By Michael Cowley
Maintenance & Operations Article Use Policy
The most important factors on my list are authority and responsibility. These factors demonstrate to most employees that the organization truly needs them and that their knowledge and performance are critical. As a result, these factors can motivate an individual to do more and perform at the highest possible level.
I have always believed in delegating as much authority as possible. The more a manager delegates authority to subordinates, the more work will get done, and often the work is done better, and the happier employees are. Most employees truly enjoy more authority, and they respect you as the leader more for having the trust and faith in their ability and performance.
Keep in mind, though, that I did not say to delegate responsibility. Managers can share some responsibility but can never delegate all responsibility to a subordinate. The buck has to stop in the manager’s lap.
When you begin to delegate authority, you also need to install systems to ensure the process is working as you designed it. Remember President Reagan’s advice about the former Soviet Union during negotiations over nuclear weapons: “Trust but verify.” Do not set up employees for failure. Put the appropriate checks, balances and audits in place to ensure everything works well.
Things have changed a great deal since I started working as a maintenance engineer in 1978. Back in those days, we had pension plans, retirement plans, and health care coverage that continued for life after we retired. Now what do technicians have? None of the above, unless they work for the government. One of the new motivators is health care coverage, which brings us full circle to money as a motivator. My wife is considering retiring early, which is great but probably will cost us $12,000 per year to cover the basic health care requirements. Health care coverage is a motivator for many employees and families.
Managers as leadersWe have discussed the physiological components of technician motivation and the accountability systems that will ensure success if the discipline is in place to accurately measure leadership and management performance. These two components of good leadership are missing in most of today’s organizations. The basic guidelines ensure that technicians have the discipline to do things as assigned and scheduled.
If managers do not have the basic leadership knowledge and ability to lead, guide, and develop employees, what do we do? The only answer is to properly manage them. Notice that I did not say lead them. If we don’t have the skills to properly lead them, then we need to figure out how to manage them.
The key to success in this regard is to have a regimented system in place that instructs and schedules the daily activities of each and every technician that works within our organization. We accomplish this by having the people and skills in place to plan and schedule 80-90 percent of each technician’s daily workload. Individual technicians do not self-direct the daily workload. Instead, a full-time maintenance planner or a member of management assigns the workload.
As many of you who have read my articles and tips of the month know, one of the biggest shortages in this country today involves leadership. We have plenty of managers but very few true leaders. It takes a good leader to properly develop and lead a team of subordinates. This process of leading and developing includes designing a system, process and atmosphere that will allow employees to motivate themselves to perform at the highest possible level. The key is to constantly lead, guide and coach to help them be the best they can be.
I found an interesting quote about motivation from Farrah Gray: “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” A manager’s job is to assist employees in building their dreams. That is the function of a good leader.
Motivation, Productivity and the Role of Leaders in Maintenance
Maintenance Leadership: Delegating Authority Leads to Happier Employees