Need of Motivation for Maintenance Staff

from Sanjay B. Chari, Pentair Water India Private Limited
Posted 5/14/2007

I. Understanding Maintenance:

As all of us know that in olden days the call for maintenance was given only when there was a failure of machinery in a production system and would last till the machine is put back in operation. This scenario has changed recently and lots of stress has been put on maintenance function. Also its impact on the customer satisfaction is known in terms of quality and commitment. Apart from this, safety – an important key factor in every organization, is also a function of maintenance.

“Maintenance is a thankless job”, this is repeated by us every time and also sometimes, use it as a tool to be with the maintenance person. Many a times its true, that we don’t appreciate their efforts as we cannot get their direct results like the sales showing their numbers, production showing their targets achieved and crossed.  The maintenance data is also recorded, tracked, presented and analysed, but it is viewed and understood only whenever the production or sales targets are missed due to some failure of the machine. In other words, we  try to understand the maintenance data with negative approach and to understand its impact on the business loss.

A highly motivated and enthusiastic maintenance team can deliver results which are unbelievable and are the ones which every organization expects from them:

  • OEE : The maintenance team helps not only in increasing the machine availability but also increases the overall equipment effectiveness by reducing the losses through up gradation, alteration, set up time reductions and through the elimination of unwanted processes.
  • Safety : Safe environment is a requirement of every organization and for Maintenance team, it is one of the key function where in they are accountable for the safety of the people working in the plant, more than the safety of the plant & equipments.
  • Contribution to High Productivity : Every organization always focuses on the high productivity and many of them achieve also. The real productivity is the one which is “Stress-free Productivity”. The Maintenance team adds value to eliminate the stresses of the production personnel through equipment up gradations.
  • Ergonomics : This is a key factor for Maintenance to eliminate the fatigue on the operators and are able to contribute a lot in this.
  • Contribution to product cost : The variable overhead is a substantial factor in any organization when we consider the product cost. Maintenance being the major controller and distributor for utilities of any organization, they play a very vital role in managing them. If these are managed well, it becomes one of the major contributors for product the cost reduction.
  • Maintenance cost reduction : The expenses for the maintenance activities is controlled by the maintenance team and given a freedom to manage the cost, they do it very well by control of spares, inventory etc. through developments, improvements and maintenance reduction/prevention activities.

II. What is Motivation ?

Motivation is the creation of an environment which makes the individual to achieve their goals easily, better than expected and without creation of fatigue, stress and unhappiness.

Motivation can be extrinsic and intrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is the performance of the task for own sake. It is basically in relation to the attitude of a person towards the work which he performs. This is generally seen when the person is with positive, creative, friendly and vibrant attitude. There is little or no motivation required for this kind of people and is always on the move. The hobbies of an individual can be called as intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation is purely generated due to the tangible and non tangible benefits the employee is getting from an organization. Tangible benefits include the salary rise, awards in terms of money, promotions etc. and non tangible benefits are like recognition of the effort, praising in public, status etc. Among many motivating factors, money is always considered to be the immediate factor which motivates the employee immediately but also does not last for long.

Maintenance member is always little different from other shop floor person in many ways. The shop floor or production people generally track and work only on numbers and they try to deliver in the best possible way. This activity build in the pressure on the maintenance crew as the importance is not given to their needs and also the long term impact of non maintenance is not understood by many of us.

Understanding few characteristics of a successful maintenance personnel will help us in motivating them and hence are listed below :

  • A result oriented person : Every activity of maintenance has to end with a pre desired result and hence the person has to be result oriented.
  • Good technical knowledge and skill
  • Analytical and patient
  • Creative and hardworking
  • Physically fit and able to handle pressure
  • Always a learner

III. Why the maintenance personnel gets de motivated ?

To motivate the maintenance personnel, we need to know why they get de motivated. Few points are listed below :

  • Non recognition of the efforts or appreciation not at par, with the sales or production teams.
  • Non approval or delayed approvals of funds for investing in the equipments as the way invest in other activities.
  • Bad/poor treatment from their customers like productions supervisors and others.
  • Unwanted stress created during Maintenance and equipment failures.
  • Non availability of spares due to inventory and other investment issues.
  • Non availability of equipments for maintenance and demand for availability.
  • Poor support from other departments like stores, procurement etc.
  • No or less excess to the newer technology in the market.

IV. How to Motivate the Maintenance personnel

Maintenance person will be motivated if we help them to achieve the following :

  • Job satisfaction : Any maintenance person is best satisfied through the results which he gets, due to his work, put in for an hour to unlimited number of hours. For him this becomes the most memorable time and all his physical and mental fatigue is eliminated. He, at this time praises himself for the achievement. This makes a maintenance person a self driven individual throughout his career. At this moment if we appreciate his efforts, it becomes an event which remains forever in his mind. This becomes the motivation for him in the coming days. In most cases we fail to do so as we find that we have already lost few production hours due the problem which he was working on and we tend to blame them in place of appraising.
  • Recognition : recognition of good work at right time and the right place adds the value to any individuals life and hence as mentioned above, it becomes very important factor when we are praising a maintenance person.
  • Job Rotation/ Enrichment : These are considered to be the most driving factors for any individual in today’s work environment. But, for a maintenance person it  becomes daily as there is complete variation in his activities as well makes him to learn new things everyday to cater to his job requirements. However it is the responsibility of the supervisor and the management that we bring in the new technology as and when possible as frustrations will generate working with the same old technology.
  • Reduced Stress at work : This is a key factor for maintenance people as by default in every organizations, the maintenance crew is always available for work, round the clock. They generally work on all holidays, and Sundays, which brings in the disturbance of their work-life balance. This itself is a point for generation of stress for them and further to this when we have unexpected failures, the total pressure which is for the production targets is transferred to them. In this situation, we expected best from them and also with the maximum stress. We need to ensure that they are made comfortable to work in these situations, so that they can deliver faster and better.

Other benefits : This includes all the points we discussed in tangible and non tangible benefits. This may includes awards, transportation, promotions, salary revisions, etc.

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