The end of the year is a good time for service managers to sit down with their technicians and conduct yearly reviews. But as James “Alex” Alexander told us earlier this week, many managers simply don’t bother arranging year-end assessments, missing a great opportunity to learn and improve upon the year.

In an effort to promote year-end reviews, we combed through the SmartVan archives to dig up a few tips for not only holding employee reviews, but making the best of them.

Focus on the Future

Alexander says many performance reviews are a waste of time, if not conducted properly. “As far as driving behavior, [performance reviews] are one of the worst things ever invented,” he said. “If you talk to most people, it’s highly de-motivational. … Seldom is there any behavior change out of it. I think people would get a lot more benefit in talking about moving ahead and forgetting what happened in the past — using your headlights instead of taillights.” Read More.

Get Customer Feedback

Your company may have its own set of key performance indicators, like on-site arrival times, job resolution percentages, etc. But remember that customers’ satisfaction with your technicians is one of the biggest factors in whether they’ll do repeat business with your company. So get a sense of what customers think of your techs. Jim F. Thomas, president of HVAC contractors JS Thomas Service, Inc., says managers need to take the initiative to reach out for feedback. A disappointed customer may not take the time to call you up — they’ll just move on to another vendor. Read More.

Offer Incentives

Ride-alongs are a common way for managers to get an up-close look at how technicians perform in the field. But Shaun Huszarik, a service consultant with IPG Graphics in Massachusetts, disagrees with that method. “I personally believe unannounced visits undermine the trust between management and the field personnel,” he wrote. Instead, reward high-performing techs, he says. He suggests offering them some plum assignments (like the Hawaiian customer account). Read More.

Keep Score

Customer service can be a really hard thing to measure. So make sure your company is committed to collecting data on service. Crafting a smart (if imperfect) survey is a start. One tip: Use a sliding 10-point scale for responses; they’ll allow for more nuanced and accurate reports. Read More.

More: Year-End Reviews: Why Service Companies Are Doing It All Wrong.

Click here to download a free whitepaper, “Five Steps to Make Field Service Profitable.”

ABOUT Ian Stewart

Avatar photoIan is a veteran journalist who has covered sports for various news outlets. Previously, he was managing editor for an electronic-book publishing company and a public relations writer.