Survival: This is just another reason why you gotta’ love and appreciate your maintenance people just like we do firefighters or military personnel. Over the past 43 years, I have come to love the person who can fix things. This is for several important reasons:
- I survived Vietnam in 1970-1971 because of good maintenance of our engineer equipment and especially our communication assets. And then for 25 more years in the Corps of Engineers and Military Police branches, maintenance and parts were always a top priority.
- I survived a tour of duty as a manufacturing plant manager due to good engineering support, excellent maintenance, plus a good vibration analysis contractor.
- Lastly, I have survived 47-plus years of “marital bliss” by not being a multi-skilled handyman, but by having on call good local plumbers, electricians and HVAC techs.
The Maintenance Crisis: Now as we see the supply of good maintenance people rapidly declining, we begin to appreciate them so much more. As my friend, Joel Leonard, “The Maintenance Evangelist,” literally preaches, “We have a real maintenance crisis in America!” I also consider our work at The Maintenance Excellence Institute as “maintenance missionary” work, too. And as I travel (everywhere it seems) to teach and consult worldwide, the same thing applies wherever I go across almost 50 countries now. There is really a maintenance skills crisis, especially in emerging countries without many of the technical education resources that we now have in America. This is a game breaker for some, even in America, and a pot of gold for good and even bad maintenance contractors. Many times, a true maintenance leader can make it all work, but I also see somewhat of a crisis across the leadership side of maintenance almost everywhere.
Maintenance Leadership: To keep good maintenance people, we must be good maintenance leaders. So what are 10 good ways to be a true maintenance leader so we can keep, develop and attract more good maintenance people?
- Lead and do not follow while managing and maintaining the status quo.
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- Remember the other Golden Rule: Those who have the gold rule!
- Skilled technical people are the most important maintenance resource.
- Respect each and every technician, regardless of their current ability.
- Practice positive reinforcement and positive expectancy with positive expectations at all times.
- Retire if you do not have PRIDE in maintenance as a profession.
- Inspire People Really Interested in Developing Excellence in maintenance.
- If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
- Never Ever Give Up!*, if you are a true maintenance leader. (*Winston Churchill and Jim Valvano)
Let It Be: There is an old story about two young boys (called whipper-snappers in Southern terms) testing the proven wisdom of a very wise and blind old man in their small village. They came to him one day to test him with a small baby sparrow firmly clutched within their little hands. Of course, the wise old man could not see the little baby bird, even if he had sight. They then confidently asked him, “Is this bird in my hand dead or alive, Mr. Wise Old Man?” Without hesitation, the wise old man said, “As you choose, so let it be!”
So yes, we all have choices and I say to you, “Let it be a true maintenance leader”.
Ralph “Pete” Peters is a highly recognized author-trainer and leader around the World in the areas of implementing maintenance and manufacturing best practices, developing effective productivity measurement systems and initiating long term sustainable operational improvement processes. Pete is the Founder and President of The Maintenance Excellence Institute, a consulting and training service focused on maintenance process improvement in all types of operations within both the public and private sectors.