I usually end the seminars I teach by
explaining the Perfection - Procrastination - Paralysis syndrome.
Most over achieving, technical types have a natural aversion to
failure. Normally, technical employees would rather not try
something new, than try with the potential of failing. Because we
want to succeed, we wait until we have figured out how to do
something perfectly, before we are willing to make an attempt.
Inevitably, this causes a delay in starting the new behavior. This
in turn ultimately allows the procrastinator to do nothing. At the
conclusion of my seminars, I challenge the attendees to “Return to
your office and give yourself permission to fail.”
Trying something new takes extra effort. You are taken out of your
comfort zone. You are probably going to experience some sort of
road block or error along the way. The idea of starting a new
project with the hope of minimal success goes against our fix it
right the first time mentality. We must learn to accept failure as
a way of successfully figuring out what does not work. Failure is
a stepping stone along the path to success. New achievements take
time and practice to accomplish.
Often techs have little entrepreneurial spirit because of their
fear of failure. The fear of loss overpowers any hope for
As a technical service professional, I am always dealing with
methods to overcome the negative aspects of my job. I try to use
techniques that allow me to overcome the fear of failure. I have
come to expand my beliefs in the concept of: Good, Better, Best.
Some days, nothing Good seems to exist in the service department.
Sometimes my Good is minimally acceptable. But it is Better than
it was yesterday. I am at the point in my work and personal life
where I give myself permission to be pleased with any day that
ends a little Better than it started. Sometimes Better is not yet
Good, but it is an improvement over the original status.
Acknowledging that things are Better than before is a
psychological way to reward yourself for forward movement. You
realize you have not yet succeeded, but there is movement in the
right direction. Proactive service managers reward their staff and
themselves for small points of improvement. It may not be Good,
but it is Better than it was.
Every service manager I know periodically faces a day or two of
complete frustration: too many calls, incorrect parts ordered,
computer failure, a dropped machine, and a key tech goes home
sick. By the end of the day, utter dejection is mixed with a sheer
survival mode. It is at these moments that I force myself to think
about Better. No service vehicles were wrecked. We did 3
successful installations. No one quit. A tech picked up a $3300
check for a past due Maintenance Agreement before the PM was done.
Yes indeed. Things are Better.
The next time your day in the service department is less than
stellar, do not reflect on your failure to be Good. Focus on what
is Better than it was this morning.
One of the best pieces of management advice I ever received, and
use on a daily basis, is built on the tried and true 80 - 20
model. In the early years of being a service manager, I was often
frustrated by all the interruptions I had during the day.
Concerned clients, out of stock parts, a tech gets a flat tire on
the way to an appointment or dispatched to the wrong address, the
salesman did not show up to meet the tech, the IT contact at the
company cannot be reached, etc. All these emergencies got in the
way of my ability to do my job.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted taking care of all the
little emergencies that sapped my time, energy and good humor. I
would look at my To Do List, and only be able to mark off a couple
of completions. I felt like a failure.
Then a wiser, older service manager explained that all those
little emergencies I was dealing with were not interruptions to my
day’s work. They were the majority of my day’s work. Rather than
creating a To Do List that involved 8 hours of work, I should use
the 80-20 philosophy. 80% of my time should be scheduled to deal
with the Urgents. Handling the moment to moment circumstances of
the day may require 80% of my time. The items that require
immediate attention are not emergencies when you have planned for
them to happen. When there are no urgents, you can return to the
important things on your To Do List.
At the end of the day, when the calls are completed, the clients
are happy, the techs are safe and profit has been made; you have
just completed a successful day in the world of field service
management. There are some Best days from time to time.
When I was a field tech, customers and equipment cheered me on
throughout the day. After each service call, broken equipment was
left clean and working. End-users were happy to see me walk in the
door. They were even happier when I left with their problem
repaired and their equipment was again working. I saw smiles and
received many thanks throughout my workday.
As a field tech, I was able to drive around and see new places and
people everyday. I was invited into hundreds of different
businesses throughout the years. I met a lot of people, many who
became personal and professional friends over the years. I learned
about a wide variety of businesses and work practices. Every
drive-through or restaurant had the potential of providing me with
a new or familiar eating experience. The good life of a field tech
came to a screeching halt when I was promoted to service manager.
I have always respected the work done in the office, shop, and in
the field. The leader of the service department increases their
worth when they can create a positive working atmosphere within
their sphere of influence. The service department’s work
responsibilities have expanded to encompass direct interactions
with all aspects of the company. These include sales, supplies,
warehouse, procurement, administration, invoicing, finance,
collections, delivery, facilities, showroom, clients, vendors, and
OEMs. The professionalism and positive attitude exhibited by
service employees influence the entire demeanor of your company.
Your daily focus should be to make sure that at the end of each
day, your service department is Better.
Ronelle Ingram, author of Service With A Smile, also teaches
service seminars. She can be reached at