Maintenance Management Turnaround

February 22, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

People and Technology are Needed for Change

Turning around a poor performing maintenance operation is not as simple as buying and implementing new technology such as a CMMS system or adding advanced tools such as ultrasound or vibration analysis.

These are just tools. The key to success is the ability of senior management to find the right leader who can blend authoritative, facilitative and coaching management styles.

With the right maintenance manager, turning around operations can be achieved more effectively but more importantly the right leader will achieve the staff buy-in necessary to implement a CMMS in order to:

  • Move away from reactive maintenance to a proactive work management system.
  • Reduce unplanned repairs resulting from a lack of preventive maintenance.
  • Lower capital budget requirements by extending the useful lifecycle of assets.
  • Lower facility, plant, venue energy costs.
  • Minimize labor costs by reducing overtime.

Turnaround Management Styles

There are three basic management styles and each has its own positives and negatives. Selecting who will lead the maintenance turnaround requires experience and an understanding of each style.

Authoritative Management Style

Authoritative managers can be characterized as maintenance managers that come in with the swagger of a “New Sheriff in town”. This style makes sure everyone is aware that change is needed and establishes immediate authority and accountability for the changes that will occur.

On the negative side:

  • This type of management style rarely achieves the long-term buy-in necessary to implement a CMMS because they rule by fear and intimidation.
  • Maintenance staff turnover increases because good people do not like to be threatened. This is critical as finding qualified maintenance professionals is now at an all time high in difficulty.

Facilitative Managers

This type of management style uses collaboration, employee empowerment and a commitment to training to implement change. Change is explained in a non-threatening manner that identifies the reason change is needed. It also encourages maintenance staff to participate by asking for their input, assigning teams and rewarding success. Staff and company buy-in is achieved through this management style.

On the other hand, change may occur more slowly especially if decision making is left to groups that get bogged down in lengthy discussions. In addition, the collective groups do not always listen to new ideas from staff which may result in major cost savings opportunities being missed.

Management by Coaching

The biggest problem with facilitative management is that it often misses out on the contribution that introverted or shy staff can make. Many of the best changes come from experts who are normally not sociable. Coaching management takes the time to get to know staff and encourages their participation as well as their more unique ideas for improvement.

As with the other two management styles, coaching has its limitations. Maintenance management may spend too much time with one individual leaving other staff feeling neglected or that they are creating favorites. The result is the implementation of the CMMS suffers.

Most Effective Turnaround Management Style

There is a reason that managers capable of turning around maintenance operations are difficult to find. The reason is in order to execute a turnaround, the newly hired or promoted manager needs to blend all three management styles. The authoritative manager is needed to make hard decisions, the facilitator to achieve buy-in and the coach to develop staff as well as generate new ideas.

Implementing change with a CMMS is a long term process. It requires the right people, tools and commitment.

Stuart Smith writes about Enterprise Asset Management and Computerized Maintenance Management Software Solutions for Mintek Mobile Data Solutions. Mintek’s Transcendent EAM/CMMS is a leading solution for facilities asset management.

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