Managing Maintenance People

Rob S.

Member
Join Date
Sep 2008
Location
Maryland
Posts
739
Good Morning ,

I am a project engineer that supports and manages some projects for these plants. It is not my position to manage
the maintenance staff or any other staff. I have the hardest
time keeping my mouth shut about how our maintenance staff is handled at this plant and how it is dealt with. The maintenance supervisor does everything for them , makes repairs , troubleshoots for them , thinks for them, etc.
I coach high school athletics and there is no way I would
allow my players to be mediocre like this. I have managed
people about 6 years ago , around 20 at one time. There is
no way I would let them waste away like this. What a shame not to push people to succeed.

The sad thing is, upper management is the same way. What we need is some Woody Hayes ( Former Ohio State Football Coach )in the business , and industry world. I feel like making them run sprints in the parking lot.

Does anyone else feel this way sometimes ?

Thanks , and have a great day.
 
Rob,

Here we struggle with the opposite problem. Bubba, Otis, Cletus, and the rest of the gang are for the most part actually pretty competent maintenance techs. They usually try and tackle most problems until they get them solved. But their boss gives up all too easily, throws up his hands, and calls engineering before his guys even have the covers off. Its frustrating for us and its frustrating for his guys.

In both cases the message to his crew is the same, i.e., the boss doesn't think his guys are competent enough to do it themselves.

Once the maintenance manager calls we have to show up - often only to find that the techs have the situation well under control. So we say "well, if you need anything we're here and good luck." and go back to what we were doing. If I do have to step in I try and maximize the 'training opportunity' so that the experience boosts their confidence.

A micro-manager is ego driven and unless there is something that he perceives to be bigger and cooler to occupy his attention there is not a lot you can do about it. Focus on gaining and promoting the confidence of the staff and don't worry about what you can't fix.
 
Rob S
In other lives and the last century I managed a large maintenance group. I also owned a business with employees. In retirement I teach "Mechatronics" to adults. Every class has one, two or sometimes three very exceptional guys that can reason, have the work ethic and have a passion for the job. Several years later I find them still bouncing from job to job. The good people just don't fit in a mediocre organization.
It DOES all start at the top.
 
Rob,

Here we struggle with the opposite problem. Bubba, Otis, Cletus, and the rest of the gang are for the most part actually pretty competent maintenance techs. They usually try and tackle most problems until they get them solved. But their boss gives up all too easily, throws up his hands, and calls engineering before his guys even have the covers off. Its frustrating for us and its frustrating for his guys.

In both cases the message to his crew is the same, i.e., the boss doesn't think his guys are competent enough to do it themselves.

Once the maintenance manager calls we have to show up - often only to find that the techs have the situation well under control. So we say "well, if you need anything we're here and good luck." and go back to what we were doing. If I do have to step in I try and maximize the 'training opportunity' so that the experience boosts their confidence.
We always appreciate your "training," although, we are usually too tied up to tell you we appreciate it.

Thanks
 
Maintenance & Production Supervisors (the guys on the floor not in the upstairs office) have the absolute crappiest jobs. Management leaning on them from one side - usually inadequate staffing on the other. The guys that do it successfully get promoted out of the position quickly - only to be replaced by the next poor sap. The guys that have been there a while haven't figured it out yet.
 
I've always thought that skilled trade maintenance people and their immediate supervisors are among the least appreciated and mission-critical in an organization.

Pouring training, gratitude, and an occasional appreciation lunch at them will pay back in spades. And, it will improve management's image, too.

What a concept! And, why is it so rare? People with grease on their clothes aren't necessarily bad!
 
I've always thought that skilled trade maintenance people and their immediate supervisors are among the least appreciated and mission-critical in an organization.

Pouring training, gratitude, and an occasional appreciation lunch at them will pay back in spades. And, it will improve management's image, too.

What a concept! And, why is it so rare? People with grease on their clothes aren't necessarily bad!

Dick - I'll work for you tomorrow!!

One of my great frustrations is that some of my colleagues fit into the category that the OP talked about. You have to show them the problem and tell them the solution. Then they will come back and say they cannot find any spares. The management know who is weak but does not give them any extra coaching. In fact, they get given the simplest of tasks - checking oil levels and other basic tasks the apprentice should be doing!
 
I am a small EC that loves to "do" and often times it is hard not to just jump in and take over a project. I noticed yesterday that one of my guys is doing the same thing and it really does not help train the others. Everyone eventually needs to know that they are expected to be more than a gopher, unless that is all they want to be. In which case they need to gopher another job.
 
Tom@Pton - One of the philosophies often adopted by the hands-on guys is that of "I don't give away what I had to get the hard way". It's a self-preservation concept that a lot of good maintenance guys develop and it's not always best for the organization. My guess is your guy feels that way.

About Maintenance Departments and Management thereof, a buddy of mine made the observation that there are generally two types of organizations; those that see Maintenance as an expense to be minimized and those that see it as an asset to be maximized. Unfortunately with accountants running the show more-and-more these days, too many of the top guys fall into the first group.

Steve
 
Thanks for all your responses. I am glad to see that I am not the only one that deals with this. Have a great weekend.
 
There is a percentage of people on any staff who are self-motivated and regardless of the level of management interaction, will become good producing employees. (the cream rises to the top). Then there are those who won't move unless threatened with harm. I believe the better managers will recognise these people and will for the good of the company, find a way to dismiss them. Most employees will fall somewhere in the middle of this continuum. The best manager can asses talent and potential and bring an employee along to be his best.
 

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