Terry Thompson, Surrey, BC, CYBF Mentor, tthompson15@verizon.net

Time in the field usually involves spending time (where appropriate) with:

  1. Employees located outside your office (e.g. other branches);
  2. Clients;
  3. Suppliers; and
  4. Employees located within your office.

Not all of the above apply to every company (e.g. small, one office companies), or positions (management vs. non-management positions). This article is focused on management positions.

I can, without a doubt, say that some of the highest returns on my time were from time spent in the field, particularly with employees and clients. I would:

  1. Attend team meetings held at our various branches;
  2. Spend a day with individual sales people riding with them on sales calls and client retention calls;
  3. Spend a day with individual truck drivers riding with them as they provided our service to clients; and
  4. Meet with clients to obtain their feedback regarding their needs and how we were performing.

There wasn’t one time in the field that I failed to learn something valuable about the client, how we were performing, how our employees felt about the company and management, etc. Further, via sources I viewed as reliable, the vast majority of the people that I spent time with appreciated the fact that a senior manager would take the time to meet with them, ride with them and so on.

So how does time in the field improve a manager’s self-sufficiency? It goes to the heart of improving the managers’ ability to:

  1. Maximize employee engagement; and
  2. Maximize client satisfaction.

These are, I believe, the two key measures of corporate culture. By taking time in the field, the manager is experiencing first-hand what both clients and employees are thinking (rather than relying on feedback from other sources), and just as importantly, putting your face to what was probably only a name to them. Hopefully it is a positive face and leaves both employee and clients with the impression that you have listened to them and care.

Lastly, I have also observed a few rules about time in the field such as:

  1. Do not be judgmental or defensive when you are with the person. If you have concerns, determine how to deal with them later unless, of course, they must be dealt with immediately (such as serious safety issues);
  2. Spend more time asking questions about the person you are with, seeking their questions and input rather than talking about the company (other than to answer any questions that may have about the company). It is very similar to an interview; and
  3. Do not promise anything that you cannot deliver.

Should you have any questions or feedback regarding the content of this article please email me at tthompson15@verizon.net ©

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