Real stories of hiring planners and what you can learn

May 8, 2018
Doc Palmer says provide the support and resources your planners need to ensure planning success.

The following stories of selecting planners come from some of the plants I’ve worked with over the years. They illustrate that understanding the skills required helps a company create a suitable planner position and select a capable person for a successful planning program. Generally, a planner should have good craft skills, data organizing skills, and communication skills. It’s possible to be weak on craft skills and still be a good planner, because no single person can be as smart as the cumulative wisdom and experience of 20 to 30 craftspersons. Nevertheless, being weak on craft skills makes it more difficult to gain the respect of the craftspersons. Plants should make the planner position at least at the level of the first line crew supervisor to show support and to keep the best persons as planners.

At another plant, a young engineer who had only been out of school for a couple of years was hired as the planner. This particular person was extremely friendly and earnestly sought the opinions of craftspersons for plan content. His excellent communication skills, which included a good dose of humility, allowed him to work with the crafts and be a successful planner. He also brought great data skills to the maintenance group, which supported not only electronic job planning but also aiding all of the crafts with their computer needs. It certainly helped that the company promoted planning as a critical program and the way it was going to do business. Eventually the plant promoted the planner to be one of its maintenance managers.

Another plant had an especially old workforce. The plant started planning by hiring a 25-year-old mechanic who was presented as a “craft historian” who would save information that the mechanics thought should be saved. One of the mechanics spoke up and said “You know, we’ve been here our entire careers, and ….” You just knew he was going to say they didn’t need any young person telling them what to do. But instead, he continued: “We really think that this is a good idea. We hate the thought of everything we’ve learned over the years being forgotten.” This plant achieved victory by establishing the planner as a craft historian who could run an improvement cycle rather than someone who was going to tell mechanics how to do their jobs.

These stories show key aspects of establishing and staffing the planner position. Make the planner position desirable enough that you can attract and keep the best individuals as planners. Pick the right persons by taking into account their craft, data, and communication skills. In doing so, you’ll be on your way to making a great maintenance planning program a reality.

About the Author

Doc Palmer | PE, MBA, CMRP

Doc Palmer, PE, MBA, CMRP is the author of McGraw-Hill’s Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook and as managing partner of Richard Palmer and Associates helps companies worldwide with planning and scheduling success. For more information including online help and currently scheduled public workshops, visit www.palmerplanning.com or email Doc at [email protected]. Also visit and subscribe to www.YouTube.com/@docpalmerplanning.

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