From my rather short time as an actual technician, I remember being somewhat frustrated by the lack of clarity on where my career was headed. It really wasn’t a topic of conversation that was had regularly, and it felt like a really awkward question to bring up to management.
Now that I’ve been on both the technician and management side, I wanted to write an article that explains how I would go about it. I’m writing this one through my “technician eyes.”
Asking the Right Questions
If you’re like me, you would love to get a peek into the future to see what type of opportunities are out there for you. An honest assessment of what my skills are and how they translate to future opportunities. Do I need to work on my soft skills in order to make a transition to a service manager role? Great, tell me this so I can work on getting better. Give me ideas of what training is available or other ideas about how I can improve.
To take that thought even deeper, give me an idea of what the responsibilities of the service manager are. As a tech, I might come to the conclusion that it’s really not something I want to do. Even this gives me clarity on what I’m working toward.
If that’s the case, we might need to look at other opportunities in the shop:
- Are there opportunities for me to make more money?
- Do you envision a time where we’ll add roles that aren’t currently here like a technical lead or a teacher?
- If so, are there things I can do to add to my skills to help get me into a position to capitalize on those opportunities?
From the management perspective, I think a lot of managers are worried about laying out a plan because they feel like the tech may think they are entitled to that position in the future. If you’re approaching a manager to have this conversation, do yourself a favor and bring that part up. Make it known that you understand that just because you’re asking about it, doesn’t mean that it’s automatically yours. Doing this helps you address a tough topic in a way that can align both of your expectations and allows for an easier conversation.
Takeaway: Don’t Wait for Management to Start the Conversation
My biggest piece of advice for a tech in this situation is to not sit back and wait for management to approach you on it. Too often, techs hold these questions in and don’t talk to a decision maker about what they are thinking. Of course, you need to do this in a professional manner and think through what it is that you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for answers on what to do to progress in your career, a few questions can make a big impact for you.