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Not to me, necessarily. Sure, my editorial in our July/August 2016 issue advised maintenance and engineering managers to devote more time to seeking input from their departments’ front-line technicians, supervisors, and administrators.
Well, it turns out many of you already had been listening.
For a question on our recent survey on personnel management issues, 41.6 percent of respondents said they address the issue of employee motivation — the second largest personnel challenge that respondents identified — by seeking input. The tactic of asking for staff input was far more popular than other tactics, including public recognition and even money. (We’ll report in an upcoming issue on the results of the personnel management survey.)
This survey finding is heartening, in part because talking and listening are not skills generally associated with front-line technicians and managers. Many facility executives and occupants still tend to view managers as overseers of a necessary evil — maintenance — and building occupants tend to think of technicians only when the roof leaks or their work spaces are too hot or too cold.
Reality, of course, tells us something else. Managers are responsible for key departments that play a central role in the safe, reliable and energy-efficient operation of their organizations’ in-place assets. Technicians handle heavy daily workloads by using their skills, experience and deep knowledge of facilities and equipment to assess and troubleshoot an array of issues.
Next comes the hard part. The logical extension of seeking input is for managers to do something with what they hear. Technicians will truly be motivated when they see that their ideas and insights have helped shape and launch new policies and programs in the department and beyond.