, real-time KPIs has become the norm. Real-time technician location, job status, JSA/safety check-off, and measurement of daily KPI accomplishment is standard.
To address the above dynamics, service leaders must base their actions in innovation for all points of the business. This may be in the form of process improvement, implementing new technology, team structures, role creation, or communication and engagement tactics. I still believe “systems thinking” is another strong leadership approach considering the broad set of responsibilties a service leader has and the number of cross-functional touch points a service business has within the enterprise.
Here are five main aspects of effective leadership for today’s field service leader:
Bruce Breeden is the founder of Field Service Resources, LLC and author of the book, The Intentional Field Service Engineer, and creator of the Field Service7 development program.
Bruce advises field service organization leaders on organization development, mobile technology applications and provides technician and management training.