Sep 08, 2021

Technician Performance Review: How to Measure Success

Technician Performance Review: How to Measure Success

Have you put serious thought into your heavy-duty repair shop’s performance management strategy yet? If you haven’t, now’s the time to get started. 

Research suggests that companies with high-impact performance management strategies are 1.4 times more likely to hit their financial targets, 2.2 times more likely to become more efficient, and 5.8 times more likely to have generally chill vibes than their lower-performing counterparts. (One of those statistics is made up—try to guess which one without clicking the link!)

If you’re ready to rethink your shop’s performance management strategy, there’s no better way to begin than by closely examining the humble performance review. While performance reviews can help you build trust with your techs while helping them improve, handling these evaluations the wrong way could do more harm than good. 

Here’s our complete guide to why technician performance reviews are so important—and how to ensure your upcoming evaluations will go off without a hitch.

What Is a Technician Performance Review?

On the surface, performance reviews are quite simple. These are meetings where a manager or another team leader (that’s you!) talks to one of their employees about their work performance, gives them valuable feedback, and establishes goals for the future.

Ideally, a performance review should let employees know:

  • Where they’re excelling
  • What areas they can improve in
  • How their efforts have aligned (or failed to align) with your shop’s broader goals
  • What you expect from them in the future

The Importance of Technician Performance Reviews

Qualified professional in any line of work want to know how they’re doing. Even today, performance evaluations are the best way for employers to provide this feedback to their employees. You’ll also have an opportunity to give your workers constructive advice on how to do their jobs more effectively during performance reviews.

Performance reviews are crucial for both highly effective and highly ineffective technicians. If your technicians aren’t doing their jobs correctly, a performance evaluation can help you pinpoint where they’re struggling and offer solutions and support to help them improve. Just as importantly, performance reviews can be a perfect opportunity to recognize your best workers and motivate them to keep working hard.

Challenges Of Measuring Technician Performance

With access to hard data on each of your technicians, you can commend them for what they’re doing right—and figure out exactly where there’s room to improve.

However, you won’t be able to thoroughly track your techs’ performance if your shop is still stuck in the 20th century. Digital systems for workflow management, inventory management, and customer communication don’t just make life more convenient around your heavy-duty repair shop—they can also automatically track countless data points. You’ll be able to keep a watchful eye on how your technicians are doing (whether they have a performance review coming up or not).

Defining Success in Technician Performance Reviews

As far as we’re concerned, a successful performance review helps your techs understand the goals and expectations of your shop as a whole. Your evaluations should also give your workers the tools they need to know whether or not they’re effectively working towards these objectives.

Reaching both these goals in a performance review is easier said than done. Fortunately, your heavy-duty shop can use a few simple strategies to make your technician performance reviews as effective as possible.

Setting SMART Goals For Technicians

When establishing goals for your technicians, be sure these targets align with your shop’s overall objectives. Take a moment to double-check that the goals you’re creating are SMART.

Here, “SMART” is an acronym for:

  • Specific. Your technicians’ goals should include answers to “W questions” like who is involved with each goal, which resources or limitations it involves, and why each goal is important.
  • Measurable. If a goal is easy to measure, you’ll know exactly when it has (or hasn’t) been met.
  • Achievable. While it’s good to be ambitious, your techs’ goals should be within the realm of possibility.
  • Relevant. Of course, the goals you give to your technicians should be truly worth pursuing.
  • Timely. Every goal you provide should come with a target date—that way, your techs won’t put these goals on the backburner in favor of day-to-day tasks.

In contrast, STUPID goals are:

  • Short-sighted.
  • Time-consuming.
  • Unquantifiable.
  • Pointless.
  • Impractical.
  • Definitely not something we just made up.

How to Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Your Techs

Remember how we said SMART technician goals should be measurable? If you don’t, that’s a little concerning—we just talked about this during the last section. 

The point is, your employees need some way of knowing whether or not they’re actually making progress toward their goals. That’s where key performance indicators, or “KPIs,” come in.

A KPI isn’t a goal in and of itself. Instead, this is what you’ll use for the “measurable” part of your SMART goal. By tying the goal to a specific KPI, your employees will know what they need to do and how they are progressing toward that objective. 

You can also assign different KPIs to different employees. Diesel technicians who are taking too long on each job could focus on boosting their average repair time (which could have a positive impact on your revenue funnel), while techs struggling to deliver quality workmanship could try to improve their first-time fix rate.

Here are some tips on establishing technician KPIs the right way:

  • Don’t overcomplicate things. The best KPIs are simple enough that everyone in your shop can understand them—even Dave!
  • Tie your technicians’ KPIs to your business’ goals. It doesn’t matter how straightforward or specific a KPI is if it doesn’t further the overall objectives of your shop.
  • Try not to overdo it. With today’s highly advanced heavy-duty shop software, you can measure just about anything, but you don’t need to set up KPIs based on every data point you can access. Instead, focus on your most important targets.

Best Practices for Performance Review Meetings

To hold truly effective performance reviews, you need to keep a few procedures in mind along the way. Here’s what you should know about:

How To Prepare For a Technician Performance Review

When preparing for an upcoming performance evaluation, your first step should be gathering all the information you have on the technician you plan to talk to. That means getting your hands on their:

  • Previous performance review
  • Job description
  • Performance data
  • Employee self-assessment
  • Notes from the past year

Once this information is ready to go, you can start the planning process in earnest. Take note of any significant accomplishments your technician has made recently, areas where they have performed exceptionally well or shown signs of growth, extra responsibilities they have taken on, and progress they have made towards their goals. In addition to these positives, look for any challenges they have encountered and areas where they could develop their skills.

How Often To Conduct Performance Reviews

This is a simple, straightforward topic, right? So there’s no way you want some noncommittal answer about how “every shop is different” and how you need to “find a performance review schedule that works for you.” 

Well, we’ve got good news: while providing regular feedback for your technicians is essential, the exact schedule of your performance reviews will vary based on a few key factors.

…Wait. Never mind.

As it turns out, this subject isn’t quite as straightforward as you might assume. Yes, regular performance evaluations will encourage your techs to trust you, make them feel recognized for what they’re doing right, and allow you to express what they could do better.

But the actual cadence of performance reviews will depend on your shop’s overall size, workload, and number of employed techs. Your best bet is to sit down and figure out how often you can and should provide this feedback (whether that’s once a month or a few times a year). 

Once you have this plan in place, make a point of sticking to it for the long haul. Just like scheduling preventive maintenance for trucks, regular meetings with your team helps you catch issues before they get worse.

Handling Difficult Conversations

You won’t have to worry about this because your technicians are already perfect. Okay, section over!

It’s tempting to avoid confrontation when talking to people, even when your employees are doing something wrong. But while these conversations can be challenging, your techs—and your shop—will ultimately be stronger because of them. 

Have a strategy in place for less-than-glowing reviews. When you need to deliver a harsh performance review, be sure to:

  1. Plan ahead. Before delivering this performance review, plan out what messages you want to share and how you’ll get these messages across. Find solid examples of where the technician has performed below expectations.
  2. Find the right environment. No matter where and when you decide to hold a challenging performance review, it should take place somewhere private. That’s true for every performance review, but it’s especially important in situations where you’re talking about serious issues with an employee’s performance.
  3. Get ready to deal with anything. People can find it difficult to hear about their shortcomings—and that means emotions during a negative performance review could run high. Along with this, your tech might disclose personal issues you weren’t aware of that have affected their performance at work.
  4. Develop a performance improvement plan (PIP). If a technician is truly struggling, it may be time to give them a PIP. These documents clearly outline the changes an employee needs to make in order to keep their job, and they provide concrete timelines for meeting these performance goals. By utilizing PIPs, you can give well-meaning employees another chance to succeed while keeping your shop’s turnover rate as low as possible.

Technician Performance Review Documentation

Finally, thoroughly document your analysis in the form of a written performance review before meeting with a technician. While preparing a written performance review, use clear, straightforward language to communicate your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Hold onto this documentation and use it to refresh your memory for future evaluations.

If your shop doesn’t already have a standardized form for written performance reviews, it’s worth taking the time to create one. These forms should be adaptable enough to allow for comments, examples, observations, and data related to employee performance.

Get the Data You Need With Fullbay

Though there’s no “shortcut” to preparing for technician performance reviews, there are steps you can take to make this process easier for yourself. For example, since effective performance evaluations are highly data-driven, you’ll need a better way to manage this data than tracking it by hand.

Fortunately, this is one of the many areas where Fullbay excels! With Fullbay, you’ll have constant access to reports on technician efficiency, completed/clocked hours, and much more. 

And that’s far from the only benefit—your techs will appreciate our system’s easy-to-understand onboarding process, service order workflow assistance, and customer communication features. For more information on how Fullbay can transform your heavy-duty shop, schedule a demo today!

Emilie Vecera