1660317342384 Leadershipgoodplacetowork

3 steps to help your company become a good place to work

April 1, 2022
Tom Moriarty says sometimes that means addressing low performance, even when hiring is difficult.

Recently I was helping a specialized, highly technical service organization with improving their work management practices. During one of my discussions with a senior manager he expressed exasperation with the work ethic of a handful of the technicians on his team—the slow-walkers. The manager grumbled that the executives in the company weren’t doing enough to get the lax performance under control. This struck me as odd. Why wasn’t it his problem to solve?

Human Capital

This article is part of our monthly Human Capital column. Read more from Tom Moriarty.

There is high demand for this company’s services. The operational pace is hectic because there is so much work to be done. The problem is finding qualified persons to fill open positions. Supplementing their team with partner firms and sub-contractors is difficult because those groups have their own challenges with hiring. A fundamental component of managing this issue is by offering competitive wages and benefits. The other thing is having a reputation for being a good company to work for.

The president pays his folks well and appreciates his employees. He has a high degree of loyalty to them and assumes he will get loyalty in return; although it is not always the case. Because of the pace of work and hiring issues, the company president is reluctant to be assertive in addressing performance problems.

The operations manager and team lead have been constrained in their attempts to address the slow-walkers. When leaders do not, or are not allowed to, address performance problems two things happen. First, it encourages the slow-walkers to keep doing it and it may induce others to do it as well. Second, it is an affront to everyone that is doing their job. It may in fact result in more people being dissatisfied with the work environment. Dissatisfied workers are much more likely to leave, and highly likely to tell others that it’s not a good place to work.

Presumably, the team lead is supposed to fill a supervisor role. Although from my observations the team lead was more of a technician pitching in to get more of the service work done. If team leaders simply walk around and make sure people have what they need and make decisions quickly, it’s likely the slow-walking would be reduced or eliminated.

There also wasn’t a well-defined or documented work management process, including a set of flow charts that describe the path that a request for work follows. There needs to be standard means to identify work requests, accumulate a backlog for prioritization, plan the prioritized work, schedule the work, execute the work, have rules for break-in work, and close out the work. Good processes makes organizations more efficient, freeing labor hours to get more done.

My first recommendation was to get a well-defined work management process in place. Job plans and schedules should provide ample time and resources for high quality work to be performed. When people are pushed too hard to get things done too fast there’s a likelihood of injuries and defective work.

My second recommendation was to give the lead person clear responsibility as the supervisor. Stop being an extra technician. The supervisor’s job is to manage team performance. The operations manager and president need to support the supervisor.

A third recommendation was leadership training. Senior leaders need to be reminded how to support their leadership team. Most supervisors will be in leadership positions for more than a decade. Only one in 20 new supervisors receive leadership training before becoming a supervisor. About 50% of people in supervisor positions have never gotten leadership training or haven’t had it in over five years. Supervisors need to be professionals at leadership.

Give people a clear understanding of how things should be done. Give them time to do their work right. Be attentive to performance issues. Properly address underperformance to support those that are doing things the right way. Doing these things will increase your ability to attract and retain employees. Go forth and do great things.

This story originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

About the Author: Tom Moriarty
About the Author

Tom Moriarty | P.E., CMRP, President of Alidade MER, Inc.

Tom Moriarty, P.E., CMRP is president of Alidade MER, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in asset management, reliability engineering, and leadership improvement. He is a member of SMRP (Florida Chapter Board Member and CED Director), a past Chair of ASME’s Canaveral Florida Section, and author of the book “The Productive Leadership System; Maximizing Organizational Reliability”. He has a BSME, an MBA (organizational development), is a licensed professional engineer (PE) in Florida, and a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP). Contact him at [email protected], (321) 773-3356, or via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/alidade-mer.

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