How to Develop Capability within Your Team

Author: Gerard Wood

The age-old question: What if we develop our people and they leave? More importantly, what if we don't and they stay?

We all know that, as a maintenance manager, we can only be as successful as the capability of our people who do the actual work. To continually develop the department's skills and abilities, a plan that is managed and driven by the maintenance teams is required.

Over the years, we’ve learned there are four key principles to bear in mind:

Supervisors must care enough to make sure development plans are in place

Supervisors must take the responsibility of ensuring there is a plan for each of their tradespeoples’ development. It is the direct supervisor who knows the skills and capabilities of the people in their team. In the same way, the superintendent knows the capacity of the supervisors in their department, and so on.

Although it’s common to find that the training matrix and development plans reside with the human resources or training function on a site, the leader is accountable to ensure each person in their organisation has a development plan. Don’t palm it off to HR or Training – they can help you to build them, but it’s the job of a leader to make sure they’re done.

Individuals are responsible for their own development

Although supervisors must ensure development plans are in place, leaders must make sure their people know it is their responsibility to progress the actions detailed in their plan.

Ensure your people understand this principle, and recognise that they must be active in progressing their development with the support of the business.

There is a common misconception the company will be thinking about where an individual needs to go in their career. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Only the individual can determine their career path, and the responsibility for development always sits with the individual.

Nearly all companies have a performance review process where the personal development plan is discussed. In these meetings, openly talk about the responsibility of the individual to be sure this is understood.

We learn by doing

Training is an essential part of development, but most of the learning actually comes from implementing what was learned once you’re back at site.

It’s crucial to remember that not all development even requires a formal training program. When we create the development plan, make sure to include workplace activities such as running a project, stepping up into a role, and getting experience working alongside a team member who already has these capabilities.

These on the job activities create the majority of the growth, even if a pre-requisite is a small training program such as KT Project Management.

Don’t forget the equipment

When thinking about training, it is also common to see training matrices full of programs such as isolation, working at heights and condition monitoring fundamentals. These are all of the types of programs that are just required to work on the site.

But we must think about being adept in a role.

Don't forget about the equipment-specific training and development for trades and technical positions. The more our teams understand the equipment, the better equipped they are to ensure the reliability and do the maintenance tasks to the correct quality.

Fundamentally, if a company (i.e. the leaders) genuinely care about the development of the people in their teams, they will create a culture where there is not only a high-level of capability, but their team is empowered, and people want to stay and grow.