What Should A New Maintenance Manager Do In Their First 90 Days
Your first ninety days as a maintenance manager can be an opportunity to show the management that you are a valuable team member, inspire confidence in your abilities and demonstrate your knowledge. Every company has its own unique challenges and working environment, but as a maintenance manager, there are several things you should do when starting out.
Let’s review how a new maintenance manager in any company can start making improvements, adding value, and position themselves and their department for success.
Set clear goals
Begin your new job by first taking out time to understand your business’s goals and objectives. Talk to your supervisor and discuss the maintenance department’s overall strategy. In case the department’s direction is unclear, seek the advice of senior management to set some strategic objectives.
Based on your available resources and your organization’s overall business goals, you should define the maintenance KPIs you need to focus on, as well as maintenance metrics you will use to track the effects of your maintenance operations.
Meet all the employees
You should meet with all employees, especially direct reports. Introduce yourself, mention your experience and share what you’re interested in achieving at the company. Ask them questions about their work, and show an interest in them. Get to know their backgrounds, aspirations, skill-sets, and personalities.
Try to increase your visibility by reaching out to other colleagues, asking them for ideas, and offering to look into any maintenance issues they may be having. Set some basic expectations about how you expect work to be done, such as quality, punctuality, reporting problems, etc.
Learn internal systems
In your first three months, try to learn as much as possible about the company’s internal project management systems and methodology. You should also learn to navigate the supply chain, procurement, admin and other functions, as these can slow down your project efforts if not handled correctly.
Talk to the system maintenance team, IT and anyone else you may need to interact with in the future and try to build a good rapport with them. They will be your allies in future initiatives. Take tutorials on software and systems used within the company that you may be unfamiliar with like CMMS or ERP solutions.
Talk extensively with the maintenance team to see how their current workflow looks like (how are work request submitted, how they transfer work from one shift to the other, which maintenance strategy did they use so far, how do they communicate, how they track important asset information, and similar).
Review policies, procedures, and records
Since maintenance policies vary greatly from company to company, review all the policies to see where the process can be improved. Examine old reports to see the state of affairs under the previous maintenance manager. You may find some issues or potential problems that no one has reported to you. Also consider carrying out a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.
Ask your subordinates and colleagues for ideas that they may have proposed earlier but which did not get greenlighted. Some of those ideas could be useful for eliminating waste, making processes more efficient, or improving downtime.
You should also consider implementing an open door policy where the employees are encouraged to reach out if they have ideas on how to improve a certain process.
Finally, locate drawings and schematics, and get them updated if required. This way, if anything does need repairs in the future, your team will be well prepared.
Implement the right tools
Depending on how mature the maintenance department is, it may already have a CMMS in place. However, even if they already use a CMMS, it may be underutilized and performing poorly. After all, any CMMS “underperforms” when the right data is not provided or when you do not make proper use of all of its features. For example, having mobile maintenance software and not using it to look at asset history and maintenance logs to speed up the process of finding the cause of failure.
Insist on the right data being input, the right process being followed, and monitor the performance of the team in utilizing the CMMS. Be clear that the CMMS will be the foundation for maintenance-related decision making, and highlight the importance of it being used correctly.
If you have a big inventory, you can consider implementing a dedicated inventory management software and if you have a big enough budget, you can consider implementing predictive maintenance and employ predictive analytics. But, in the majority of cases, this is better left for when you settle in and learn the insides and outs of your department.
Before your first ninety days are completed, you should apply whatever you’ve learned from the actions above. You will probably discover many small issues which should be taken care of immediately. Fixing these issues first will demonstrate to your colleagues and team members that you listen to them and take their feedback seriously.
With visible and measurable improvements to showcase, you’ll be able to build up support for your long term initiatives, such as advanced maintenance strategies and lean maintenance . Apart from this, discuss your plans with your subordinates beforehand so they can prepare for the upcoming changes and start laying the groundwork.
By focusing on quick wins, you can impress the management and demonstrate that you are the right choice for the job. Once you have achieved some improvements and streamlined the maintenance workflow, your results will speak for themselves.
That being said, keep in mind that change won’t happen overnight. You will still have to deal with a team that will be used to doing things “the old way”.
In case you face resistance early on, don’t be disheartened. Focus on improving the things that are under your control and try to show the people that work under you that you are ready to put up a good word for them to upper management. If you can do that, their support should follow.
Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO at Limble CMMS .
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