Maintenance Managers: Stop Being Fed Crumbs from Above


Being a professional manager of a maintenance department is hard work. The profession can bruise your ego, undermine your confidence and wear down your enthusiasm. For those of you who are feeling a little burnt out, and tired of getting no help from upper management I offer this blog.

You are constantly asked to reduce cost, reduce FTE, reduce over head, AND reduce downtime. You want to scream out, “I’ve got 500 hundred problems and five guys.” Certainly, the implication of this statement is intended to represent an overload. I understand it because I speak “maintenance.”

However, the only way for a person who doesn’t speak maintenance to solve a riddle such as this is to insert some assumed variables of their own. Numbers, or data, out of context have no meaning. Data needs to be framed, related and/or compared to some known quantity. If this is all the data given to your manager to answer the question ‘what is happening in the maintenance department’ you might come away with four guys and 500 problems!

So, how do you teach someone to speak ‘maintenance’? You do it by feeding them maintenance information. Information is the presentation of data which is relevant, precise and accurately framed in a context that is readily understandable by the intended target. This information should be fed on a regular basis and on your schedule.

The fact that you were asked for information puts you immediately in a defensive position. As a line manager you are responsible for supplying upper management with data driven information they can use to make their decisions. Had you said “I have 5 maintenance guys and 500 labors hours scheduled to be completed this week” you would have communicated. By switching “jobs” to “labor hours” and framing the report with “one week” you changed data to information. The receiver of this new statement could do the math and realize that you have a lack of personnel resources.

Once you start supplying valuable, meaningful information up the food chain you will start receiving more than just the crumbs from above.