Uptime: Help Select Next-Gen Maintenance & Reliability Leaders

Bob Williamson | July 1, 2014


Last month’s Uptime column (“Wanted: Maintenance & Reliability Leaders”) defined job roles and presented a draft “Maintenance and Reliability Career Ladder” as a starting point. As noted in that column, we have an opportunity and an obligation to select and develop our future maintenance and reliability (M&R) leaders. Who are they? Where do they come from? How can we get more of them? Do we grow our own? Is it possible to predict those who have the inherent and learned talents to succeed as leaders in these fields? I believe it is.

This month’s column explores a well-defined and scientific predictive approach for selecting M&R leaders. It can help you identify the right people with the right skills for the right jobs today and tomorrow.

Benefits of career ladders

How effectively we select the right people to serve—and thrive—as our next-generation M&R leaders will be a fundamental building block in our future business success. Selection begins by defining the various M&R job roles and then developing “career ladders” designed to facilitate growth and development within those roles.

Career ladders provide a defined path for growing skills and knowledge related specifically to the needs of the plant or facility and the interests of the individual. It’s a win-win proposition: The enterprise benefits by developing and deploying the right people with the right skills. The individual benefits by mastering higher-level skills and knowledge for higher levels of satisfaction, motivation, recognition and pay in a “pay-for-applied skills” compensation process.

Well-defined M&R career ladders lead to improved business performance and employee retention. The “learn-and-earn” aspects of these types of ladders are especially appealing to younger generations.

Three elements in selecting leaders

The ability to choose individuals who are the “right fit” for the organization, type of work and M&R team is fundamental to sustainable improvements in equipment maintenance and reliability. Selecting maintenance and reliability employees, however, can be a challenging, unreliable process. Apart from objective, well-documented education, experience and certifications, interviews designed to uncover what a candidate might accomplish for an organization are mostly subjective. There is a better way.

Selecting the right people for M&R leadership can be more reliable and predictive when three key elements are used: “Effort Fit,” “Culture Fit” and “Science Fit.”

Effort Fit: Job skills and knowledge, certifications and licenses and work history are representative of Effort Fit. By understanding a job candidate’s past effort—what he/she has accomplished—decisions can be made regarding the person’s ability to fit in with the technical parts of the new job role.

Culture Fit: A work culture is defined as the individual and collective behaviors of people on the job. Selecting personnel that will thrive in your organization’s work culture is indicative of Culture Fit. This is the most subjective of the three employee selection elements. In addition to setting up plant tours for job candidates, employers often rely on structured interview processes with various members of the M&R work group, observing how the job seeker responds in different discussions and situations. Some businesses also rely on assessment centers and role-playing based on actual job-performance requirements.

Science Fit: This is the most powerful predictor of a “right fit” as an M&R leader. Science Fit reflects what a candidate brings to the job as a person, including character, behaviors, interpersonal relationships, attitudes and beliefs. But these characteristics are often overlooked.

Interestingly, there are several efficient predictive assessment tools available to help determine the Science Fit of a candidate. By its nature, a predictive assessment tool should be especially appealing to today’s M&R leaders and decision-makers. Let’s dig deeper into how this type of assessment can work.

Science Fit assessments—selecting for success

Can candidates for M&R leadership positions thrive in your organization? Will they be confident self-starters? An assessment process designed to predict a candidate’s “right fit” measures the following traits, behaviors, styles and attitudes:

1. Inherent Character Traits: Individual character traits don’t change once they are established at about age 15. These traits include personality, initiative, sensitivity and common sense. “Inherent Character Traits” describe the candidates’ talents in terms of what they CAN do (“self-management”) and include:

Enterprising Orientation: A measure of potential for planning and directing one’s self effectively; an indication of the candidate’s ability to establish, focus on and achieve personal goals.

Achievement Orientation: A measure of the factors that motivate a person to achieve and to do their very best. These are the internal motivators.

Independence Orientation: A measure of a person’s need for structure, feedback or affirmation, and team orientation.

2. Learned Behaviors: How individuals respond to situations is based on what they have learned from personal experience and observations. The two Learned Behaviors include:

Comfort with Conflict: A measure of how comfortable the person is in situations where actual or potential conflict exists.

Emotional Quotient: A measure of a person’s ability to monitor their own emotions and those of others, and act accordingly.

3. Learned Communications Styles: How individuals communicate is also based on what they have learned from personal experience and observations. The two Learned Communications Styles include:

People Orientation: A measure of how a person builds relationships with others and the degree to which they enjoy meeting or working closely with others.

Analytical Orientation: A measure of a person’s interest in learning for its own sake and their comfort/preferences dealing with detailed technical information.

4. Attitudes and Beliefs: How an individual thinks and feels will change as experience and situations change. Attitudes and beliefs influence how we think and feel but do not necessarily reflect long-term responses to situations. They are, however, indicators that can provide valuable information in the short term. The five Attitudes and Beliefs indicators include:

Uncertainty Indicator: Indicates how accurate the person’s attitudes and beliefs measurements are.

Self-Confidence Scale: A measure of how much the person feels in control of his/her life and circumstances.

Lifestyle Management Scale: A measure of how well the person is coping with stresses in his/her life.

Commitment Reluctance: A measure of a person’s ability to commit to career responsibilities and his/her comfort in asking others to make and keep their commitment.

Listening Style Scale: A measure of a person’s attention and active listening to others.

A call to action

The Science Fit assessment described above exists in a robust, proven, statistically reliable instrument called ManagementPro (selfmgmt.com). While it has not yet been used for selecting M&R leaders, I have completed this self-assessment and reviewed my profile with interpretive experts. Based on the powerful insight this tool delivers, I am confident it can be used as a successful model for selecting individuals with the ability or potential to be the future M&R leaders that industry needs. We must begin ASAP to establish this type of assessment and associated selection profile.

The next step: Identify a group of successful M&R leaders to assist in validating this assessment instrument as a valid predictor of job performance and retention. This M&R Leaders Norm Group should include representatives from various industrial sectors who are:

• Currently employed, successful maintenance or reliability directors, managers or engineers; or
• Recently retired maintenance or reliability directors, managers or engineers; and are
• Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (CMRPs) by the Society of Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP); and/or
• Certified Plant Maintenance Managers (CPMMs) by the Association for Facilities Engineering (AFE)

The process: ManagementPro assessments can be administered online at home or at work and take about 45 minutes to complete. M&R Leaders Norm Group participants will also be asked for demographic information like position title, years in the present company, total years experience, certifications, industry type (NAICS code), geographic region and educational background. The resulting assessment profiles will be provided to the individuals for their own information and anonymously included in the M&R Leaders validity study. Participants will also be included in discussion groups to establish an M&R Leaders Selection Profile.

Your help is needed

We are now seeking volunteer companies and/or individual M&R Leaders from across the U.S, Canada and Mexico to participate in establishing the M&R Leaders Selection Profile. The online assessment and personal profile report will have a nominal cost (depending on the size of the initial norm group). If you are interested in participating, please contact me at the email address listed below for additional information or to register.

Editor’s Note:

ManagementPro is a Trademark of Self Management Group, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The author’s assessment and information about ManagementPro were provided by Smart Work | Network, Inc., Greenville, SC.





Bob Williamson

Bob Williamson

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