Over the years, I've written numerous columns addressing the major day-to-day challenges facing maintenance and engineering managers, but I've never directly addressed the more personal side of a manager's job — the people.
Many companies say their employees are their most important assets, and a few have been recognized for outstanding employee engagement. I want to share with you a few things I've seen in my career that the best-performing organizations have in common when it comes to successfully managing people.
First, managers need to have a true belief that employees make an organization great. Based on industry research and my own experience, the No. 1 motivation for employees is feeling a part of and contributing to an organization. Some people argue that money is a motivator, but in reality, money is only a stimulator — a short-term gain that creates no lasting results.
One of the most influential people in my career was a gentleman who started a company in his garage and built it into a business with 600-plus employees. Every Thursday, he walked around and personally handed out each paycheck so he could get face time with every employee.
He had a way of making people feel good about working, and he made sure you felt you were a valued employee. He also sent each employee a birthday card with a handwritten message wishing a happy birthday and saying how much he appreciated the employee's efforts.
Those two small things made more than 600 people feel incredibly special. They would do anything for this man. It was one of the best places I have ever worked.
Take the story above, and apply that management style to your daily and weekly activities. As a manager, you will be surprised at what you find out directly from the people.
Face to face communication is the most effective tool managers have, but amazingly, e-mail appears to be the most popular choice. By getting out of the office and talking to building occupants and staff, managers create an opportunity for technicians to offer suggestions on deferred maintenance risks, safety issues, and, of course, complaints. They come with the territory.
In industry, we use the term "gemba," which translates as "the real place." Gemba refers to the place where value is created. A true leader or manager takes the gemba walk, listens for that feedback and takes action. As my mother said, "Actions speak louder than words."
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