In our last two articles, we discussed the value of a technician and steps you can take to improve the success of your new hires. For this discussion, we are going to assume that you have a new hire coming into your department today. What are you going to have him do? What is the plan to get him up and functional as a technician as quickly as possible?
Too many times, a new technician is brought back to the service manager’s office and they visit it for a while. Then because the service manager does not have a specific plan, and there are three people lined up to see the service manager, he calls a technician in and has that technician take the new employee with him for the day.
This pattern may continue until the new technician goes to school. The result is a waste of the new technician’s time, the service manager’s time, and a less than optimum outcome.
The first step in solving the issue is to develop a new hire plan. You need to identify what the new technician needs to learn and to accomplish in his first 3 months. This would include company procedures, forms, and rules. The new hire also needs to start the manufacturer’s training courses, and this usually includes both classroom and online training (OLT).
For your plan, you will also want to make sure that someone introduces the new hire to the people that he will interact with. It may be that you want the new hire to spend some time in departments like parts and dispatch so that they become familiar with how those departments function.
You need to identify current employees or supervisors with training ability to use for ride-along visits and to foster the new technician’s skills and growth. To qualify, they would need to be good examples of what the company expects.
To help the new hire with his training, provide them a procedures manual that outlines the normal activities of a technician, and how they should accomplish them.
At a minimum, a procedures manual should cover the activities that the technician will accomplish in the field and the associated forms. This is a time-consuming process the first time, but then it will pay off every time a new technician comes onboard.
The procedures manual should cover work hours including start and stop times. It should additionally cover company HR policies and important contact numbers.
I recommend that for every form, there is a document that explains how they should fill the form out, what the form is used for and where the completed form should be submitted. By having this document, the paperwork starts to become more standardized. Additionally, the technicians can find the answers they need without your help.
When you document the minimum steps the technician must perform on each type of service call, then evaluating a technician’s performance is simplified. It also helps to standardize the service department resulting in results that are more consistent.
One thing that may help in generating the procedures manual is to ask the technicians to help in writing and reviewing the information. By getting their input, you will also get buy-in from the technicians. If for example, you asked each of him or her to provide a description of a minimum acceptable service call, it would allow you to see how the technician approaches the task, and you may find that there are steps one technician does that should become part of every technician’s process.
Now you want to create a plan for the technicians as they come onboard. These plans need to be detailed and structured so that they are self-explanatory and a new technician can follow them with minimum assistance. For example:
· 8:00 to 8:45 Supervisor takes technician on tour of facility pointing out needed landmarks, such as restrooms, break rooms, smoking area, and other important building features.
· 9:00 to 10:00 Manager briefs new technician on the training plan, reviewing document. The manager provides a copy of the procedures manual and training plan. The manager enrolls the technician on manufacturer website and enrolls the technician in the first class. The manager explains the first day’s tasks and directs technician to the appropriate location to work area.
· 10:00 to 11:00 Employee assigned to read the first chapter of the procedures manual.
· 11:00 to 12:00 Lunch
· 12:00 to 4:00 Employee continues reading, completes the first form, and identifies the purpose, and where the form goes once it is completed.
· 4:00 to 5:00 Employee reviews activity with the manager and they confirm the plan for the following day.
Utilize the same process and format for the remainder of the 100 days. Each day’s activity will be different, but the let the plan explain what needs to be done and who is responsible.
We will go back and replay the scenario we started with. It is a new technician’s first day. The supervisor meets them at the receptionist, provides the tour of the building. The technician comes into the service manager’s office. You give him the information discussed and his copy of the training plan. The manager reviews it, takes him to the workspace and returns to his duties.
There is no question of what needs to happen, and the process begins. This process results in technicians with a consistent work product and requires minimal intervention during the first three months. When it is, time to make a decision on whether to retain or terminate an individual you have objective standards to measure the technician's success.
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