MRO Magazine

Protect your key people to achieve success


October 9, 2009
By PEM Magazine

Smart supply chains have a complete maintenance list of materials handling equipment. For example, the list includes things like when the batteries get checked and key components changed. At the same time, however, do you have a list for your most important asset? In fact, do you know the value of this asset and its impact on your overall business success?

People are your top asset. The team that you have assembled can also either make or break your company. Work ethic, an effective customer service attitude, knowledge and passion for the job-are key foundation blocks to build from. These competencies can be taught, some can be honed and others are also learned from birth. 
A hard question is to answer is how do you determine work ethic? Many people have a work ethic instilled in them at an early age. For example, individuals raised on a farm have a strong work ethic because it’s a 24/7 job-every day of the year. People can obtain customer service skills and other on-the-job knowledge through the aspect of training. And this process should be a key goal for all companies. It involves a conscious effort by management.
Many times, good workers are relieved of their responsibilities, as the manager believes that customer service and knowledge should be intuitive. This isn’t the case. It’s your job to set expectations for your company and customers, as well as train the team to achieve corporate goals. When a customer order is lost, often times I have heard people say that someone has messed up. Sorry, but this approach doesn’t work.
Your people are your responsibility. As a result, you must take care of them. This involves training and mentoring. Workers must know what’s expected of them and understand the process. And if they don’t respond or care, it’s once again your responsibility. Chances are that you hired the wrong person. I know that it’s tough to admit, but this does happen. So, cut any losses before you have invested too much.
Once you have given people the chance and all the required tools to be successful-the onus then belongs to them. And when it comes to maintenance, having the right tools is crucial. Always observe your team at work to ensure workers have access to the right tools. Jobs can then be performed to meet your expectations.
Another job performance-related point is that affirmation is more important than money. Studies show people respond to affirmation better than they do a raise in pay. To motivate workers, create an affirmation program. In a visible way, make sure that your affirmation program enables the team to feel appreciated and respected for a job well done.
Then there’s the aspect of passion. Many times, I’m asked how do you instil passion in workers? Passion is developed when your people like what they’re doing-and again feel appreciated and respected. Everyone wants to know that they’re doing something worthwhile and making a contribution. For example, it’s important for everyone to know how their work impacts production, makes the workplace clean and free from safety hazards.
Again, as a manager, you need to affirm his/her efforts to go above and beyond. You can usually recognize when someone doesn’t like their job, they’re not very good at it or they only do just enough to get by. This is the case of having a square peg in a round hole. Ask people what they like and in a perfect world-what type of job would he/she want? If possible, move the person into that preferred position and then begin to see a rising star.
Lastly, it’s your job to lead and not manage. You want to avoid being the circus person who tries to manage and train the lions with a whip. In terms of your people, this will get things done in the short term, but not work to your benefit in the long run.
Susan Rider is president of Upton, KY-based Rider and Associates. You can reach her by email: