Be an Effective Maintenance Supervisor

‘Maintenance Supervision’ is an important topic that we have been talking about recently. Maintenance Supervisors play an integral role in joining the dots between management goal setting and actual performance. They are management’s front-line task force, delivering unity between daily operation and strategic direction. The role of the supervisor is riddled with challenges that require a niche skill-set; for example, amongst being the orchestrator for hitting performance targets, on time and on budget, they are required to effectively motivate employees and cultivate an environment of team-work and continuous improvement. This is a specialist position that deserves respect. 

To be successful, a maintenance supervisor must have the following traits:

  • Loyalty
  • Self Confidence
  • Consistency and Fairness
  • Tact and Courtesy
  • Sincerity and Integrity
  • Positive thinking
  • Decisiveness
  • Has an interest in people

One of the issues that we have highlighted previously is the arbitrary nature by which many supervisors are promoted and the lack of support they receive in their new position.

A key skill area often overlooked when promoting new maintenance supervisors is that of people management. An effective supervisor requires the soft-skills to manage and motivate people.  Something all good supervisors realize early in their position is that there is a fine line between being friendly and being friends; it is the supervisor’s role to be the former.

To be effective a maintenance supervisor, or any supervisor for that matter, must be able to:


  1. Delegate
  2. Appropriately Use their Authority
  3. Set a Good Example
  4. Recognize the Change in their Role
  5. Show Desire for the Job


We have established, very briefly, the niche skill-set required for the role of maintenance supervisor. The other important aspect of being a successful supervisor is as much about avoiding tasks they used to perform than it is about doing the right things well. Make sense? Here is a list of activities that a supervisor should no longer perform:

    • Maintenance Planning & Scheduling
    • Turning wrenches
    • Allowing work to be done without a work order (normal circumstances)

Supervisors should NOT be turning wrenches!

  • Allowing craftspeople to alter work schedule
  • Allowing craftspeople to alter priorities
  • Allowing craftspeople to say the job is complete without doing the necessary paperwork correctly
  • Allowing craftspeople “pad” the paperwork
  • Allowing craftspeople to work without proper safety equipment or following procedures
  • Supervising “from the office”

For organizations to run efficiently, individuals must perform the tasks their position commands. The transition from a trades person to supervisor is challenging. However, the sooner the change in tasks and responsibility is realized, the more effective they will be. Maintenance supervisors must now focus on: 

  • Providing personnel availability
  • Assigning daily work to crews; distributes work packs
  • Determining priorities and alters daily schedule as required
  • Obtaining emergency parts, requisitions, arrange for contractors, etc.
  • Providing information on carryover and on-going jobs
  • Working with Scheduler to reschedule “Held” work for later date
  • Providing information to Scheduler for updating the daily work schedules
  • Ensuring daily work is completed; work packs are completed
  • Completing report on reasons for not meeting schedule

If maintenance supervisors are given the support and training they require for their specialist position they will be far more effective. The benefits of an effective, formally trained supervisor can be incalculable. Treat this position with respect, or deal with the consequences at your peril. 

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