Every successful facility has an effective maintenance team working tirelessly behind the scenes. And behind every successful maintenance team is a manager who knows how to inspire them.
In 31 Ways to Motivate Your Maintenance Department we explored ways to make your team more productive. Here, we take a deeper dive into essential tips for motivating and boosting the performance of your maintenance staff. From skill-building to CMMS software and adoption of the preventive maintenance model, these seven tips will get your facility running more smoothly.
1. Encourage Self-Motivation
Too many managers assume that bringing out a team’s best comes down to rewards and punishments. However, according to author Daniel H. Pink, it’s not that simple. In his bestselling Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he explores surprising discoveries in the science of motivation. It turns out that people aren’t motivated primarily by money or even praise — they instead crave independence, a chance to improve their skills, and a sense of purpose at work. Maintenance managers who micromanage can make their technicians feel like cogs in a machine rather than trusted professionals.
Maintenance managers need to give their staff autonomy while at the same time holding them accountable to clear expectations. You give them the what and the by-when and they decide on the how. You tell them what needs to be fixed and to what standards, but let them decide the best route to those goals. Once they develop a sense of ownership over tasks and projects, they'll push themselves to succeed, especially when that means developing new skills.
2. Be Open to New Techniques and Technologies
Maintenance has a direct impact on the bottom line. Everything has to shut down every time a machine is adjusted or repaired, which chips away at profits.
Maintenance departments need to be on the lookout for new ways to solve old problems. Even small adjustments can add up to big savings in time and money. For example, the department can use a tighter calibration standard than required when adjusting machinery. Being open to suggestions from your maintenance technicians is important. Because they spend the most time with the equipment and assets, they can often come up with clever, practical modifications that speed up time-consuming tasks — such as installing an access point above a gear set so it can easily be checked for wear, rather than having to disassemble the whole machine.
Being as prepared as possible makes life easier for everyone involved when it comes to emergency maintenance. Discuss common machine failures with your team and create work orders in advance, making sure spare parts are available and easily accessible. Many CMMS software applications make it possible for users to identify and report on both failure and repair frequency, with the ability to create standardized work order templates. Being prepared for a problem puts you about halfway to fixing it.
3. Invest in CMMS Software
If you’re still using pen and paper or spreadsheets instead of a CMMS (computerized maintenance management system), it’s difficult to implement new maintenance techniques effectively. No matter how innovative your team’s ideas are, your slow and error-prone system is going to hold you back. Aside from the benefits a CMMS provides for preventive maintenance, consider emergencies involving critical equipment breakdowns. Without a centralized maintenance database, you'll find yourself rummaging through filing cabinets and storage bins for operation and maintenance (O&M) manuals, before sending maintenance personnel scrambling to the storage room to find parts. Analog, decentralized approaches slow response times. You take longer to repair equipment and get it back online.
A CMMS combined with a preventative maintenance program helps maintenance departments prepare for emergencies. CMMS software solutions empower maintenance managers with instant access to work orders, tasks, equipment details, and spare parts from any desktop or mobile device. Work orders can then be assigned to maintenance staff, who receive an alert on their phone, tablet, or computer. They can locate the equipment in need of repair on an interactive floor map, click on it, and instantly retrieve a complete list of parts and where they’re stored. Whether it’s for on-demand or preventive maintenance, tasks can be scheduled, tracked, and parts inventory can be monitored.
4. Use Data to Your Advantage
As a maintenance manager, if you’ve been storing scores of information — work orders, invoices, time sheets, and employee productivity records — in a filing cabinet or spreadsheet, it's a struggle to make sense of it all. However, there is a way to get this information working for you. Once it's entered into a CMMS, you can start making data-driven decisions.
The reporting capabilities of a CMMS make it easy to analyze any aspect of your maintenance records, such as costs, staff information, vendor pricing, and repair history. You can also identify problem areas for individual team members and provide more training. CMMS software also gives you the data-backed insights you need to make important decisions about repairing or replacing equipment and assets.
5. Adopt a Preventive Maintenance Schedule
If you’re constantly reacting to emergencies in real-time, you never have time to think ahead. Whether you’re running around to patch walls and fix pipes in a commercial building or adjusting temperamental machines in a manufacturing plant — dealing with emergency repairs doesn’t leave much time for preventative maintenance.
This can be a hard trap to get out of, but a CMMS can help you monitor and improve planning by providing instant and updated access to critical work orders and incidents. Most importantly, the software's features allow maintenance managers to plan ahead and reduce reactive repairs. This can be done by using the CMMS to schedule preventative tune-ups and inspections — spreading the tasks out based on priority. When the department isn't constantly scrambling, everyone is less stressed and more effective.
6. Enforce Positive Accountability
Accountability is too often misunderstood to mostly mean punishment. An accountable workforce does the best it can, accepting both successes and mistakes.
As author Randy Pennington recommends in HR Magazine, accept that most of your employees want to do good work and have a positive impact. CMMS software can help managers build a truly accountable team by creating data-rich charts and meaningful, timely reports on maintenance operations and KPIs (key performance indicators). From there, areas of improvement can be identified and addressed constructively. Access to predictive and preventative maintenance tools through a CMMS enables your team to monitor equipment, offer input, and reduce downtime. On-demand work order software also allows them to close out more task before having to check back at the office, making them more productive.
7. Don’t Forget Breaks
There’s nothing counter-intuitive about the benefits of taking a bit of time and stepping away from a task. In fact, breaks lead to better results and job satisfaction. They help alleviate aches and pains, clear the cobwebs, and provide perspective. But they should be too long. Taking shorter, more frequent breaks is better than one long one in the afternoon.
A CMMS can make it easier to divide up the day so that both you and your staff can stop for a bit and catch your breath. The software gives you complete control over when work is assigned, to whom, and with what deadlines. Instead of handing a stack of work orders to your team, you can spread the tasks out in a way that doesn’t make them feel overwhelmed. Improved workload clarity makes scheduling breaks easier.
The best maintenance managers know the difference between working harder and working smarter — it’s all about experience, staying open and proactive, and using the right tools. When properly integrated, a CMMS provides you with more insight, which makes your team more productive by making their workday more satisfying, better organized, and less stressful.
Download our free CMMS guide to learn how our maintenance software will transform the way you do business.