Supervising Maintenance

Becoming 'YOUR BEST' Maintenance Supervisor


“A real leader or supervisor’s success is not solely measured on their personal ability, but is better measured by the success of the team they lead. This success is based both on the personal and professional growth of the team they lead.” R. Scott Smith.


It can take years, if not decades, to realize the wisdom of the quote above. Becoming a great Maintenance Supervisor and demonstrating true leadership requires the mix of the right traits, skills that are honed through the years, and the maturity and humility to learn from mistakes.

Maintenance Supervisors are the front line of leadership; they are the ‘sharp end of the spear’!

Management Insight: How to Quantify Lost Production

I work with organizations around the world. With every group of managers, I ask one simple question: What percentage of your time do you actually spend supervising or managing your staff? The results are staggering: less than 10 percent.

When I ask managers to explain the reasons, I receive varying explanations. Mostly, supervisors and managers say they need to watch their workers to make sure they do what they are actually supposed to do. I looked up the definitions of supervise and manage, and in neither case did I see a mention of babysitting.

When I worked as a plant manager, I used to cross the title off my business cards and replace it with vice president of child-care services. Why? Because some days, that title best defined my duties. I lost track of the truly important responsibilities: managing the business, coaching, mentoring, and ultimately, improving the department's performance and the organization's bottom line.

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:

Maintenance Supervisors – Are They Set-Up for Success or Failure?

Is your organization proactive about training or do they opt for the “Baptism by Fire” approach? 

Success and Failure

Too many facilities I visit have no formal training plans. A key position which training is often overlooked is supervision.  The common misconception is that because the individual was a good maintenance mechanic or technician, they must automatically default to being a good maintenance supervisor.  I tend to believe not.  I would rather see good employees promoted to make excellent maintenance supervisors and given the appropriate support to assure their success, rather than setting them up for failure. Success requires a comprehensive understanding of the new role and responsibilities. Often the best way to attain this understanding is through training

Frontline Supervisors are Key to Continuous Improvement

Supervisors and team leaders are crucial to Continuous Improvement (CI) efforts.  The reason is that often it is a frontline supervisor who provides personnel time to particip

ate on the CI teams as well as the production equipment for the Basic Equipment Care (BECWs) workshops. Supervisors do this at the expense of their own production goals.

In return for their support of the company's continuous improvement goals, they often are left out of the CI team.

Supervisors are often kept out of ‘the loop' because some believe that by including a supervisor on a BEC team their mere presence may inhibit participation and idea sharing as their subordinate team mates become subservient to their thoughts and ideas. A solution to this possible problem is to ensure that the supervisor participates on teams that are not associated with their area of responsibility. Even so, this alone is no reason to exclude such an important individual.