What to Do When the Bar Moves for Your Maintenance Team

If there’s one thing maintenance managers understand, it’s that things can change quickly. And it’s not just asset breakdowns or emergency repairs. Many maintenance teams are experiencing big changes in expectations from leadership, while trying to cope with fewer resources at the same time.

What used to be simple—“Hey, this broke, call the maintenance department”—is now much more complicated. New ideas and technology mean today’s maintenance department looks very different from the maintenance departments of 20 years ago.

It can feel overwhelming.

So, what do you do when it feels like the bar moved?

Step 1: Identify What’s Changed

The maintenance team used to be ignored—until something broke. Now something’s changed—but do you know what it is? Have expectations changed? Are your managers asking different questions? Are your customers expecting different information or data?

Take the time to identify what’s different.

Step 2: Determine Why It’s Changed

It’s important to understand why things have changed. Start looking for the obvious reasons. (Often it boils down to money.) Why are your managers or customers asking for something different? Is your team being held accountable in new ways?

Dig deeper to determine why things are different.

Step 3: Take Stock of What You Have

You have resources—employees, supplies, inventory, and (most importantly) experts you can call when you need help or advice. Make a list of your key resources. Start with your current allies, vendors, and other professional contacts in the maintenance field.

Step 4: Decide What You Need

Make a list of things you need to manage these changes—including training, equipment, software, workflows, and other resources. Ask other maintenance professionals how they are coping with similar issues (because you are not alone). Check out our Needs Assessment blog series for more help.

Step 5: Make a Plan

Strategize about new workflows and processes, adjustments in data collection or software, and training plans. Create a timeline with goal-based milestones and efficiency goals. And, last but not least, hand off certain responsibilities to other people who can help.

When it feels like the bar has moved, take a closer look at your maintenance operations, and be honest about what you find. It will help you adapt, re-focus, and reconfigure your workflows and benchmarks, and then determine where adjustments can be made.

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