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Question: I have a service tech who is great at everything but doing his paperwork. Any suggestions on getting him more compliant?

Gary Elekes; EGIA faculty member and Founder of EPC Training:

I think paper is on its way out, so the good news is we’re entering an era where it won’t be such an issue. But the fact is, some companies still uses paper timecards, paper invoices, or paper estimates for clients.

When we transitioned to a digital approach back in 2008, a big issue we were trying to fix was legibility – proper English, creating a sentence that someone in the office could interpret, and simply filling out the paperwork correctly.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one simple answer to that. You’re dealing with a culture and behavior problem. We always talk about being hard on the problem and soft on the people.

The first step is to confront the issue and behavior itself. That means addressing accuracy, timeliness, and being compliant with the paperwork. Failure at those things creates a ripple in the pond – it’s not just that person’s problem, it’s a problem for everyone. There are probably 30 different things that happen negatively when that technician doesn’t fill out their paperwork properly: someone has to chase down the information, parts don’t get ordered properly, customer service fails, etc.

Confront the technician relative to what happens in the organization, confront the behavior, and have a discussion. You really need to have that move forward structurally with milestones and check in with your tech daily or every two days to evaluate progress.

Any habit is created over a period of time. It took a series of days, weeks, or months for this tech’s bad habit to occur, so it’s unlikely that this behavior is going to change quickly. You as a leader must continue to manage that process over time if you believe that tech is worth retaining. The possibility that they’ll backslide is pretty high, which is why you have to set up the timing, the milestones, and the discussions.

To me, the service management function is in charge of this. If you’re the owner of a smaller company and you’re acting as the service manager, it’s a tax on your time but definitely necessary. If you’re not willing to switch to electronic, which forces the issue, you’re just going to have to continue to meet with that individual.

If you continue to meet with them and the fail to meet compliance, I think you have to put a write up together and force the issue a little bit more aggressively from a human resources point of view. Some people might suggest tying compensation to this but I don’t believe in that type of behavior change being tied to money.

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