A route to better maintenance management

One constant in the world of industrial maintenance management is change. Some tidal shifts come out of the general economy, which an individual probably can't control very easily. Some changes derive from regulation the political bodies we elect to office impose on industry. Other changes have their source in the way your employer adopts to an evolving business climate.

Regardless of the external driver, anyone leading a maintenance or operations department must respond appropriately by being wise, nimble, flexible, and show leadership qualities. Knowing how to use tools to perform work is far less important than having respect, charisma, and a certain people-oriented savoir-faire.

Given that few of us have the time or inclination to immerse ourselves full-time in upgrading the management skills we might feel are a bit weak, it would be nice to have a roadmap, a reference book, “management tips for dummies” at our fingertips. Although one probably can’t find a school offering the MBA degree with a concentration in industrial maintenance, one can certainly adapt some of the management techniques coming out of Harvard University.

The Harvard Business Review, a magazine that school publishes, believes in the concept of management best practices. And it’s fortunate for us that some of those practices are available free of charge at the associated website, www.hbr.org.

Go there and explore the section called “Best Practices.” For example, the site offers tips about knowing how to give your boss feedback, how to handle layoffs, how to foster a cooperative culture, how to make operational innovation work, and how to get your team unstuck after it bogs down on something. If you can handle these “soft” skills with aplomb, you should do well vis-à-vis the corporate restructuring that could engulf anyone working in the manufacturing industry.

After exploring these best practices, you might want to share your own best practices with your peers by entering the Plant Services Best Practice Award program. All you need is a good story and the right to tell it. Get full details at www.plantservices.com/bestpractices/index.html. We’d love to hear from you.