There is something inherently unique in having the opportunity to get to know your boss on a personal basis. Cultivating a relationship that goes beyond the regular tasks of the work day can build an understanding and level of trust that proves essential to the success of a business.

I say this not as a way to suck up to my own bosses (they are all great!) but as a call to contractors to ensure they are taking advantage of one of the most simple and effective tools in their arsenals: the ride-along.

Contractors are constantly looking for ways to build stronger relationships with their technicians as well as train and educate their staffs. The ride-along accomplishes each of these things.

A few weeks back, this space in the magazine was used to detail the importance of one-on-one meetings. Why not occasionally take those meetings on the go and spend some time in the field with your technicians? This doesn’t necessarily mean hopping in the truck every week or even every month.

However, technicians at every level of your company can likely gain something from having you along for the ride once in a while. And this can also spread to having your veteran technicians take new hires under their proverbial wings.

It may seem to be just a basic bit of training for new team members, but through a ride-along, they get the opportunity to bond with you or a senior member of your team. This is an excellent opportunity for them to have work conversations in an environment that doesn’t feel quite as stiff or formal as the interview process likely was.

You can use time in the truck as a means of checking for quality and consistency from technicians, both veteran and rookie alike. You may also give technical advice where appropriate, impart some of the wisdom you’ve acquired throughout the years, and also show you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done without being overbearing.

In conversations with contractors and technicians during my time with The NEWS, it almost seems as if a sort of stigma has been attached to most ride-alongs. The concept that they are only used to punish someone, show an individual needs greater supervision in the field, or are only beneficial when training new techs is false.

Instead, consider a ride-along as an opportunity to spend time with technicians and show how much you care about and value their day-to-day efforts.

In a previous NEWS article, Gresham Ard, a business coach with Nexstar, explained that many managers are not taking advantage of this investment largely because of the time it takes to do so. “There’s always some pressing task that falsely masquerades as more important, and ride-alongs get pushed to the end of the to-do list,” he said.

Put quite frankly: They shouldn’t.

As we have mentioned plenty of times in these pages, contractors must do everything in their power to fend off the impending tech shortage and keep the quality technicians on their roster from leaving the team.

Can you find the time to hop in the truck once every so often and ride shotgun with your employees?

An answer of “yes” can only benefit you and your staff.

Publication date: 12/5/2016

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