Archive | April, 1998


3:35 am
April 2, 1998
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MAINTECH: For the Action-Oriented Manager

bob_baldwinFor a number of years, MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY Magazine has been looking forward to the opportunity to sponsor a conference and trade show designed specifically for its readers. We know that members of the maintenance reliability community have a number of events from which to choose. However, we believe there is still room for another if it provides a superior mix of helpful topics, engaging speakers, and informative exhibits.

We plan to do just that December 1-3, 1998, in Houston, TX, with MAINTECH South, and June 8-10, 1999, with MAINTECH North in Cleveland, OH.

We brought together a number of readers, authors, and advertisers in Chicago recently to begin the planning process. When people engaged in the maintenance reliability processes get together, it is always a challenge to to build a consensus in the allotted time because of their far-ranging interests, responsibilities, knowledge, and opinions.

There was a quick agreement that practical and results-oriented presentations would be favored over the theoretical or academic. To that end, it was noted that there should be strong involvement from knowledgeable practitioners, people who can share what they have learned and validate the practicality of various strategies and technologies, as well as warn of potential pitfalls.

It was also apparent throughout the discussion that business issues should play as important a role as technical issues in the make up of the conference menu. There was agreement that most maintenance and reliability professionals need more information on how to work effectively with financial and operations managers and senior staff at the enterprise level. Those issues will be addressed.

The committee also defined the type of person to which the conference should be directed: the action-oriented mid-level manager.

We invite you to take action by providing your input to the committee. Tell us what topics you would most like to see on the program, as well as what issues you have had enough of. Our Internet site at has a survey form to speed the process. Or fax your ideas to us at (847) 304-8603.

We also hope your agenda includes an action item to submit and abstract of a presentation in which you would share your expertise with your fellow maintenance professionals. MT

Thanks for stopping by,


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3:33 am
April 2, 1998
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More Thoughts About Responsible Custodianship

My second and third articles in this series suggested that the development of maintenance strategy consists of three main elements:

  • Determine the maintenance requirements of each asset
  • Decide what resources are required to fulfill the requirements effectively
  • Implement the systems needed to manage the resource efficiently.
  • It also was stressed that the only way to develop a truly viable, long-term maintenance strategy is to invest an appropriate amount of time and energy in every element of this process. Striking the right balance is an essential element of the responsible custodianship of physical assets.

    The extent to which the physical and financial health of most organizations now depends on the continued physical and functional integrity of their assets means that the pressure on maintainers to exercise this custodianship in the most responsible fashion possible is becoming extraordinarily intense. Not only is this pressure arising from the expectations of our customers, but it is attracting the attention of regulators as well. Federal regulators such as OSHA, FDA, FAA, and EPA as well as state and municipal regulator bodies are not only demanding much greater precision and clarity in our asset management policies, but also asking us to be able to prove that what we are doing is sensible and defensible.

    The sanctions which they apply if we are thought to have gotten it wrong are also becoming steadily more ferocious. For example, in the past few months, the British government has started exploring the idea of introducing a new class of crime called “corporate manslaughter,” to be applied to the senior executives of organizations where fatalities can be shown to be the result of irresponsible custodianship of physical assets.

    In this environment, maintainers need to raise their standards of custodianship to far higher levels than have ever been acceptable in the past. In this context, my fourth article in this series drew parallels between the custodianship of financial assets and the custodianship of physical assets.

    It suggested that at present, industry devotes far more time and effort to the former than to the latter, despite the fact that the consequences of the incorrect custodianship of physical assets are often far worse than the consequences of the incorrect custodianship of financial assets.

    This is partly because the processes used to manage financial assets have been under development since Pacioli invented double-entry bookkeeping more than 500 years ago. By comparison, the concept of planned maintenance has been in existence for only less than 50 years, while the most powerful maintenance strategy formulation technique–reliability-centered maintenance (RCM)–was first codified in the Nowlan and Heap report barely 20 years ago. Terms like computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and predictive maintenance (PdM) have come into widespread general use only in the past 10 years. In short, industry is only just beginning to appreciate what must be done to exercise truly responsible custodianship of physical assets. We are still decades away from establishing physical asset management processes which are as widely accepted and rigorously enforced as those of our colleagues in the world of financial management.

    Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that a great deal of experimentation is still going on in the world of physical asset management. Some of this experimentation is leading to developments that are of great value. In particular, one thinks of the explosive growth in PdM techniques, continuous advances in the CMMS field, rapidly growing understanding of the processes which cause systems to fail (including the part played by human error), and the formal incorporation of quantified risk in maintenance strategy formulation.

    Unfortunately, some of this experimentation is also ill advised and often dangerous. This is especially true of attempts to cut the cost of formulating safe maintenance strategies. Most of these attempts are being made by well-intentioned people who are concentrating more on the cost of the strategy formulation process than on what it achieves. Given that we still have so much to learn about what really constitutes best practice together with the potentially horrendous consequences of getting it wrong, too much emphasis on short cuts right now is at best dangerous and at worst irresponsible. My future articles in the series will explore some of the most common pitfalls in this area. MT

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    12:29 am
    April 2, 1998
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    CMMS Failure Is Not An Option

    Helpful information for getting a failing CMMS implementation projectback on track.

    You spent a quarter of a million dollars and countless hours of productivity to purchase a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Good. Smart move. But it has been 6 months, and so far all you’ve gotten from the software is headaches.

    Maintenance supervisors claim it takes too long to enter the information on the work orders. The person in charge of scheduling says the PM system is not like the old system and has refused to use it. The housekeeping manager claims the system is being used correctly but the reports are messed up, so it must be a system problem. Worse yet, upper management is asking when all of those big cost savings and paybacks are going to kick in.

    Estimates indicate that anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of CMMS implementations fail for reasons from bad management to poor communications to resistance to change.

    Here are some ideas that can help you get on top of a bombed or exploding implementation effort and prevent it from reaching the point that it is a total loss in the eyes of both your employees and management. If you are thinking about implementing a CMMS for the first time, this material may steer you away from possible stumbling blocks in your efforts.

    Before examining guidelines on what to do, it is worth looking at what not to do, as outlined in the section “What Not To Do.”

    What to do
    Now that you have an idea of what not to do, you can turn your attention to what can and will work for you. The following steps or processes can be followed depending on your situation and the degree of your implementation failure.

    No matter what you need to do, you must begin with an analysis of what went wrong with your implementation before you can move ahead in fixing it. This is hard. You have to be brutally honest. More importantly, you need to look at the situation objectively.

    The key to this kind of analysis is to constantly ask the question: “Is this a symptom or the real reason for failure?” In most cases there will be more than one reason that the implementation effort blew up. When someone says “the PM module didn’t work,” is he saying the software did not function as it was supposed to or that he just refused to change his old shoebox method of doing PMs? Again, was the reason given a symptom of the problem, or a problem all by itself?

    These painful debriefing sessions need to be kept in focus. They are not gripe sessions or opportunities for finger pointing. Instead, they should be aimed at getting to why the implementation effort stopped or reversed. It is recommended that an outside facilitator be used to run these meetings to make sure that all parties have a chance to give their views or perspectives on the matters that are brought to the surface.

    Often it will be found that the root cause was a lack of proper resources in an area. Make sure that as you define what went wrong, you determine if the appropriate resources were in place. Keep tabs as well on factors that you do not or cannot control in the implementation process-factors such as production schedules, management issues, etc. This information can help you organize your response to the root problems and get your implementation back on track.

    Reorganize your attack
    Failure is not an option. Knowing what went wrong allows you to make plans to correct things that went wrong or avoid trouble spots in the future.

    The majority of CMMS implementations fail because of one key factor-people or managers are unwilling to change the way they do business. Many maintenance managers try to force the system to conform to the way they do business, which they, themselves, often do not understand-but they somehow expect a CMMS to understand it.

    CMMSs are sophisticated, expensive tools. Many have functions and capabilities that allow them to minimize the amount of change you and your management will have to go through. But the reality of successful implementations is that people are going to have to change the processes and the way they work to fully leverage the power of the CMMS to save money and organize work. I once visited a production plant that was stalled on its third CMMS implementation in 3 years because the department was unwilling to change the numbering of its work orders to what the system could handle.

    You must understand how you do your work before you can automate it. Take the time up front to analyze how you work. The CMMS reports are the key. Reports tell you what information is needed to conduct business. They tell you also what you need to get out of the system. A good reports analysis answers such questions as: What information are your people gathering presently when they do work (hours, materials, etc.)? How do they plan to manage using information from the system? Are they running reports now, and if so, how are they using them? If they are not running reports, what do they need to get from the system to allow them to manage their business? Is all the information they are looking at necessary?

    Reviewing the information you need to obtain from the system tells you what you need to capture. There are data requirements that the CMMS itself must have to operate properly, such as required fields to process work orders. Once you have a full understanding of the minimum amount of data you have to capture, it is much easier to develop a plan for implementing various functions of the CMMS.

    All is not lost if your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) implementation effort fails. You do not have to scrap the software and your hard work thus far and call the whole process a loss. With the proper leadership, communication, and effort, even an implementation that is falling apart can be reversed and the rewards of a good system can still be achieved.

    It is important to avoid blame and search the root cause of the failure. Then, the real data needs of the maintenance operation, as well as the CMMS software itself, must be reviewed as the basis for renewed effort.

    “Chunking” your re-implementation effort
    A CMMS is a complicated software package in that it crosses a number of different business areas and fields of expertise. Planners, engineers, supervisors, technicians, purchasing agents, crib attendants, and others can all interact with the system and provide information it needs to make it a useful tool.

    Given the size and scope of the software, often the best approach is to break up your implementation effort into bite-size chunks. This “chunking” of the implementation effort makes the software easier to implement, and, in the long run, increases the chances for success.

    There is a tendency to look at chunking too broadly. When chunking, you need to break your chunks down into workable real elements within the system-not just modules or sets of features. For example, a common cry during implementation efforts by the maintenance staff is “just get the work order module up and running, we’ll figure out the rest later.” But it’s not that easy. The key to this kind of sweeping statement is to look at two things. First, what defines “up and running;” second, what is needed to meet that definition.

    The implementation team must determine what “up and running” means. Does it mean capturing labor and material information against a work order? Tracking equipment history? Does it mean that schedulers and planners can scope out the entire workload and balance the resources to on-line schedule work? Each element of these questions forces more detailed questions because a CMMS, no matter what CMMS you pick, requires certain bits of information to be in place just to fulfill these needs.

    What does it take to meet those definitions? If the answer was yes to all the previous questions, your chunking efforts are numerous. Just to successfully implement work orders, you may have to have the building, grounds, and equipment databases fully populated. You will need to have the inventory put into the system as well just to capture material-plus the inventory system may require you to have vendor information populated. And do not forget the employees. You may have to enter them, their skills, available work hours, days of work, etc., into the system just to capture employee data. In those examples listed above, each is a chunk of information that has to be captured.

    Finally, as you break your implementation effort into pieces, the team will need to make sure that for each chunk there is no required information that has to be in place first. For example, the equipment database may require that you have the vendor and buildings databases populated first. This helps you define the order in which you approach your chunking efforts.

    Ownership of information
    If your implementation effort is to be successful there is a hurdle that often has to be crossed-ownership of the data in the system. While far from tangible, this threshold is often what defines a successful or failed implementation effort.

    Ownership of the information is when employees and managers are held accountable for the data in the CMMS. Accountability is when maintenance management stops questioning the reports that come out of the system, and listening to the complaints that “the software or database must be screwed up,” and begins to run the business using the information in the system. It is when business decisions are based on the figures from the CMMS.

    Most CMMSs work well. They have been through quality assurance and, if they are used properly, the information in them is correct. All too often implementation efforts are undermined when management, fearful of a new software package, does not believe what it sees. How does this weakness manifest itself? Example: “Floyd on the night shift has been complaining for 3 years he’s overworked, but the figures here show he’s not. Obviously the system must be wrong.”

    The truth is that the employee probably is overworked but is not capturing that information in the system. This is not a personnel problem in most cases, but a process issue. Rather than refute the information in the reports, management needs to guide “Floyd” on how to use the system to reflect his status of being overworked. (In some cases, however, this may be a personnel problem if it is found that Floyd really is not overworked and the CMMS can now prove it.)

    Importance of communication
    The key to a successful implementation effort is good communication. This does not mean that the day the software is installed management fires off a memo to everyone about it. Instead, communication is ongoing with the staff. It takes many forms, including e-mail, meetings, and perhaps a newsletter to keep everyone informed on where the implementation effort is and what is coming next.

    Communication needs to be regular, consistent, and reinforcing. Regular means that the implementation efforts are passed to the right people in plenty of time for them to respond or act. Communication is consistent when the wording is always the same and the look and feel of the communication is always the same.

    Reinforcing means that communication does not replace training and leadership, instead it substantiates it and supports it.

    There is a thought with many maintenance managers in failed implementations that “my people don’t need to know anything about the system. We’re a small shop. If I tell them to do it, they’ll do it; they don’t need to know what we’re doing or why.” These are obviously fallacies. Size of a shop only governs how you communicate. The front line maintenance workers can make or break an implementation effort. If they think the CMMS data are going to be used for downsizing decisions or for performance appraisals, guess what-they will derail the implementation effort. It is important to tell them truthfully what the CMMS information is going to be used for and their role in the implementation effort.

    Use outside help when necessary
    CMMS consulting is becoming a very popular way to make or repair your implementation efforts. If it is done for the right reasons, and properly supported, bringing in a “hired gun” to jump-start your implementation can work effectively. There are some tips and hints of what you should do and avoid, however, that can make this process productive and effective.

    As you have probably gathered, successful CMMS implementation requires some knowledge of the CMMS, but it also requires a good understanding of the business and how work is done (work flow processes). You should look for the same characteristics in any consultant. He should understand the maintenance function and at the same time know enough about a CMMS to ensure that the implementation process can be broken down effectively into manageable work packages.

    The best application of an outside consultant is to assist with developing the plan. Remember, ownership of system information is vital. The key then is to not put the consultant in charge of the implementation. Instead, the consultant can take on the role of trouble-shooter, working through process issues and managing the planning portion of the implementation effort while the company-leader of the implementation actually leads the effort.

    Should you hire someone from the company that sold you the CMMS? Yes, if the person is the right individual. Computer skills are important in a consultant, but not nearly as vital as his people and communication skills. Be careful in working with your CMMS vendor that you are getting someone who knows CMMS, but someone who knows the business more. Key question: “How many successful CMMS implementations have you put together?” There is a big difference between how many systems a vendor consultant has installed versus how many he has implemented. Bottom line: nothing is more frustrating for a maintenance manager than sitting down with a computer technician who does not understand why the second shift does not have time to close work orders in the -system.

    All is not lost if your CMMS implementation effort fails. You don’t have to scrap the software and your hard work thus far and call the whole thing a loss. With the proper leadership, communication and effort, even an implementation that is falling apart can be reversed and the rewards of a good system can still be achieved. MT

    Blaine L. Pardoe, author of Cubicle Warfare: Self-Defense Strategies for Today’s Hypercompetitive Workplace (Prima Publishing, 1997), is a partner at Enterprise Management Systems, 8033 Sudley Road, Suite 155, Manassas, VA 22110; (703) 331-3749; -e-mail

    What Not To Do

    Before examining guidelines on what to do when implementing a CMMS, it is worthwhile looking at what not to do.

    These examples are based on experiences with actions that simply do not work for most managers in most companies.

    Do not hire a consultant to run the whole thing
    Consultants will tell you that they should run the entire implementation effort. Why? The truth is that for an implementation effort to succeed, your own people need to take ownership of it. That’s not to say you can’t bring in outside help; in fact, in some cases that help is critical. However, do not get sold on the concept of someone outside your company being a miracle worker.

    Do not blame the implementation manager
    If an implementation fails, seeking a scapegoat will not solve anything. If it fails, it is the fault of everyone involved with the project. More often than not, the fault lies not with those in charge of implementation, but rather those in management that stood in its way or derailed it in the first place.

    Do not threaten the supervisors and staff
    Having lived through one of these situations myself, I can vouch for the fact that if you threaten the supervisors and staff with their jobs, they will indeed use the system. However, they may not use it right or care about the data that they put in it. In the short term you will get them to use the CMMS but at the same time you will force them to hate it, and you.

    Do not buy a new CMMS
    The logic behind this is akin to: “When I hit myself in the head with a hammer it hurts. If I switch to a wrench, it might not hurt.” Often when the implementation of a CMMS goes bad, everyone blames the software. Usually, the real problem is that the people who use the software are resistant to change. Bringing in new software is simply a chance for everyone to repeat the disaster that messed up the last implementation.

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    7:05 pm
    April 1, 1998
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    Importance of Machinery Alignment Records

    Recording coupling alignment data can be tedious, but it is worth the effort. Future jobsgo faster and smoother. Sample forms providethe basis for designingyour own recording and reporting sheets.

    Over the past 20 years, awareness of the beneficial effects of accurate and precise shaft alignment has increased dramatically. It would appear, therefore, that precision shaft alignment is taking a more important role in installing and maintaining machinery. However, this perception may be somewhat difficult to prove because it is quite rare to find historical records on the alignment of rotating -machinery.

    Condition-based maintenance programs incorporate periodic collection of vibration data, oil samples, and infrared images on which comparative analysis is made to detect unhealthy changes in these parameters that may indicate potential problems with the machinery. But if you ask the people involved in these highly successful programs to show you their alignment records, rather than information, you typically get a blank stare and a quizzical look -asking: “Why should we keep that information?”

    There are several good reasons for keeping alignment records and checking shaft alignment periodically. Most people assume that once you align a drive system, it stays aligned forever. This cannot be further from the truth.

    A chemical plant that checked the alignment of its rotating machinery annually for the past 3 years found that 80 percent of the machinery did not stay aligned for a long period. How did they find that out? They kept records of their work and compared the “as found” alignment to the “as left” alignment the last time it was checked. Do you do this? If not, why not? If you were to shut down one of your drive systems today and check the alignment, how confident are you that the randomly selected piece of rotating machinery is aligned?

    If you keep alignment records and find that a drive system has shifted its position, what caused the shift to occur? If it is a pump, compressor, or turbine, could there be an excessive amount of static or dynamic piping strain? Is there poor contact between the machine case and baseplate due to a soft foot condition causing shim packs to work loose, shifting the machine? Is the foundation shifting its position over long periods of time? Not only should shaft position measurements be kept, but also information on the preliminary checks such as shaft or coupling hub runout conditions, soft foot information and shim shapes, and static piping stress tests.

    Not every alignment job is straightforward. In special cases, information on how the alignment measurements were taken can be invaluable.

    At one steel plant, a fairly complex finishing mill screw down drive train comprising several flexibly coupled machine cases was experiencing premature failures on several components. An integrated flexible coupling and drum brake assembly was installed between two of the machine cases. The plant had a laser alignment system but was unable to use it for this setup because the stationary brake shoe assembly surrounding the drum blocked the laser beam sight line.

    The shaft alignment measurements were taken using a face and inside rim reading to capture the measurements. Photographs of the procedure were used to develop an alignment procedure for the unit which requires both laser and dial indicator measurement systems.

    Another company was experiencing failures on the bearings and mechanical seal of a motor-pump drive system. Initially, the motor and pump were removed from the baseplate, the bearings and seals were replaced, and the unit re-aligned. After two more failures within a 10-month period, the alignment was checked before the motor and pump were removed only to find the “as found” alignment measurements did not match (or even come close) to the “as left” alignment after the last rebuild.

    Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the pump foot bolts were loose and a “soft foot” condition existed on all the pump feet, and the suction and discharge piping was exerting a considerable strain on the unit, slowly shifting its position over time. Since the alignment measurement system the company was using forced it to name one machine stationary and the other movable, the technicians named the motor as the movable machine, never bothering to check the foot bolts on the pump.

    I was once told: “If something is important enough to measure, then it’s important enough to write it down and save it.” Historical records of the “soft foot” conditions, runout on the shafts and coupling hubs, piping stress checks, “as found” and “final” off-line shaft alignment position measurements, and machinery dimensions can take some time and effort to compile. However, there is a good chance that this information might save you or one of your co-workers as much or possibly more time than it took to generate the records in the first place. MT

    John Piotrowski, author of Shaft Alignment Handbook, is president of Turvac Inc., an alignment training and consulting company, 125 Settlemyre Rd., Oregonia, OH 45054; (513) 932-2771; Internet

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    4:49 pm
    April 1, 1998
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    The Empowerment Checklist

    A true revolution is taking place in American leadership style as companies move from the era of command and control to one of employee empowerment. Managers and supervisors are being challenged to redefine their roles in this new era.

    We at HSB Reliability Technologies have been facing questions about visions, missions, expectations, and empowerment with increasing frequency. Despite a number of books devoted to the empowerment process, our experience has shown us that none seem to touch on every phase of the process. They all emphasize only certain aspects. To help fill the gaps and provide a ready reference for the modern reliability leader we have developed an Empowerment Checklist.

    Shared vision
    First, the leader establishes the long-term vision for the organization. The leader can be anyone from the CEO to a plant manager to a maintenance engineer leading a reliability improvement effort. A vision is an inspiring description of a prosperous future. Its purpose is to inspire and align an organization. It is critical that visions within an organization support the vision for the organization as a whole. Failure to create such an alignment causes confusion, conflicting efforts, and all the chaos associated with corporate mutiny.

    Communicating the vision is just the beginning of the process. Building belief in and support for the vision is the real challenge for the leader. After all, a vision that is not shared is only a dream.

    Corporate culture
    The leader next works with his leadership group in order to establish the corporate culture in which the employees are to operate. The leadership group covers everyone from the CEO to the people who interact with the first line supervisors.

    The lower level of the corporate leadership group, also known as middle management, is much maligned and has been shrinking greatly in stature in most organizations. But middle management serves many purposes, including helping the leader to define the corporate culture.

    The formal and informal rules that define the acceptable and desirable patterns of behavior in an organization constitute its corporate culture. It is more important to determine the informal rules that actually are being followed than the formal rules found in manuals and plaques on the wall.

    How important is it to define a corporate culture? Consider this: a person’s compatibility with an organization’s corporate culture is possibly the most important selection criteria in all personnel decisions, whether hiring, promoting, or separating. We frequently run into obstacles to improvement in organizations that haven’t defined their culture including: “How do you know continuous improvement is what we want to do?” or “Who says empowering or hourly employees is a good thing?”

    Together with input from all levels of the organization, the leadership group then works to turn the vision into shorter-term missions for different people, teams, and organizations. The mission or mission statement defines what is to be worked on and what is to be accomplished.

    Key strategies
    Leaders also establish key macro strategies that require their level of responsibility and influence in order to be successful. Key strategies define the overall plan of action that a leadership group hopes to implement in order to achieve its mission. The decision to further empower employees is an example of a key strategy.

    Organize for success
    Leaders retain the responsibility to organize the employees in a structure that will allow them to accomplish their mission. Today, companies need to be organized in at least two ways. First, who is the customer? Second, who is the leader (coach, confidant, interference runner)? In some organizations there may be further differentiation between business and functional leaders.

    Leaders need to provide this information. Empowered employees may have considerable input to this process, but not final say. Few employees are likely to expose themselves to the consequences of organizational changes that result from such programs as reengineering. Thus final responsibility is still with the leader.

    Roles and responsibilities
    With considerable input from employees, leaders establish the roles and responsibilities for each employee in the organization. This includes identifying the resources available to the employees and clearly establishing the boundaries of their efforts. Just like in the theatre, an employee’s role is the part he plays in an organization. His responsibilities define the activities for which he will be held accountable. Resources are assets, people, and systems at his disposal to achieve the mission. Boundaries define the demarcation between resources that are available to him and those that are not.

    Good definition of roles and responsibilities clears up much of the petty bickering and political infighting that plagues many organizations. We recently helped to define the roles and responsibilities for a tool room attendant. He was delighted to participate in the process and commented that in 20 years of working at the plant it was the first time someone had really explained what he was supposed to be doing. Incidentally, his role changed from guardian of the tools (of dubious value) to tool repairman (a profitable activity).

    From the roles and responsibilities, the leader and employee (or a team of employees) working together establish expectations of what is to be accomplished over a given period. Expectations define the level of performance, or improved performance, that is to be achieved. Increasingly, expectations are defined in terms of balanced scorecards rather than single dimensioned productivity goals. They can also describe specific activities or subjective goals.

    Balanced scorecards
    Together the leader and employee also agree on the balanced scorecards that will be used to track progress toward achieving the expectations and mission. Balanced scorecards, critical success indicators, or key measures are all the same thing. The question is, What do you propose to measure in order to determine if you are achieving the mission? Be careful here, you will be held accountable for continuous improvement!

    Good measures are usually built around those activities that are the key drivers of the profitability or efficiency of an organization’s systems. In maintenance this may include percent planned work, PM compliance, mean time between failure, or operating factor. In addition to the traditional financial measures, balanced scorecards also measure the improvement of organizational learning and growth, internal systems, and the benefits for customers and partners.

    The leader then establishes the consequences (positive or negative) of achieving the goals. The leader also ensures that incentives are aligned throughout the organization (for departments, teams, suppliers, and customers). Positive consequences include recognition, praise, increased self-esteem, pay increases, bonuses, promotion, and a bigger boat in the driveway. Negative consequences include constructive criticism, retraining, transfer, pay cuts, demotion, and a dinghy in the driveway. Both may be required for success; wisdom is required for proper application.

    Coach and facilitate
    The employees are now properly empowered. They know what is to be accomplished, by when, and why. They also know the resources available to them and the boundaries of their efforts. They understand the culture in which they are to operate and the tools available for use. They also have a felt need for achieving their goals. However, the leader’s work is just beginning. What do leaders and supervisors need to do to gain the trust and commitment of empowered ~employees?

    First, they must get out of the way and allow the employees to use all their talent, initiative, and foresight to achieve the expectations. The leader also must remain alert for the need to run interference for the employee when obstacles are encountered, whether organizational or financial. It should also be the leader’s desire that employees achieve their mission.

    Therefore, the leader also becomes coach, guide, and confidant. He passes on the knowledge, skills, and techniques he has learned from experience. Out in the trenches most learning still takes place through one-on-one coaching, which is something to be recognized and formalized. Being a guide means being consistent. Nothing destroys initiative faster than inconsistent and arbitrary leadership.

    Finally, the leader must avoid getting involved on a daily basis. Otherwise, the employee may vertically delegate the responsibility back and the supervisor loses his ability to lead.

    Review and redirect
    After a given period (3 months, 6 months, a year), the leader and employee reunite to review progress toward achieving the expectations. Performance is reviewed, which starts the process for salary review and other incentive systems. The vision, mission, and key strategies are reviewed and updated if needed, as well as the roles and responsibilities and the balanced scorecards. Then new expectations are established, and the process restarted.

    Finally, one tenet remains true: a leader can delegate responsibility, but not accountability. The leader remains accountable for the results of all activity in his sphere of responsibility.

    The first and one of the biggest mistakes that many companies pursuing empowerment have made is to assume that empowerment means abdication of authority to the workforce. Our experience on reliability improvement programs has taught us that even empowered employees need a good deal of leadership, support, and nurturing to be successful.

    When we have failed to understand or follow the Empowerment Checklist, our reliability improvement efforts have frequently met with frustration and reduced results. When we follow it successfully, results frequently exceed expectations. In fact, double-digit improvements in productivity, reliability, and production capacity are common. MT

    John Roup is senior operations manager for HSB Reliability Technologies, 800 Rockmead Dr., Three Kingwood Place, Suite 180, Kingwood, TX 77339; (281) 358-1477. He is responsible for overseeing and directing maintenance and reliability improvment programs in a wide range of industries.

    Empowerment Checklist

    • Create a shared vision
    • Define your corporate culture
    • Define missions
    • Select key strategies
    • Organize for success
    • Define employees’ roles and responsibilities
    • Define expectations
    • Establish balanced scorecards
    • Define consequences(good and bad)
    • Coach and facilitate
    • Review and redirect
    • Retain accountability

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