Tech Basics: Working With Your Manager

Suddenly, before you know it, you've graduated from an HVACR vocational school program, and you are ready for a career in HVACR.

You talk to vendors, friends, and your local contractor trade association. You develop a list of prospective companies.

At the third company you visit, the interview process goes well. You speak to the service manager, the owner, and then with the service manager again.

The company offers the salary and necessary benefits to get you in the door, and they seem like decent folks with a strong purpose and mission. The service manager strikes you as a calm, steady-minded professional who will help with career growth. You sign on.

Two Months Later

Where did that mild-mannered service manager go? During the course of a day, you notice hair falls freely from his head as it simultaneously grows upon his back. This poor chap is pulled in so many directions he looks like he's ready to fly apart. Where does this leave you? Are you on the right track, doing the right things to advance your career?

Every time you try and talk to him, the radio or the phone is going off, or his boss is trying to talk to him. Relax. Before you decide to strike out in search of a different service manager, take a little control of your own destiny.

Your Career, Your Responsibility

There are many dedicated professionals in our industry who enjoy helping others learn and grow. But the ultimate responsibility rests squarely upon your shoulders. You must first make up your mind to advance as a service technician. No one else can do this for you.

Once you have assumed this responsibility, you can help others help you - including your overworked service manager. The key is communication.

Two Roads

You must come to a meeting of the minds with your service manager. This conversation should take place after the office closes or on Saturday. This way, you get his undivided attention.

Initially, you will want to discuss two topics: one, what the service manager expects of you at work, and two, your desire to develop as a service technician. You'll know you are on the right track when these two roads begin merging into one.

Great Expectations

How will you know what is expected of you? Expectations evolve from two different types of behavior. The first is doing the things you can control. The second is striving for goals set by yourself and the service manager.

You can control things like:

  • Always wearing a clean uniform and being well groomed.

  • Arriving to work on time.

  • Completing paperwork legibly and correctly.

  • Communicating effectively with people in the office.

  • Developing safe driving habits.

  • Keeping your vehicle clean.

    You can set goals for yourself in areas such as:

  • Revenue totals.

  • Service leads.

  • Service contracts sold.

  • Reduced callbacks.

  • Learning how to service various systems.

    Ongoing Development

    The key is to have a clear understanding of what your service manager expects of you. Next, perform the behaviors you can control - without fail. Finally, actively find ways to achieve your goals. It helps to write down your goals and review them weekly.

    Explain your intention to grow as a technician to your service manager. The service manager is in an ideal position to help committed technicians. Once this commitment is recognized by way of your actions, the service manager will be more apt to help you.

    When your development aligns with the service manager's expectations, the course is set for dynamic chemistry and career growth.

    Periodic meetings during quiet time with your service manager will strengthen the working relationship. It is a good idea to discuss your development and how you are meeting expectations. These conversations can lend confidence to your future. Especially once the service manager goes back to the daily rigors of his job.

    David E. Rothacker is a member of the National Comfort Institute's advisory board and a National Comfort Team founding member. For questions or comments on Tech Basics, contact Rothacker at

    Publication date: 11/29/2004

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