Group picture of all of the attendees of the 2023 Field Supervisors Forum
Synergy hosted 84 members for our 2023 Field Supervisors Forum on March 19-21st at the Loews Chicago O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, IL. This year’s session featured a workshop with guest speaker Lisa Withers, large group discussions, and small peer-to-peer breakouts.

The Field Supervisors Forum started with Lisa Withers’ “Shift Happens” workshop. Lisa shared how she defines leadership, how being a leader differs from being an individual contributor, the importance of EQ, how leading today differs from the past, and the importance of engagement.

“Leadership is the act of getting individuals aligned and moving in the same direction toward a desired outcome,” said Lisa. “It’s not about the title. Not all managers are leaders and not all leaders are managers.”

Lisa encouraged attendees to think about the shift that has to happen when you move from being an individual to a formal leader. She explained that it’s important to understand that when you enter a formal leader role your value to the company shifts and that means that where you spend your time must also shift.

“Lisa’s session was really good,” said Catalino Alfonso (Western Allied). “I gained more knowledge of what a leader is and what it takes to be a leader. Now it’s up to me to walk the walk.”

On day two Jim Bartolotta (Synergy partner) kicked off the day by talking about the field supervisor’s impact on culture and creating a place where people want to work. In small groups, attendees talked about how many people they’re leading and their process for spending time with them.

“There were some new ideas and some great reminders of what we should be doing all the time,” said Tyler Winfield (Gardiner).

The morning continued with a discussion of the cost of doing business. Attendees were asked to vote in a live poll to choose what percent of their billed labor rate goes to wages, what percent goes to field burden, and how much a motor is marked up to break even. Jim then went through a “Dollar Dance Exercise” to visually show that the net profit for most companies can be around 2-4% after accounting for all things like wages (37% of the billed labor rate), field burden (31% of the billed labor rate), insurance, social security, income taxes, building and utility expenses, tools, admin, sales, etc.

“The dollar dance was eye opening,” said Juan Guerrero (A.J. Monier). 

After lunch attendees talked about how they’re growing their team. They shared how they share the workload, how they’re sharing knowledge within their team, and the internal and external training they are doing.

The last session of the forum gave members an opportunity to role play different real world challenges, including finding out that one of your techs is leaving for more money and getting a call because one of your team members cut someone off on the highway.

“It was very informative and helpful to see how others are dealing with day-to-day issues,” said Tim Donovan (Cox Engineering).

The session ended with each attendee writing down their action plan of what they want to implement and goals they will accomplish when they return home.

“It really related to my day-to-day,” said Jeff Bebej (Atomatic). “This was one of the most engaging forums for me.”

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