A business coach once told me to “always make the system the heavy” when coaching my technicians. What she meant by that was focusing on evaluating how well the tech was adhering to a sales system or process. In doing so, the discussion would remain based on facts and not my subjective opinions. The process provided a common ground on which we both could agree and became the “heavy” which would ultimately reveal how well the tech was performing. I found this to be extremely effective in my coaching — here are three critical steps I followed when coaching to such a process.

1. I’d invite the technician to conduct a self-evaluation immediately after the conclusion of the call. I used the “Curbside Feedback Form” from Nexstar Network as my tool of choice in this area. It was a simple one-page document that had the entire service call process divided into six steps, with key behaviors listed under each step. To the right of each behavior there was a scale that ranged from 1-5. I would hand the form over to the technician and ask him or her to take a few moments to rate how well the behavior was executed.

2. Then, I would invite the technician to debrief the performance, using the form as a guide. I find that as humans, we are usually more critical of ourselves than others are of us — so two simple questions, on what the technician felt went well and what could be improved, got the conversation rolling and revealed how aware he or she was of his or her own actions. The key to this step is really all about the questions, but more specifically, probing questions. These are the type of questions that get to the root of actions by uncovering the motivating beliefs or feelings behind them. They empower the performer to consider things from new perspectives and discover possibilities or reasons previously not apparent. So often I would just want to blurt out what I thought the technician was doing wrong, but I found by drawing the person out through questions, he or she began to own the problems identified and to come up with his or her own great solutions to them.

3. Finally, I would end the debriefing by having the technician choose an action item that he or she planned to implement on the next call. The action item is the accountability piece of the whole ride-along process and is a great way to improve performance one step at a time. I would make sure the action item identified was specific and behavioral based. “I’m going to work on increasing my closing rate” would not be a good action item. By simply asking how the technician was going to increase his or her closing rate, I would often get a response that could be crafted into a better action item.

I hope the information provided in the last four articles has benefited you and you now feel more prepared to have success in your ride-alongs. If you stick to your role as the observer, truly believe in the performer, and coach to a process, you’ll be well on your way to increasing the performance of your technicians fourfold.