Maintenance Supervisors and the Balancing Act

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In today’s maintenance organization the supervisor is one of the most important positions. The skill of “balancer” is essential to her/his success. The need to meet goals and initiatives set out by upper- and mid-management must be balanced with taking care of the crafts team. In other words, the daily business needs must be managed by having motivated and trained people complete their job every day every time.

Maintenance Supervisor Key Responsibilities

The Supervisor ultimately decides if Current Best Practice (CBP’s) implementation and execution will be successful in the plant. In a CBP process environment the Supervisor is contacted for all emergencies within her/his area of responsibility.

The supervisor decides how to or when to break the weekly schedule that was set at 2:00 pm the previous Thursday afternoon. This may require that the supervisor doesn’t stress out, especially when reactive work has to be balanced with the scheduled work.  

The key responsibilities of the maintenance supervisor include the following:

  • Hire and select the right craft
  • Train and develop craft
  • Promote teamwork
  • Be able to get work done through other people – execution
  • Provide performance management
  • Leadership – walk the talk and develop trust
  • Have leadership to challenge and come to agreement with managers and her/his craft people – always with the business interest in mind first
  • Administrative skills and time management
  • Leadership – the ability to create a winning culture to continuously improve and get better as a business

One misconception is that high performance teams do not need a supervisor. The supervisor is necessary to foster a high-performance team. The supervisor role may change based on the maturity of the team, as the leadership develops into coaching and facilitation of the team rather than being the “fearless” leader driving the team to success.

A supervisor must be able to execute the work process against best practices work process in maintenance that includes the following steps:

  • Work initiation
  • Approval of work
  • Prioritization
  • Planning
  • Scheduling
  • Execution
  • Recording of work in history data base
  • Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE)

IDCON has completed many assessments and the largest hurdle to overcome is execution according to best practices. As a famous Maintenance Guru said, “We can all agree to the process of maintenance, but the know-do gap is still the most difficult part” i.e. execution according to the process. Without excellent supervisors you may never overcome the know-do gap.

Owe Forsberg is Vice President of IDCON INC a Reliability and Maintenance Management Consulting and Training company. He is responsible for developing IDCON’s new educational products, implementation support for clients’ reliability and maintenance projects, and sales. He is a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) and Certified Asset Management Assessor (CAMA).

Owe Forsberg

Owe Forsberg

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