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Lubrication Checkup: Managing Change

Ken Bannister | April 1, 2015

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Symptom:

We have a full lubrication program in place with two teams looking after different parts of the plant. All four specialists (two per team) have had the same training and use identical processes and procedures. However, over a six-month period, one side of the plant has seen reduced bearing failures while the other side is worse than before! How can this be?

Diagnosis:

You have a change-management issue. Whenever improvement programs are implemented, elements of change, or culture shift, must be addressed alongside technical issues like lubricant choices, delivery methods, procedures and others. Partial change that doesn’t adequately address “people” issues will face many challenges before success can be declared.

Change scares many people, especially as they age or if their work will be scrutinized. The “we’ve always done it this way, why change now” lament means one or more individuals are uncomfortable with the change process and need to be involved and managed through it. Old habits die hard!

Best-practice organizations know there are two things they must understand to ensure successful levels of performance: what they control and what they must manage. Based on the success of Team “A,” the technical elements used to control the lubrication process seem to be in place and change has been embraced. Team “B” does not appear to have embraced the change.

Good maintenance starts by managing people who manage assets. Individuals have different personalities and process information differently. Some are adaptable, others aren’t. Before committing to an imminent change, people want to be heard and know their concerns are being addressed.

Prescription:

Reasons for problems like yours aren’t always evident. A third party may be needed to determine the root cause and “re-involve” Team “B” in the change process. The situation could stem from something as simple as a poor training experience for one or both team members. Typical questions to ask them are: 1) Were they involved in developing the lubrication program, and if not, how do they feel about it? 2) Do they get along with each another and/or their supervisor? 3) Are they suited to the work, and do they believe in what they are doing? If done in a calm, non-accusatory manner, the answer to your question should make itself clear. Good Luck!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ken Bannister

Ken Bannister

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