Seeing the recent Forbes Article on The (Unlucky) 13 Traits of High Maintenance People it made me think. What are the traits of a high maintenance manufacturing organization or facilities?
So let’s look at 10 of the 13 categories from the article but in the context of manufacturing and reliability.
1 -They have urgent “needs.” To a high maintenance sites, everything is urgent. All the repairs and upgrades to their assets are done without proper planning or the lead time to properly source parts economically. They don’t use predictive technology to identify equipment problems in advance.
The 5 second solution: Set criteria for work that makes it clear what is an emergency repair and what should be planned and scheduled for the future. Emergent repairs can cost as much as 5 times as much to execute. Use predictive maintenance technologies like vibration analysis, ultrasound, etc. to help identify failures before they happen and proactively plan the repair. There is a great post here on some of the benefits of predictive maintenance.
2 – They have a sense of entitlement. Everyone deserves to be treated with equal respect. The high maintenance facility will expect more. They request more work in process inventory allocation, larger maintenance budgets, more staff and higher capital allotments.
The 5 second solution : Create benchmarks metrics that accurately represent the organizations or facilities and allow them to take a journey of self-discovery. This will enable them to challenge their own levels of entitlement, especially as they try to explain their variances.
3 – They could be self-sufficient. But they’re not. They constantly look to corporate for support and funds to improve the site and they blame their situation on the fact that they are not receiving the support they "need".
The 5 second solution: Build a plan to self-fund your improvement process. Many sites are able to start their improvements early in the fiscal year and generate the financial returns to offset the expenses prior to year end. The well thought out plan is the key to this success.
4 – They cling to stories of facility wrongs from the past. The high maintenance sites have a difficult time moving past real or imagined corporate wrongs. These may include corporate enforced reduction in force efforts, budget cuts, or failed past corporate initiatives.
The 5 second solution: As a leader, you do individuals locked into the “blame game” a favor by not playing into the negativity dialogue. “I’m sorry that happened. But you’re here now, things are different, and we have work to do.”
5 – They talk. Continuously. The high maintenance site thrives on attention. They have a continual need for others to hear what they have done. While discussion best practice sharing and brainstorming is necessary and healthy, these sites prefer to talk about what they have done not what they are going to do. They are not necessarily interested in improving; only showing what they have improved.
The 5 second solution: Finish every discussion and presentation with a challenge. "What are you going to do better and different to improve within the next year?"
6 – They are seldom satisfied. High maintenance sites will find the flaws in every situation. Even when they’ve been given extra care and attention, they will invariably find something wrong with the solution or service they’ve received. For example when they receive an opportunity to produce a new product they will only focus on how hard it will be with their existing equipment and resort to an additional capital request.
The 5 second solution: Make it clear that everyone understands nothing is perfect but that the site has the knowledge and skills to solve the problem and if and only if they can’t solve it should they return to corporate for additional support.
7 – They are high-strung. Not all high-strung organizations are high maintenance. But the organization with excessive needs will be persistently vocal and anxious about the things they require. They are the squeaky wheel in search of grease.
The 5 second solution: Again – it’s a dependency you shouldn’t encourage or feed.
8 – They live in a state of perpetual drama. If you are around a high maintenance site for an time at all, you will observe frequent periods chaos and turmoil. Every small inconvenience or mistake becomes a crisis.
The 5 Second solution: Take the time to list the common items that create their drama. Help them to create proactive plans for how each of these failures or issues is going to be dealt with.
9 – They handle money poorly. Regardless of the economy or circumstance, high maintenance sites continue to spend recklessly on inventory and parts. They use overtime like it is free. They don't think of the business cases behind the decisions they make.
The 5 second solution: Instill business case thinking using A3 documents or some other tool and ensure that they think from a life cycle costing perspective.
10 – They resent authority are often critical of other sites. It is extremely difficult for these individuals to respect corporate authority or to see the bigger picture. They focus only on their site and do not go out of their way to work to benefit the company as a whole.
The 5 second solution: Generally, in a case like this, there is direct intervention required. Remind the site that the business is like the body and one highly effective arm on body that is in a coma is useless.
By now you may be detecting a pattern of traits. Responsibility lies with the organization to create and reinforce a positive culture. Do you have a working environment that allows bad behaviors to take hold and fester? Do you actively feed and reward the positive behaviors? Do you set a good example yourself?