Often, the most challenging personnel issue facing maintenance and engineering managers is motivating front-line technicians to perform their duties effectively and efficiently.
In many institutional and commercial facilities, budget limits, time constraints, and expanding workloads often conspire to create a less-than-productive workforce. The results are wasted resources, ineffective repairs, unsatisfied customers, and larger backlogs of work. But there is more at work here than those issues, as you will see.
Managers who have faced motivational problems undoubtedly have wondered, "What can I do now? The customers are unhappy, everyone is moving in slow motion, everything is breaking around us, and the work is mounting. It's hopeless." Before we to figure out ways to correct the problem, let's discuss the way this problem affects different organizations. I am sure some of you already are thinking about the so-called union effect on technician morale and motivation.
This discussion can have two different scenarios. In the first, you came on board as manager and already had a union, as well as the problems I mentioned in the first paragraph. In the second scenario, you already were employed as a manager when union the was voted into your facility.
Here's my take on it: Most unions where voted into place because of management problems. The real issue was a severe lack of quality leadership. In other words, if workers voted a union into a non-union facility, the organization probably deserved it. That view might be harsh, but why else would workers want to organize if there weren't problems?
The first scenario noted earlier — the union was there when you took the job — is fairly simple to address. Roll up your sleeves, put basic leadership programs and policies in place, and see what you can accomplish.
The second scenario is more difficult. You'll need to access your leadership team and ensure you have the best possible leaders in place. Then you can get to work. You must correct the management and leadership problems before you can make changes in the ranks.
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