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Developing Competencies and Skills in Service: Nick Frank’s notes from a recent Roundtable

What’s on the mind of Service Managers as we start to ease out of Lockdown? Well, competencies and where to go in the coming years is certainly one hot topic.  Nick Frank from Si2 recently co-hosted a round table on this topic at Field Service Forum 2021, together with Lisa Hellqvist, Copperberg MD.

The attendees wanted to cover two key topics:

  • Skills development
  • Knowledge Transfer

Here is a short highlight of the discussion

  1. Skills Development
  • Engineers need a broader range of technical skills including software/network systems & mechatronics, as product complexity increases and there are pressures to cross train engineers.
  • In parallel, there are greater expectations in terms of their ability to communicate with the customer and act as an essential information channel within the Customer Care team. Teamwork is a critical behavior (whereas in the past, many Service Engineers worked alone -probably enjoying the independence – an interesting challenge)
  • We discussed that competencies have 3 components to be developed:
    • Knowledge
    • Skills
    • Behaviors
  • This led to a side discussion about two behaviors that are important to see in service people:
    • Curiosity
    • Always Learning
  • We asked about competency and skills development plans for service engineers. While most attendees do technical training, only a few covered behavioral skills such as Trusted Advisor, and these training plans were not usually part of their career progression. We have found these two elements to be very much part of best practice in leading service businesses.
  • Managers also talked about their experiences during COVID where face-to-face learning was not always possible. But by using videos and technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), some of them have been able to continue the “learning by doing” process. In particular, AR has made the learning process much more interactive and hence valuable.


      2. Knowledge Transfer and Retention

  • Knowledge retention is a challenge for service teams as many face a demographic time bomb with many senior technical staff approaching retirement. To counter this most attendees talked about the coaching and mentoring approach to transfer knowledge from experienced to junior team members. However only a few are building formal Knowledge Bases to sustain their team into the future.
  • To make more effective use of senior engineer know-how, one attendee talked about how they were segmenting tasks between complex (to be done by experienced engineers) and less complex. This maximizes the value added by experienced engineers and frees up time to either deal with customer issues on the helpline (improve customer care) or mentor/coach junior engineers in the field (joint visits, AR, phone support, etc)
  • A culture of “Knowledge Sharing” was developed by one manager by planning into team meetings a 15-min session where the team discusses tricky customer problems. This process encouraged and rewarded team members to develop instructional videos and “how-to documents” as part of an informal knowledge base.

So if you are a Service leader in the industrial space, whether from a manufacturing or engineering company, but also a pure-play technical services provider, consider joining the Service Leaders Network. For more information visit the Service Leaders Network page  or email us at