Tips Maintenance Planning - Maintenance Cruz
Are You Sure the Work Got Done?
It is a good question and one that no manager I have ever known could say yes too. You build a good program maybe even a great program, but your workers may still be cutting corners or outright lying about their tasks. This sounds harsh and most believe they would catch such blatant laziness and lying, but they don't.
I know this because I have seen this first hand and have caught many techs shorting the procedures or pencil whipping forms. I don't think managers are oblivious to the facts just oblivious to admitting the issue. The paperwork is turned in and the month end numbers are looking good so rocking the boat will expose some seriously nasty truths. The first being that the manager did not know what was going on under his or her nose.
I have meet and am a manager that is not afraid to face this issue or even admit that my crew has been pulling one over on me. I end a confession like that with "but I will fix it" and I do. I really only know of one way to assure that my personnel are actually doing the work and that is to regularly check.
Many would call it micromanaging and I agree to a point. I only call it micromanaging because you are looking at the details thoroughly. It is guaranteed that if there are not some kind of checks being done that something is going to get put off or brushed over. Most managers have so much on their plates that they have no time whatsoever to watch their people.
There are items in your maintenance plan that are critical or safety related and there are others that rate somewhere down the scale on importance. You start by ensuring that the top priority items are absolutely one hundred percent completed and checked. These are items you can not entrust to any one persons honor or discretion due to the nature of importance. You have a guy who does the same PM on the flammable systems every month and has been bored with it for the last six. He stopped checking many items a long time ago and just checks them off. How and when will you find out this has been happening? When you have a major breakdown or a major fire?
It sounds like I don't trust anybody....and I don't. I am definitely not a paranoid person, but the nature of people dictates that they must be checked. People get lazy or complacent with things at home and at work all the time. Man, I really need to mow the lawn but I just haven't felt like doing it or I put it off too long and now it is broken. They normally tell you this during a round of golf so where are their priorities.
I am not saying that people are liars or lazy in general I am saying the path of least resistance becomes very appealing. How do you know when one of your people has decided that the equipment doesn't need to be lubed as often so now they don't have to pack the grease gun up the ladder? Unless you or your appointed lead person climbs that ladder before and after the alleged maintenance you won't know.
There are many ways to just spot check your people here and there and that is also effective, but only if they know you are going to do it and you actually do it. Threats are useless, but a solid knowledge that your work may get double checked today and definitely will be checked at some point increases the probability that the work will get down. Without something of this nature taking place your are playing russian roulette with your system, safety, and equipment.
There are processes out there that are highly regulated by a governing body and even those can be pencil whipped. There has been plenty of evidence of this over the years, BP comes to mind. I like to know that what I am asking for is being fulfilled and that I can trust my crew. I will never know if I actually have a trustworthy crew unless I personally see the completed work. I can see immediately if the work has been done and how much care was taken, it tells me a lot about a specific persons work ethic.
This is food for thought from my experience. I have seen all sorts over the years from guys who really didn't care, ones that really thought they were doing a proper job and weren't, and top notch guys who take pride in what they do.
This can be a double edge sword in that if your technicians do not have the proper amount of time to complete the work you have set the stage for missed items. I see this as a cause more than I ever see bad uncaring technicians. Evaluating work loads and task assignments is a long tedious process that requires a great deal of thought and experiment. This hardly ever happens as management expects a maintenance plan immediately and they rarely get full audits with serious changes. Plans may evolve over time as technician bring forward the information, but how long has this been happening?
No plan is perfect and neither are technicians or managers for that matter, but a logical plan with real world expectations from the outset coupled with checks will yield real work. It seems there is always a compromise here another compromise there and it is unavoidable most the time, but you have to pick and choose those compromises very carefully. Forcing the importance of work that takes away work time or concentration on real top priority items is a huge mistake.
You see this all the time and usually driven by someone in upper management that doesn't like some numbers and demands that more manpower be devoted somewhere else. The manager is usually stuck between a rock and a hard place here and he more than likely understands the ramifications. He knows that he has now lost the downtime hours he used to check the safety system they way it is supposed to be checked. Now man hours are shuffled and the system is checked half as much as is used to be or less, this happens all the time.
What is the answer...I don't know to tell you the truth...for me I pretty much ignore the pressure and ensure the high priority items remain high priority and will have to face the music on the other stuff. Sounds like a sure fire way to get fired but I have done it for years and have a clear conscious knowing that I did the proper thing. I made sure that the safety remained priority one under me and always will. I also have always checked on my people and made sure they knew I was doing it. I also explain my reasoning behind it and usually get that look, the look that says "that's a wise thing to do". Ask any tech if he or she has known a pencil whipper or worked with someone who didn't do their job. After you listen to their stories you will probably feel a little queasy and wonder what is really going on.