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7 Tips For Managing Your Maintenance Team

By Margeaux Girardin | June 22, 2016

Every successful organization has an effective maintenance team behind the scenes, tweaking and repairing the tools and facilities we all depend on. And behind every successful maintenance team is a maintenance manager who knows how to inspire workers to give their best.

In February we wrote a post on 31 ways to motivate your maintenance department, providing unique ways to make your team more productive. In our latest post we focus on seven ways to boost your maintenance team's performance beyond simple team building initiatives. Read on to learn what you can do to up your maintenance team’s game and get your facility running even more efficiently than it currently is.

1. Enhance Motivation

Many managers assume that rewarding good results and discouraging bad results is the key to getting the best out of your team. But in his bestselling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel H. Pink highlights some surprising discoveries in the science of motivation. It turns out that people aren’t primarily motivated by monetary rewards or praise, as economists have traditionally believed. Instead, they’re motivated by autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose in their work. In other words, to be effective, workers need to be independent, have the chance to improve their skills, and feel their job is worthwhile,

“The problem,” writes Pink, “is that most businesses haven’t caught up to this new understanding of what motivates us.” Maintenance managers who micromanage workers can deprive them of both autonomy and the opportunity for mastery, making them feel like parts of a machine rather than trusted professionals, and this tends to get poorer results.

Maintenance managers need to give workers the chance to build new skills and direct their own actions, while holding them accountable for getting the job done. Make the results you want clear, but give workers the freedom to refine their skills or bring their own ideas to the table. You’ll be surprised by the results!

2. Be Open to New Techniques and Technologies

As the study of psychology and management grows alongside daily advancements in technology, maintenance management best practices can always be improved. This is especially true in an industrial setting, where maintenance has a direct impact on the bottom line. Part of the line has to be shut down every time a machine is adjusted or repaired, so innovative approaches to maintenance can save money and reduce production delays.

Using an Integrated Machine Management approach can help. Organizations should look for ways to decrease frequency of maintenance, such as by using a tighter calibration standard than is required when adjusting machinery. In some cases, maintenance managers can also direct workers to make modifications to speed up time-consuming tasks — for example, by installing an access above a gearset that needs to be checked frequently for wear, so the whole machine doesn’t have to be completely disassembled each time.

As a maintenance manager, you should also prepare for emergencies ahead of time. Brainstorm possible mechanical failures and write out work orders. Make sure the spare parts are on hand, and stored in an easily accessible area. If something goes wrong, you’ll be able to react calmly and quickly to get key systems back online.

3. Invest in CMMS Software

If you’re still using binders or spreadsheets, it’s very hard to use new maintenance techniques and technologies effectively -- and in the case of something suddenly going wrong, things can get messy.

If you prepare emergency instructions without building maintenance software, they’ll probably end up stuck in the back of a folder or the middle of a spreadsheet. In an emergency, you’ll have to waste precious time finding the work order, rummaging through your files for parts lists and operational manuals and sending workers to the storage room to dig for parts; it could take an hour or more just to find the information and parts needed for the repair.

A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) puts all the information you need at your fingertips. In an emergency, Hippo CMMS software enables a maintenance manager to instantly access prepared work orders from any device. They could then assign those tasks to maintenance staff members, who would immediately receive alerts on their phone, tablet or computer.

The workers could click on the broken machine in the interactive floor plan in Hippo Dashboards, instantly retrieving a complete list showing all the needed parts, and where they are stored. They’d have all the information they needed inside of a minute, and be ready to start repairs as quickly as they could run over to the storage area.

And CMMS software isn’t just useful for emergencies — it dramatically speeds and simplifies preventive and routine maintenance as well. Managers can create repeated tasks that are automatically assigned and tracked, ensuring no one ever forgets to do a tune-up. And the inventory management system sends automatic alerts to the maintenance manager when spare parts run low, ensuring you’ll never run out of important components.


4. Use Data to Your Advantage

Maintenance managers automatically store tons of information that could be used to improve their workflow. There are work orders that show every time a piece of equipment was fixed, invoices that show changing costs and timesheets that track employee wages, productivity and overtime. Unfortunately, if it’s all sitting in a spreadsheet or filing cabinet, that information isn’t doing any good. Analyzing it would be too difficult and time consuming to be worthwhile.

Don’t throw that information away -- put it to work. With maintenance software you can use your records to improve your team. Hippo Reports generates charts that make it easy to analyze any aspect of your maintenance records. You can look at maintenance costs, staff performance, vendor pricing, repair history and more. If a worker has been under performing, you can spot the problem and give them more training. If a machine has been repeatedly breaking down, you’ll know it’s time to replace it. And when you try out a new technology or technique, you’ll be able to test exactly how well it works.

5. Adopt a Preventive Maintenance Schedule

When you’re always struggling to keep up with emergency repairs, it’s hard to think ahead. Whether you’re scurrying around to patch walls and fix pipes in a facility management and building maintenance program, or servicing complex, temperamental machines in an equipment and manufacturing maintenance department, putting out fires all day simply doesn’t leave time for preventive maintenance. As a result, things break down more often, which makes the problem even worse.

It’s a hard trap to get out of, but Hippo CMMS' predictive and preventive maintenance management solutions can help. Our building maintenance software lets you plan ahead, spreading out tune-ups and inspections so that, by the end of the month, your workers are all caught up on preventive maintenance. That means fewer equipment failures, and a happier, less stressed-out workforce.


6. Ensure accountability

An accountable workforce is one where each member does their work to the best of their ability, and accepts both their successes and their mistakes. Many maintenance managers use “hold accountable” to mean, “punish the jerk who messed up,” but that approach causes more stress, without getting better results.

Writing in HR Magazine, author Randy Pennington recommends changing your own mindset first. Accept that most of your employees want to do good work and be successful. As a maintenance manager, your role is to help them succeed. That means setting high expectations and helping them learn the skills and discipline they need.

Building management software can help build a truly accountable team. Hippo Reports lets you pull off charts showing each team member their performance, so they can see where they succeeded and where they need to improve. Hippo CMMS’ predictive and preventive maintenance management solutions allows workers to monitor equipment, building the discipline needed to prevent breakdowns and equipment failures.

On demand work order management software allows them to do multiple tasks before checking back into the office, challenging themselves to improve productivity. With a complete set of tools, you’ll be able to train your workers to always give their best.

7. Don’t Forget Breaks

While stepping out during a stressful moment might seem counter intuitive, taking a break can help clear the cobwebs and provide perspective. It also can do a world of good for your workers.

Breaks lead to better results, both for workers and management. After breaks, workers report better energy and job satisfaction, fewer physical aches and pains, and more drive to “work above-and-beyond their job description.” The study also suggested that several shorter breaks through the day may be more restful than one long one late in the afternoon. 

Building maintenance software can make it easier to divide up the day so that you and your workers get the rest you need. With Hippo CMMS, you have complete control over when work is assigned, to whom, and with what deadlines. Instead of handing workers a huge stack of work orders, you can spread them out in a way that doesn’t make workers feel overwhelmed. That makes it easier to set aside time during the day for everyone to rest. And with the extra time CMMS software saves, taking a rest when you need it won’t be a problem.


The right tools can help you be a better manager. The best maintenance managers know the difference between working hard and working smart. Hippo CMMS gives you the tools to make your team more productive while making their jobs easier. Download our free CMMS guide today to learn how our building maintenance software can transform the way you’re doing business.

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Topics: Facility Management facility managers CMMS Implementation Preventive Maintenance Hippo Helps plant managers cmms software

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