1. Listen, listen, listen!
Many of the best ideas for a change will come from your maintenance tradespeople, so listen to them. Firstly, include a cross-functional group of technicians as part of your initial change design team. Their involvement in developing the change plan will ensure that their ideas, and therefore their commitment, are incorporated into the project from day one.
Next, take the time to talk to your tradespeople one-on-one about the change and create a list of the “top 3” things they would do to make the plan succeed. Once you tally up the suggestions, you will usually find a few core themes. Focus on what is tangible and realistic. Share these ideas with the team and work hard to solve these problems early in the process. A couple of quick wins will demonstrate that you are there to take action and not simply to talk.
Lastly, listen and provide feedback all the way through the process and beyond. If technicians report continuous improvement ideas on completed work orders, but never receive feedback or see their ideas implemented, this communicates that site leadership has “moved on” and is giving tacit approval to let things slide back to the old status quo.
2. Give them the right tools
Too often, management expects change but does not provide the right resources, including shop-floor-ready procedures, tools, training or the time to put it all together into a new way of working. For example, if you want to implement a precision maintenance program you should organize hands-on training for new equipment, tools and procedures to build your technician’s skills and habits before they will be needed in the field. You should also listen to your team if they tell you in good faith that a job that had previously taken two hours will now take three because of the extra precision steps required.
Workshop your new procedures extensively with those who will actually be performing the work to identify issues with execution ahead of time. The “how” of executing a new procedure should be considered integral with the “what.” There is little chance of successful change if you present a fitter with a work order to torque down bolts on a gearbox that is 20 feet in the air without giving them training, a torque wrench, and a safe means of getting up there.