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How to Keep Your HVACR Team Upbeat

Sept. 15, 2020
There are many motivational resources you can tap into as a way to maintain positive attitudes within your HVACR team.

Based on the reports I see and the contractors I talk with, this has been a good summer for the HVAC industry despite COVID, unemployment, uncertainty, and riots, which means your people in our industry are stressed.  Here are some of the ways we keep the Service Nation team update.  They will work for your company too.

Start the Day With a Motivational Video
At Service Nation, we’ve been doing this since March 16.  Every day, I go online and search for a motivational video that focuses people on the positive.  This is posted to our free Slack channel, though they could be sent by text, email, or posted on an intranet or private Facebook page.  I keep the videos short.  I shoot for five minutes or less.  

At least for the start of the day, redirect people’s thoughts in a positive direction. We do it with a question that points people in the right direction.

To find the videos, I focus on a theme. For example, some of the things I’ve searched for include:

• Staying positive
• Positive mental attitude
• Grit
• Determination
• Joy
• Resilience
• Humor
• Laughter
• Happiness
• Success
• Bouncing back
• Optimism
• Chicken soup stories
• Relationships 

You get the idea. If something is going on with employees, I would target the video around the issue. When a few employees were not treating each other as graciously as they should, I selected videos on the importance and power of being nice to others for an entire week.

Terms are not the only thing to search for.  I’ve search for particular motivations speakers, including, in no particular order:

•  Zig Ziglar
• Denis Waitley
• Lanny Bassham
• Brian Tracy
• Simon Sinek
• Earl Nightingale
• Les Brown
• Jim Rohn

I’m sure half the company rolls their eyes and never, or rarely plays the videos.  However, I have had a surprising number of people comment to me in company meetings and privately that the videos are important and help them start the day in the right frame of mind. 

Ask a Question to Direct People’s Thoughts In the Right Direction
The news media is relentless in gloom, doom, and panic porn. Social media is even worse because, as extreme as the media appears to be getting, social media amplifies the differences. Your team is getting beat down from the minute the work day is over. If your technicians are listening to talk radio in their trucks, they are getting beat down between every call.  At least for the start of the day, redirect people’s thoughts in a positive direction.  We do it with a question that points people in the right direction.

Often the question for the day will be related to the video. A key component is the business leader must set the example.  When talking about bouncing back, I might share a story about a time in my life when I faced adversity and bounced back from it.  It is uncomfortable for me to open up, but it is also important.  The leader sets the tone.

Because I have been open, a number of people in the company have opened up. Ironically, we have learned more about each other because of the pandemic than we ever knew before

Because I have been open, a number of people in the company have opened up. Ironically, we have learned more about each other because of the pandemic than we ever knew before.

Not all of the stories I share are personal. Some of related to the company history to reinforce our company culture.  Some of the questions I have used include: 

•  After a Les Brown video about Chinese bamboo trees that require a long period of nurture before explosive growth, I asked, “Tell me about a time you had to push through?”
• After a video on Nick Vujicic’s attitude (he’s the Australian with no arms or legs), I asked, “Exercise always helps my attitude.  What helps your attitude?”
• After a video on an Olympian who pulled a muscle, but was determined to finish the race and a personal story about how I nearly flunked out of college I asked, “Tell me about a time you learned a difficult lesson?”
• After a video on the power of positivity, I asked, “Yesterday, Jim Hinshaw thought we should shoot for 4,000 people to attend Service World.  That's pretty exciting.  What are you excited about?”
• After a video on determination in the face of adversity, I asked, “I'm looking forward to the augmented reality (of Service World Expo Virtual).  Tell me something you're looking forward to.”

You get the idea. Each day, I try to get the team thinking about how they have performed well in the past or things they look forward to in the future. If I can’t come up with anything else, I ask them to tell me something good or to identify something they are grateful for.

Be Real in Your Communication
When we were forced to pivot on the Service World Expo and turn it into a virtual event, I was completely honest about what we were doing, why we were doing it, how I felt about it, and how we were going to turn it into a win.  A few of the responses give you an idea about how effective it is to be real: 

•  Carol Longacre: “Thanks Matt for the video and your timing on the honesty.  I truly needed that.  I was slipping into an attitude that I’m not really proud of and I needed to hear that, it has made me re-exam my thoughts. I’m so grateful for this company and the team we work with!” 

• Jim Hinshaw:  “Matt, I really appreciate your candor and openness.  Watching a small amount of live tv, they interviewed a flight attendant, she said the airline industry was going to lay off as many as 40,000 come the end of Sept, when the federal money runs out on their PPP.  All around us industries are struggling, but in our world our customers are having record months… We will look back at 2020 and realize we learned something about ourselves and our team mates that we could not have learned by reading a book, watching a documentary, we had to live thru it.  Positive things concerning how we work thru a pandemic, and manage to be effective while separated.”

• PeriSean Hall: “Thank you for showing your vulnerability. It confirms your strength and affirms the confidence we have in our leadership.”

• Rick Bousquet:  “Matt, as the new guy I can't tell you how much I appreciate your honesty and your ability to admit vulnerability. Creating what you all have created and the opportunities and overall impact you provide with staff, business owners, members, industry, amazing.”

• Dave Bailey: “Matt, you all have built a family. I worked for an organization for over 20 years. Many times over those years, I left on vacations and I missed nobody. Had I never returned; it wouldn’t have bothered me in the least. But here, I genuinely miss the work family that I have been welcomed into, and I know that you all miss each other as well. Also, we are delighted to see our customers and they us, during Expo. That kind of organization, or family, doesn’t come about from the bottom to the top, it comes from the top down. We work in an atmosphere that values each other as individuals, and as a group.  Thank you, Matt, for being honest in your low times and with your frustrations, and thank you to our whole leadership team to keep fighting for us and for leading us into the future.  This will pass. As a company (family) we will be stronger than ever.”

These responses show how a team will rally when the leadership is real.  This atmosphere can be created in any company.  It starts with you.

The Service World Expo is going virtual, which means attendance is unlimited and FREE, September 22 – 24.  Register at and check out the incredible line-up of keynotes, breakout speakers, and the augmented and virtual reality incorporated into the show.  This is like a trade show inside of a video game.


Map To Success