Technician performance reviews are a necessary part of my job as a manager. I find technicians to be difficult to convince they need to follow the general protocols of talent management and really be active in their development. Frankly, some days I feel like I am beating my head against the wall. While searching the Internet for ideas (best ways to hide a body, ha!), I found an article that helped me understand what I was doing wrong. Although it is a little dated, I feel the principles are still applicable. The article was written in Fast Company magazine and can be found online at tinyurl.com/3gt8z. It is about author Marcus Buckingham’s philosophy for getting the most out of people and the organization.The article is a “must read” for any manager and his or her boss.
I am a firm believer in empowerment. I believe you tell people what is expected of them, give them the tools they need and then get out of the way. Buckingham’s “five attitude adjustments” essentially, in my opinion, can be boiled down to pure empowerment. However, there are some points he makes that are worthy of discussion here.
My experience working in many different jobs has afforded me some unique opportunities to experience many different levels of employee motivation (including my own). I have gone from from gas station attendant to cable TV technician to consumer electronics retail store service manager all the way to biomed tech turned director. I have seen the same struggles appear in each of these different occupations. A common issue is motivation, specifically engaging employees to give 100 percent to the company to help it grow and prosper. However, at every place where motivation was a problem, there was a control issue. The manager or owner could not let employees do things the way they wanted to even though they achieved the same result. They got so caught up in the details of the tasks that they ended up squelching productivity by being more of a hindrance than a help.
The more management tried to help, the worse the team performed.
I never was sure of the root issue to this phenomenon until I read this article. Buckingham’s attitude adjustment No. 2 brought it together for me. He says “Stop trying to change people. Start trying to help them become more of who they already are.” Then, he discusses how one person’s strengths can be maximized while minimizing their weeknesses. He talks about “standardized processes” and “a one-size-fits-all” fallacy. I have experienced many well intentioned “universal” tools that were nearly impossible to apply to our department. Buckingham’s advice is stop trying to fit everyone into the same mold.
I found this article to be full of common-sense ideals that I have heard expressed by employees during informal gatherings. I was surprised to see Buckingham’s attitude adjustment No. 5 – “Don’t assume that everyone wants your job – or that great people want to be promoted out of what they do best.” He explains that promoting great performers out of what they do best is wrong. And that the paradigm of rewarding these top performers with promotions to new levels does more harm than good.
I know most of my techinicians love what they do. They want to be the best in their field, but most do not have aspirations to be a manager. They choose their profession because the daily work is interesting and challenging. It requires continuous education and commitment. Should they be forced to move to a different position? I agree with Buckingham when he says no. We should be rewarding them for being masters of their jobs, not moving them out of that role. If a great tech wants to move up into management, he/she can be given the opportunity. If they don’t want to be managers, that is OK. They can build on their strengths and be awesome in their existing role.
I hope you can take some time to read the Fast Company article (tinyurl.com/3gt8z). I have only touched on a couple of Buckingham’s ideas here. I think you will find it to be a refreshing look at what the future could be in your organization if these attitudes were adopted.
Jim Fedele, CBET, is the senior director of clinical engineering for UPMC. He manages six Susquehanna Health hospitals. He has 30 years of HTM experience and has worked for multiple service organizations.
*By entering your email address, you agree to receive emails regarding TechNation Magazine, Webinars, and Exclusive Promos.
© 2021, TechNation Magazine. Site designed by MD Publishing, Inc.