Becoming a Good Maintenance Manager – Part One: Gaining Experience

Apr 15, 2019 11:14:34 AM

We asked seven seasoned maintenance managers about their experience and what they would recommend in order to become a maintenance manager.

We asked seven seasoned maintenance managers about their experience, what they would recommend in order to become a maintenance manager and how to be a good maintenance manager. We have shared their responses below which are very insightful. They have not been ordered in any priority or filtered in anyway. They are just the thoughts from experienced managers so review them and take the ones that make sense to you and use them as you progress your career as an aspiring or current maintenance manager.


The clear takeaway in all the responses was:


Look after the people, get out of the office and talk to the people, remove roadblocks and build a team of people that work together with mutual accountability and take ownership of the results, good or bad!


The guys we spoke to are all active in coaching the current generation of maintenance professionals. Feel free to contact them:

  • Ian Goodwin
  • Andy Malcolm
  • John Thomsen
  • Steve Flannery
  • Gerard Wood
  • Brett Peebles
  • Steve Mitchell


Also, if you find these useful please send us some feedback or comment on what other insights you may find useful in your career or work life.


Tips for getting the necessary experience to become a good maintenance manager

  • Develop a relationship with a mentor
  • Spend time in planning Supt role – understand the budget process and importance of planning
  • Spend time leading the most difficult execution team you can, develop strong people leadership skills through experience
  • Be prepared to spend 2-4 years in each Supt role. Project managing one shut does not make a manager!
  • Work as a maintenance supervisor very early in their career, it is character building
  • Work as a planner or at least do some time in the planning office
  • Work at reliability engineering and understand maintenance strategies and budgeting
  • Understand contracts, scopes, pricing and execution of the contract.
  • Have an in-depth knowledge of Safety, HR, and company policies.
  • My prep for this was good financial exposure with being an OEM MARC Manager developing and managing maintenance budgets and monthly P&L.


As a superintendent:

  • Review your own manning, look for efficiencies and make sure your team balance and crews are correct
  • Make sure your people are sitting in their logical locations and can work together
  • Make little things happen quickly e.g. purchase a tool that’ll make the maintainers lives easier
  • Ensure that planning leads to actual efficiencies on the job
  • Ensure supervisors follow daily and weekly routines and allow them to own the routines so that you can hold them accountable to what they said they would do
  • Keep good records of performance issues. HR can only help you if you have been open and honest with people and documented the discussions
  • Educate your entire team including maintainers on good work management and make sure there is discipline to the agreed processes
  • Coach the Supervisors. They are the meat in the sandwich so give them the skills to be good Supervisors. People management, work management process discipline, reliability, shutdown management, 5S standards
  • Review metrics daily, availability, utilisation, schedule compliance and take notice of how to improve the real outcomes, not just the metrics themselves


As a supervisor:

  • Have a parts failed bin under the shift start board. Make work quality a discussion topic at the start of every shift (See failed parts bin case study)
  • Have a good shift start whiteboard and be sure the days are well organised
  • Ensure the weekly schedule is published and visible for the maintainers and kept up to date
  • Review the equipment with the trades guys and challenge them to see who can find the most defects


We’ve also asked the group two other questions – what to do once you become a maintenance manager, and common errors to avoid.