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Maintenance Department Capabilities

A Guide for Maintenance Managers

Have you ever evaluated your Internal Strength and Potential? Let me explain what this really is, so you can determine if you have or can evaluate your department. Internal Strength is what you have now within your staff and budget. Potential is what your staff can do if trained and equipped properly. These steps help you evaluate what strengths you have and what potentials can be added to your strengths. Let’s look at a few items that can help you determine where to go.

First, look at each maintenance technician for what they can do, have done, been trained in or have some experience with. This can be physical work, higher education, leadership, personality, passions and more. Once you compile this data, you need to determine if you are utilizing them appropriately. While compiling information, it is a great time to ask what they like doing in their position and what they may want to be trained in to expand their worth. You, as the manager, must evaluate and best use each member of your staff to accomplish the tasks set before you. As you evaluate, you are only looking at the strengths you have, but also need to focus on what potential each employee has. Utilizing an outside professional to train your staff is always a bonus; since they will bring experience and knowledge that you or your staff doesn’t have yet. Evaluations can be done jointly with an outside consultant or done 100% by the consultant. You need to determine how this process will work for you and how to manage it.

Secondly, you need to document everything related to experience, education, Atta-Boys, certifications, training and their resume that got them the job. This will give you, and the future manager, a reference to the abilities and experience of this employee. You currently keep a personnel file, which has some of this but also has disciplinary and other work evaluations. This file needs to be a list of qualifications and experience, with future goals, similar to what a company or individual might give you when being evaluated to contract for a project or service. Also, inside this folder should be the areas they will get training in and a time frame for completion. These future plans are for turning a Potential into a Strength.

In the 2 areas covered above, there was no mention of what tools are available for them to perform their work. What are you requiring of them and what tools to they have to accomplish the tasks? Do you have any specialty tools in your locker that they use? Do you know the physical condition of their tools or any other equipment that they use? Some Potentials may just need a tool not in your department, that will then become a Strength.

The reason for this article is to be ready to take on more, not all, work that needs to be done. Contractors should not do all of your work, but you can’t live without them either. This is the Liability/Capability Evaluation. Contractors hold certifications and licenses that are essential for some work. Is it worth having a staff member get the certification or license to perform the task or hire a contractor? What liability do you want to carry when it comes to tasks or projects? A few areas that come to mind that are typically left to a licensed professional are High Voltage Work, Boiler Repair, Refrigeration or Chiller Repair/Maintenance and some building envelope items. This is not a complete list, but there are areas where relying on a contractor is in your best interest. There are times when your financial situation will require your department to take on items in areas that were previously done by an outside contractor. By preparing your department to move in this direction, you will have options and opportunity to manage the financial hurdles with your Internal Strengths.

This article is a compressed version of a process and only a tip of the iceberg on what can be done to grow your strengths. Get to know your staff and have fun with the challenges of growth potential within maintenance management.

The Author of this article is Brian Sartin, QCxP of Facility Management Consulting, Inc. of Zeeland, Michigan. Brian has been in the maintenance field for over 35 years.

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