3 Bad Techs Who Don’t Know It

First, let's state the obvious and clear the air a bit. The photo above is SUPER CHEESY! But this story is about three bad techs who don't know it, so a photo of three models clearly posing in clean clothes makes as good of a proxy for a bad tech as anything else.

First off, I'm not being negative about the trade or making fun of people. The point of this story is to identify some traits that many of us may exhibit or see in others techs, and it can be hard to identify our own issues or issues within your organization. See if any of these techs sound a LITTLE TOO FAMILIAR, and maybe we can learn something. Before you ask… no, these are not real people… probably… maybe.

Randy the Drama King

Like most dramatic people who work in the trades, Randy doesn't see himself as being dramatic. He just thinks he is constantly being disrespected by management and co-workers, customers are crazy, the dispatcher is out to get him, it's always about to rain, and that ladder (and every ladder) looks unsafe. These things aren't DRAMA; they are FACTS in Randy's world, and if you question this reality, you get added to the long list of people who are disrespecting him.

Randy starts conversations with customers with phrases like, “You aren't going to want to hear this,” or, “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” He also tends to blame his coworkers or company because they are just clueless, and he knows what's REALLY going on.

Randy is actually a good tech, but he gets in many conflicts with co-workers. Customers don't always like his negativity (or, as he calls it, “honesty”), and he is inefficient and largely unpopular with other techs and management. Randy knows people think poorly of him because everyone is conspiring against him with that blankety-blank dispatcher, Donna!

Randy always feels persecuted by the people around him and usually has something negative or conspiratorial to share about every topic. Politics, the weather, customers, co-workers, spouses—you name it.

Here is a test you can take to see if you might be a bit of a Randy:

  • You have more than five people you are ticked off with or avoiding at any given time.
  • You consistently see “danger” around you that nobody else sees.
  • During work hours, you have multiple conversations over five minutes with others about things that are “wrong.”
  • You use a lot of negative and fear-inducing language with customers.

If you find you are letting negativity and drama get to you, the best practice is to give yourself a break from negative speech. Like your grandma used to say, “If you don't have anything nice to say…” Negativity is a hard habit to break, but the best time to start is now. Also, the best antidote for negativity is gratitude.

Bob the Excuseful  

Yes, “excuseful” is a word. I made it up, and I like it.

Bob is confident that he would be able to do his job if he were just given the proper training and tools, enough time to do the job, enough sleep, and if he weren't forced to work these ridiculous hours. Bob often wonders if he should go back to school and get his degree in “something,” and he thinks about all the courses he would take if his cheapskate boss would just invest in him.

Sure, he was given a book and sent to a seminar last month, but that was all THEORY. You see, he is a hands-on learner, and he CANNOT learn from books, videos, seminars, or anything unless he can get his hands on it. Once he DOES get his hands on it, he can't be held responsible for any mistakes he makes because he has to be SHOWN what to do and how to do it, and if he isn't SHOWN, how can he be held responsible? When you DO show him, he claims that he is a hands-on learner, so he can't learn things by being shown—he needs to do it himself.

His truck may be a mess, but he would clean it if he ever had time with these ridiculous hours. But in the slow season, that is his one time of the year to relax; you can't expect him to take his own time during the slow season to clean his van, can you?

Here are some indications you may be struggling with a bit of Bob-ish excusefulness:

  • You feel jealous when others succeed and immediately give some reason why they have an advantage over you.
  • You read fewer than five books last year but still feel like your lack of education is someone else's fault.
  • You find yourself using “hands-on learner” as a reason for failing to understand something.
  • When you don't understand something, you call or text someone rather than looking up an answer yourself.
  • You have a sense that your lack of progress is due to a lack of “opportunity.”

The best way to stop making excuses is to begin living and working with what old-timers called “grit” or “gumption.” That means doing whatever it takes to solve problems, making excellence a goal, and going after it, no matter the barriers. Start by reading and learning on your own. Don't wait for someone to show you or tell you; go get it yourself.

Todd the Careless

Todd knows he is just forgetful, he TRIES to remember to tie down his ladder, put the caps back on, and close his back doors on his van, but he just forgets sometimes, OK?

Sometimes, Todd gets defensive when other techs call him out for leaving the panel off or “forgetting” to clean the drain, but Todd usually apologizes and says he will do better next time. But he knows he won't because he didn't do it on purpose; it just… happened.

Some of the “grouchy” old techs have told him that he doesn't seem to care about his job, but they are WRONG! (In Todd's mind, that is.) He does care; he just has other things going on in his life and mind, and accidents sometimes happen. Like, there was that one time he stepped through the attic ceiling, or the time he slipped on the ladder, and that one time he rear-ended that car in the parking lot… oops.

You may be a Todd if :

  • You regularly make mistakes where you “just forgot.”
  • You find yourself looking at your phone, texting, and using social media during the workday.
  • Your mind is preoccupied with personal matters during work and while driving.

We have entered a new era of carelessness due to the advent of smartphones, social media, and texting. Many of us find our minds constantly distracted by things other than work during the workday, leading to poor outcomes, mistakes, and safety hazards. Everything from climbing a ladder, to driving, to filling out a service call requires ATTENTION, and distraction can lead to costly and dangerous mistakes. The best advice is to put the distractions away during the workday—unless you're reading this article. Just remember to put the panels back on and run test the equipment when you are done.

—Bryan

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