Avoiding technician burnout
There are only two people responsible for technician burnout. Bosses and the techs themselves.
Who is responsible for burnout?
There are only two people responsible for technician burnout. Bosses and the techs themselves. The first rule for bosses: When you pressure your technicians to solve your problems, they will burn out.
If you think your technicians must sell and upsell to solve your money problems that won’t end well. Our industry is fragmented because techs quit trying to solve their boss’s problems and end up wanting to start their own company.
The second rule for bosses: When the hard work of being a technician starts to affect families and attitudes it’s not going to end well.
How many of you, like me, have written classified ads for technician’s spouses? We wrote the ads knowing the tech wouldn’t read it. We wrote it for their spouses. Things like, “no weekend work,” “great job security,” “company vehicle,” “no overtime” and “good pay.”
Now, here’s the problem. After you snagged the technician did you forget the promises to their family? No one can work 50 to 60-hours a week all summer and have a happy family.
Leaving the trade
We know most techs quit their jobs because they think the boss is not treating them right, but real burnout is when they quit the trade itself.
Years ago, we saw an exodus of home service technicians leaving the industry for better paying manufacturing jobs. Techs were just plain tired of hot, sweaty, dirty, dusty work. And they felt like no one really appreciated what they had to go through. Especially not the boss, and look how rich he is, right?
But when the family starts regularly complaining about your job and how no one appreciates you then it’s the job that takes the hit. Why not go work for a big Fortune 500 company that cares enough to give your children dental insurance and give you set working hours so your wife and family can finally plan a decent dinner?
Winning techs back
We now have a chance to entice techs back into the industry, but we better remember why they left. Happy technicians enjoy working and getting fulfillment out of a job well done and well appreciated.
A happy technician is one who is:
• Paid at the high-end of the skilled labor scale in your area
• Has sensible scheduled working hours
• Has more vacation days than you ever thought you would give anybody
• Health insurance for the whole family
• Gets a raise twice a year
• Gets a percentage of the work he brings in
• Gets treated like family, and gets to use the boss’s boat and camper
• Gets looked in the eye and told, “You are amazing, you can fix anything, no wonder our customers love you so much!”
• Gets a chance to sit down with you twice a year and talk about how their life is going and how you can help
What technicians do wrong
Let’s talk about how technicians contribute to their own burnout. And that’s by setting the wrong expectations for themselves at the wrong time. If they get on the wrong path at the wrong time, pushing for the wrong thing, it won’t end well.
Back in the day, around 1989, I tried to become operations manager of a large electrical company. I was sure I was smarter than the current leadership, and that they needed my expertise and wisdom. I nominated myself for a position to the board of directors, and I was voted down.
Now here’s where learning happens. The president of the company took me aside, put his arm on my shoulder and said, “Don’t feel too bad about this Rodney. You took a shot, and I respect that. But you got voted down this time. It’s not that you are not talented, but right now, well, you just haven’t lived long enough yet.”
That was a defining moment in my life, I avoided burnout by accepting wisdom and determined to live longer and learn more. When a technician wants a promotion that is not yet earned or available he needs to be appreciated and talked to. And given a path to learn and grow.
Remember your passion
For technicians and bosses both, remember, no matter what your trials, that hardships and obstacles actually work to develop passion. Passion gives the strength to find solutions and answers.
When you talk to yourself, do you say, “Surely there is a better way than this”? That is the path to expertise which comes from having the passion, the persistence and the fortitude to push yourself to solve problems. Solve enough problems and you are rewarded with expertise. Sometimes our path leads us to burnout and sometimes it leads us through burnout.