Tom Peters (fantastic stuff, read his books if you get a chance) put this idea into my head a while ago. And the more I think about it, the more I agree with his point. Talent, your talent, is not something that grows on trees these days. Good people are hard to find, and – of course – the number of good opportunities for them to choose from – are getting easier to find.

Whether you are a manager of a maintenance department, a consultancy, or a maintenance-contracting firm, you MUST take care of your brand. That means that when people talk about your team, (or your services) they do so in glowing terms.

They know you, they know what to expect from you, and they know that if they call you – they will get a good job – every time. Don’t be fooled, this applies even if you are an internal maintenance manager!

And in maintenance and reliability, whoever you are, your brand comes from service. The right people, doing the right work, with the right level of attention and courtesy, and the right (HIGH) level of professionalism….

And the driving force for that – are your people! Your people are your brand… whether it’s the lubrication guy, the vibration analyst, the RCM Facilitator – or the mechanical integrity inspector – your people (their abilities, manner and integrity) determine how others see your department, company or contract services.

Sure, there are issues around selection, hiring and finding good people – as well as keeping them - but let’s deal with that another time.

Once you have them, you have to make darn sure they are up to the standard that your brand demands!

This means development!

Developing Talent

When I worked as an electrical fitter the (banal) argument against training was “but we are just training them for other employers – so they can leave”. Maybe… but what if you don’t train them and they stay?

So let's say we agree that Training is probably a wise thing to do. (And not regularly but obsessively)

What does that mean? What's training? Well.... There's all the standard stuff - internal and public courses - methodologies, vendor based, and specialist based. And then there's a whole other area...
  • Mentoring - a structured approach to get the wiser hands to transfer their knowledge to the less experienced.
  • Bar Raising - found a resource with good talent? Give her a chance to improve via added responsibility/higher profile/more complex work. Create the environment and watch them rise to the occasion.
  • Got retiring workers? Use them to form an Alumni network - a network of part time mentors / trainers and coaches that you can call on to transmit the wisdon of the company..
  • Transfers - Send them to another department, company, plant - whatever. Give them the chance to grow in their knowledge of different parts of the company, and set them a goal ( a real one) of how to bring it back into this company
  • Promote them - Put them up two or three levels at once. Instead of years working to get a small promotion - make them an example. Put them over the heads of people who are working against the change, and into a situagtion they do not really control. They will swim well or sink fantastically. (Which is great)
  • Reward failure - Big one! Challenge them, make it hard, watch them stretch for the goal, and reward them for failure. It is far better to try $100% and fail, than to try 30% and succeed.


The knowledge and abilities of your people, and your ability to continually develop and upgrade that talent - will determine the brand of your company, department or section. To do this consistently, and to continually keep one step ahead of the competition... then training needs to be an obsessions in your company... not a cost center.