Rapid technology advancements in field service mean that technicians’ job requirements change before they know it. Who thought 10 years ago that today we’d be dispatching fleets from iPhones or repairing Internet of Things-enabled devices?
One way for service organizations to keep employees engaged and informed about the changing landscape is through mentoring and coaching programs. Not only do these initiatives help close the skills gap that plagues so many companies, but they also combat another pressing challenge: the aging workforce.
Among field service leaders surveyed by The Service Council, 46 percent cited people development as a top priority as they look to staff and train a new generation of service workers. As Baby Boomers hit retirement age, the loss of knowledge and skills is becoming even more apparent. With mentoring programs, top-performing veteran technicians can impart years of wisdom and skill upon newer hires.
Such programs have real value, too. Service revenue was more than twice as high for organizations with a mentoring program, according to a recent Aberdeen report.
Millennials Crave Mentors
Mentoring opportunities are especially valuable to Millennials. “We believe that Millennials are typically more interested than previous generations in finding a mentor,” Karl Moore, an author and leadership educator, writes on Forbes. “They have grown up with the notion that one must constantly seek the advice of another.” Since the future of every company relies on Millennials to succeed, Moore says that their older peers should take time to shape the direction of this workforce.
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Knowledge transfer goes both ways. “There has been a rise of reverse mentoring. [Gen Xers] have invaluable knowledge that demands to be shared, but in this technological age, so do Millennials,” Moore says. “They understand emerging technologies and social media trends better than the older generations.”
Mentoring From All Angles
The Aberdeen research shows that 76 percent of top-performing field service organizations have formal mentoring or coaching programs in place, compared to a 41 percent industry average. While these formal engagements are a plus, companies also should include opportunities for employees to casually share information and develop informal relationships.
“In a complex environment, learning comes from a combination of discovery, dialogue, experience, reflection and application,” Raghu Krishnamoorthy, GE’s vice president of executive development and chief learning officer, writes on Harvard Business Review. At GE’s Global Leadership Institute in Crotonville, N.Y., senior leaders and thousands of other employees have the opportunity to teach and learn from one another, with the ultimate goal of creating more cohesiveness and collaboration.
Mentoring programs, coupled with frequent training opportunities, build a learning culture where skills and knowledge keep up with technology and industry shifts.