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Many maintenance and engineering managers broke into the profession with their current employer, beginning their careers in the trades working on the front lines.
With time, they became supervisors and moved up through the ranks to manage their departments. This in-house progression is fairly common within the profession. But, of course, many managers do switch jobs to seek new opportunities.
Making that jump does come with some risk. Managers who inherit a new department can only know so much about the way previous managers conducted business. Often, they take on unresolved issues that have caused the organization headaches for years.
When John Muir arrived at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Unified School District as the director of building services, he understood the challenges his department would face from Day 1 — specifically, dilapidated roofing systems.
It would have been understandable if Muir had blamed his predecessors for the roof failures. After all, it was not his fault the district had an ineffective preventive maintenance (PM) program and failed to fix leaks.
But not once in my conversation with Muir for this month's Project Profile did he bemoan previous management or make excuses.
Muir's attitude, and the change of culture he has established among front-line staff, have paid dividends over the last five years. Taxpayers have responded to the need for infrastructure improvements by passing bonds for re-roofing projects and other energy-saving initiatives, and PM is now a priority, rather than an afterthought.
Muir was not responsible for the condition of roofs when he arrived at the district. But he relished the opportunity to fix them, which is a great way to make a positive first impression on a new employer — and customers.
Chris Matt offers insights gleaned from conversations with managers who make key maintenance and engineering decisions in commercial and institutional facilities.
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