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Topic Title: Help required: How to better audit my new engineering team
Topic Summary: Mechanical Engineering Team
Created On: 15 October 2012 08:39 PM
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 15 October 2012 08:39 PM
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AndrewMcAllister

Posts: 2
Joined: 15 October 2012

Hello all,

I currently run 2 teams of network and VC engineers which is inside my IS specialisation. I have recently been tasked with running an additional 15-man team who provide 24/7 watch keeping and maintenance of an array of Hard FM equipment: diesel engines, chlorination systems, cooling towers, CBRN protection systems, sewage systems etc.

I was asked to help out as the team had become moribund, lacked any sort of drive and poorly managed.

As I am not a mechanical engineer by trade, my solutions so far have been to instigate a formal training routine, supervising watch handovers and generally becoming their least favourite line manager.

I would appreciate any advice any advice on KPIs, audit, assurance or oversight techniques that any of you with a hard FM management experience can offer.

Many thanks,

Andrew McAllister
 16 October 2012 09:14 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: AndrewMcAllister
I was asked to help out as the team had become moribund, lacked any sort of drive and poorly managed.
[...]
I would appreciate any advice any advice on KPIs, audit, assurance or oversight techniques that any of you with a hard FM management experience can offer.

Hope you don't mind me saying, but that sounds like it is only going to make the situation worse! There is nothing more demotivating than having a new manager who starts measuring apparently random areas of your work and beating you up about them. My experience of managing engineers outside my speciality (in fact, all the engineers I manage are outside my speciality!) is that while you do need to keep them on track, you need to use their knowlege and experience to determine what that track should be. I would talk to them (or at least the most senior) individually to find out what the key requirements of the job are, and then explain how you are going to use your management skills to let them get on with their work whilst keeping the team on track and, in fact, improving. And talk to other parts of the company to find out how what they appreciate about your team, and what frustrates them. Then you can sit back and work out what you need to drive. Be humble about your knowledge of the team's work, but confident about your ability to make the team "better": better profile in the company and a better place to work.

Hope that helps! It's tiring work, but it can be done. Basically I guess it's what management is about!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 17 October 2012 03:20 PM
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philban

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Joined: 08 January 2004

I think a lot of it may be down to planning. What cyclic tasks do they have to carry out? If these are timed badly, staff may find that they have too much work one week and too little the next, or they are spending too much time travelling from one site to another.

The cyclic work should be set such that their work / travelling time is balanced.

The next is competence. There seems to be a wide range of equipment to have detailed knowledge and understanding. If you were to engage with the staff whilst they are doing their jobs, you'll get a much better feel for whether or not they are inside their 'comfort zone' in terms of underpinning knowledge. Nothing please people more than to be trained on stuff they deal with, but you can turn them off by sending them on courses for stuff they know about.

The next is the environment in which they work. Do they have to interface with operators who don't like them turning up to maintain stuff, thereby interrupting the process and affecting production? It can be really wearing having to stand around and wait to do your job.

My recommendation would be to delegate the management of the teams you have looked after for a while and get out and about with a few of your new team members who will very likely give you some suggestions as to which metrics to chose when it comes to measuring their performance.
 19 October 2012 11:08 AM
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MAXMIRA

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Originally posted by: amillar

I would talk to them (or at least the most senior) individually to find out what the key requirements of the job are.



I also have extensive experience in this field and i have found the best method is to discuss KPI's with the staff and get them to highlight monitoring strategies.

Once the KPI's are agreed (generally the ones selected by the staff) i have an age old method of using monthly meetings to show league tables of the team members with respect to the KPI's that they suggested.

This has worked great for me as nobody wants to be bottom of a league table effectively created by fellow workers. I suppose you could call it a name and shame session, this might not work for all but i found it great and you will be surprised how the slackers soon find a way to get off the bottom of the table.

My management style does not suit all but i am a great believer in highlighting and eliminating under performance rather than praising mediocre performance.
 19 October 2012 12:15 PM
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DavidParr

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Sorry Maxmira but I think that your method is awful as it sets up competition within the team. In my experience, a team working together and putting all their competitive effort towards making sure they do a good job, wins every time.

Regards,

-------------------------
David Parr BSc.CEng MIET
PRA
 19 October 2012 12:43 PM
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MAXMIRA

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Originally posted by: DavidParr

Sorry Maxmira but I think that your method is awful as it sets up competition within the team. In my experience, a team working together and putting all their competitive effort towards making sure they do a good job, wins every time.



Regards,



I disagree competition within a team is healthy, it lifts the individuals to a higher level thus increasing the teams overall output. Also, i have found that using this method brings a team together to raise individuals output level.

How can a team ever work to its full potential if it cannot raise the performance or remove its weakest links.

Remember the key to this strategy is to speak to the team and implement KPI's chosen by the team not the management. This is a way of routing out under performance in a manner that the team decides.

You will always get slackers in any team, I've found other colleagues using 'softer' tactics and having opposite results in that the more efficient members of the team drop to the levels of the less efficient members. After all why should the more efficient member work harder than their colleagues if they are not recognised on an individual basis.

We are all human and the majority of us go to work for personal gains, therefore, although i believe in teamwork the best teams are a group of the best individuals. Hence, concentrating on individual behavior does not allow less efficient staff to hide behind the 'team'.

As i stated previously this tactic is not for all but it has worked for me at several different levels and industries.

I think you will find that at higher levels of management and where higher commercial gains are present such a method is used extensively.

David
 19 October 2012 01:34 PM
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DavidParr

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I agree that, in some areas of senior management, in some companies (not the one I work for by the way!), there can be the opportunity for this terrible in-fighting, but the perpretators are looking out for themselves and not for the greater corporate good.

A good team uses synergy to add to their success. The positive combination of different talents. No room for inward looking competition if you are to get the best out of people.

Direct your energy positively and outwards. It has always worked for me.

Best Regards,

-------------------------
David Parr BSc.CEng MIET
PRA
 19 October 2012 05:21 PM
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AndrewMcAllister

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David(s), Phil, Andy,

Thank you for your contributions, I'm glad to see at least I've started a debate!

It's great to see that many of your suggestions are things I have already introduced and that I'm aiming roughly at the target.

One thing I have yet to do is map out a 2-year plan of where we want to be, I'll brief them on that next week. I'm sure they will likely lap up the competition element - I look forward to introducing a monthly "whoever has the greatest percentage of PPM tasks uncompleted makes the coffee" award.

Thanks again for your input.

Yours,

Andrew
 20 October 2012 11:22 AM
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philipoakley

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Originally posted by: DavidParr

Sorry Maxmira but I think that your method is awful as it sets up competition within the team. In my experience, a team working together and putting all their competitive effort towards making sure they do a good job, wins every time.


The work of John Seddon at Vanguard Consulting confirms this mistaken belief that folks have any real control of their work environment and the random chances that are offered up. His book Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work is worth a read.

They (staff) are rarely at the bottom of the 'league table' because of their own performance - the system contributes 90%. Have a look at the later parts of the video Hayley believed performance was down to the efforts of the individuals in a sales team, who should therefore be incentivised with targets.

The key in the nominal Plan/Do/Check/Act cycle is never to start at Plan because all it does is reinforce (badly) our own biases. We need to get out and Check what is really happening (informed learning) before we can help others. We do need to see that big picture, as well as the little details.

-------------------------
philip oakley
 21 October 2012 12:26 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
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Originally posted by: DavidParr
Sorry Maxmira but I think that your method is awful as it sets up competition within the team. In my experience, a team working together and putting all their competitive effort towards making sure they do a good job, wins every time.

I also fully agree with David here, it just breeds resentment for whoever's at the bottom of the table (and someone's got to be how ever hard they try), and, even worse, it breeds an atmosphere of secrecy and sloping shoulders so that your team can win at the expense of the other teams - which has killed many a company. A spirit of competition with rival companies, on the other hand, is essential - and here the right KPIs can be useful.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 21 October 2012 01:32 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: DavidParr
I agree that, in some areas of senior management, in some companies (not the one I work for by the way!), there can be the opportunity for this terrible in-fighting, but the perpretators are looking out for themselves and not for the greater corporate good.

That is why companies require good management. Often the problem is that a new system is introduced which fails and rather than the management see their own failing they look elsewhere and all agree it was the system. There is nothing at all wrong with healthy competition or measuring performance but there is a whole lot wrong with poor management. If a company had 'terrible in-fighting' then there is a clear failure in management.
A good team uses synergy to add to their success. The positive combination of different talents. No room for inward looking competition if you are to get the best out of people.

If we take a look around the world we see 10's of thousands of good teams and the same number of reasons for the teams being good. Many of those teams use inward looking competition to create success but their management manage it. There is no one type fits all and in the end it is for the local management to implement a system which they are able to manage and not be implementing systems that they cannot manage.

In addition to this there are different stages in managing a team and so one method of management does not work in the same team and over many years, the management methodology has to evolve with the team. Sometime we have to start off with strong leadership and then when the team is going in the correct direction start to involve them more in leading themselves and so on. The starting point can be that the team requires strong management whereas the end point can be that it can manage itself.

Regards.
 22 October 2012 10:54 AM
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MAXMIRA

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Originally posted by: westonpa

There is no one type fits all and in the end it is for the local management to implement a system which they are able to manage and not be implementing systems that they cannot manage.



Regards.



I agree completely, also different managers may be able to implement certain strategies better than others. I think it's a combination of a manager finding the right strategy that suits both the team and his own personality.

Blue Sky thinking is not suitable for all posts, although many so called 'management consultancy' firms would like us to think so.
 03 April 2013 03:55 PM
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johnkisaac

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Joined: 03 December 2010

Wow, what a lot of knowledge and experience that is being shared here.
Just thought I'd chip in with a couple of pence worth that has worked for me.
Try to build rapport first, people need to build trust before anything else can move on.
Talk to the people, ask them what they think / feel / know about what should be done.
Listen to the replies. There will be usually a lot of noise about pay / conditions / kudos etc, but behind all the bitching and moaning will be the real motivational issues. You have to listen hard to cut through the chaff to find what is going on.
Use the guy's knowledge and experience to develop you plan, but above all, make sure you stick to what you say you are going to do. That doesn't mean you are not flexible, the plan will morph as it develops, but if you have stated the end position you will get there.
I know this isn't a silver bullet, but in my experience, this will take time.
Hope this helps.
J
 04 May 2013 08:22 AM
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sandip

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If a manager can define the job statement for his stuff then it would become very simple to manage & track their activities.He has to support them only in critical areas e.g anything hindering to explore their knowledge & experience. Motivation of stuff with delegation authority improves thinking level & performance.

I always try to grow ownership interest among department people.That makes my work easier.
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