How to support your field engineer team

How Rhiannon Thurmond, Biomed, supports her field engineer team

Field Engineers are often onsite working alone. The Engineer can be working against the clock. Not all issues are easy to solve, and not many are standard. These three things can combine to create a stressful job at times. What can help is having a manager or team leader giving support whenever needed.

This article discusses how you can support your field engineer team.

Rhiannon Thurmond, Biomed Operations Manager at Ultimate Biomedical Solutions shared her experience of leading her team.
Rhiannon starts with these ten key things:

The first five

We utilize Microsoft TEAMS for a companywide meeting on Monday per region. We include Biomed, Imaging and Admin staff.  This allows everyone to check in on issues that need to be escalated, repairs that require collaboration, etc.

We utilize TEAMS Chat to notify each other on a regular basis.  We develop separate Chat rooms within the platform for various projects with different collaborative efforts going on behind the scenes.

I collaborate with my team every week to:

set micro goals

discuss upcoming projects

check mission critical issues that need to be done

They come to me with updates along the way and by utilizing Teams, there is visibility, so I know when to step in to help.

I work alongside my team at various sites.  I keep in mind their career plans and send them on calls with me that align with those. If I find they don’t have a tool to do the job, I find a way to resolve it.

I cross train often.   Then once they master the skill, they cross train their colleagues in turn.

The second five

It is key to me to ask each member of my team for their input and often include them in any decisions that will affect the whole team. I ask if they need help with any issues they have observed onsite, and supply resources as needed.

As a team leader, I hold each technician in my team accountable and to the same standard.

Another thing I do is to make my own training videos and keep detailed notes.  Then, I can support them to the best of my ability from afar as they grow their skills.

I am in continuous process improvement mode.  I am always trying to make things as efficient as possible.  My team help with Program Increment (PI) goals.  It all brings value to them knowing that what they are doing is paving the way for an easier road ahead.

We carry out inventory validation on any asset we touch. As PMs (Preventative Maintenance checks) are due if we find something new or not in our software it is amended. This makes fewer mistakes and keeps our documents current.

What is your experience as a manager or team lead?  

How would you answer the following questions?

How well do you need to know each member of the team as an individual?
Can you manage everyone in the same way? Or should you tailor what you do to the individual?
What do you think your field engineers want from you as a manager?
What is the best way to encourage your team members development and progress?
How do you ensure your team members are given opportunities to learn new things, handle new clients, mentor junior members of the team?
Do you need to understand the detail of what they have to do including:
how long it takes
what is challenging
what is new to them?
How do you find out what their ‘blockers’ are? For example:
what don’t they have access to?
which training would help but is not available to them?
What advice would you give to someone who tends to micromanage?

To conclude – a few tips to support your field engineer team

Be flexible in terms of how much support you give
Communicate clearly and frequently plus repeat what is of key importance
Ensure that goals, targets, accountability and expectations are clear
Give feedback and spread the word if someone has gone ‘above and beyond’
Make sure that you are their voice at higher or other levels of the organisation
Don’t stop doing any of this even when they are quiet as they may need help
Make sure they know each other even if they are based at a geographical distance

Further reading

Where do excellent field service managers come from
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work in Field Service

Worth Sharing!

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  1. I have “known” Rhiannon for some while now via LinkedIn. One of the first things that drew me o her was her use of social media as a medium to attract non-biomeds as well as to inspire new biomeds to share in what we do on a daily basis. She leads and motivates her teams, and goes out of her way to mentor others. Rhiannon is a rockstar of this field. Take time to get to know here, and let your light shine!