This month we’re going to continue our discussion of ride-alongs by reviewing two additional expectations that need to be set with yourself and two that should be set with the performer. By taking the time to establish these, you’ll both be in the right frame of mind to begin your ride-alongs.
After committing to your role as the observer, I offer for you to take a moment to check your beliefs about the person you’re about to saddle up with. Primarily, do you believe they are capable of achieving success? Beliefs influence our actions, body language and communication on both a conscious and subconscious level, which can lead to self-fulfilling behavior on our part. If you believe someone will be successful, the way you engage with him or her, the level of energy you invest in him or her and the language you use will all ultimately influence that person toward a successful outcome. Conversely, if you believe that a person will fail, your actions will drive toward that outcome. Simply stated, whether you think the person can or cannot, your belief will often be self-fulfilling. I encourage you to explore this concept in more detail by doing an Internet search for the “Pygmalion effect.”
It’s also important to ensure you’re prepared to be “present” during every moment of the ride-along. The time you dedicate for ride-alongs is all about the performer, and your actions will either send the message that you’re either there to support them or just fulfilling an obligation. It also opens the opportunity to further develop your relationship and learn about outside influences that may be impacting your employee’s performance. Being fully present may mean silencing your phone, avoiding thumbing through emails or texts, and leaving any paperwork at the office.
Now let’s talk about two expectations to set with the performer. First, share the details of your ride-along plan. How long will you be spending with him or her: Will it be all day, a portion of the day, or for a set number of calls? Let the performer know you’re there to be supportive and offer perspective with the objective of increasing his or her success. Explain that you’re not going to take over the call and that a debriefing will occur after each call, with the majority of the debriefing being a self-evaluation of what went well and what could use improvement. The goal here is to remove any anxiety that may exist and paint the picture for how the day will go.
Lastly, you’ll want to plan who will introduce you to the customer and how you will be identified. As you ponder this, consider that your objective is to observe performance in as natural a setting as possible. To do so, you’ll want to ensure the customer is primarily engaged with the technician and the focus isn’t unduly drawn to yourself. With this goal in mind, you may want to have the technician introduce you by name only and simply mention that you’re assisting them today.
Now that we have already discussed roles and expectations, next month we’ll move into discussing the importance of coaching to a process.