5 secrets to a successful operator care process

Giving your operators a reason and purpose for what you do is the value of a simple key performance indicator (KPI). This blog presents you with 5 secrets that will tremendously increase your chances of success.

11/14/2014


Let me make this one very simple: if you want to be an administrator, tell people what to do, if you want to be a true leader (and you do), tell people where we are going. Give them a reason and purpose for what we do. This is the value of a simple key performance indicator (KPI).

People are motivated by success and accomplishment. Very few people are motivated by compliance. Present your operator care teams with a simple metric (OEE, availability, tons per hour, etc.) and make this the focal point, the reason for doing what we are asking them to do.

Once you give them this crystal clear reason (and almost real-time knowledge of your current performance), only then can we present them with some simple tools that when applied, will make the chart move in the right direction.

One of the elements in a successful reliability strategy relates to the way that we embrace those who operate the equipment that we are responsible for maintaining. Yes, they are our customers, but equally important, they can very easily be our partners in success. Here are a few reasons why it is important to leverage the participation of our operators:

  • They spend their entire shift interacting directly with the equipment/assets.
  • There are quite a few of them and they are already paid for.
  • They are highly skilled, motivated, and capable.

If you want to be an administrator, tell people what to do, if you want to be a true leader (and you do), tell people where we are going. Give them a reason and purpose for what we do.My experience shows that when asked, operators are more than willing to participate in such an effort if it is presented to them correctly. Why not? When there are breakdowns, it makes the day more difficult for them, as well. It is in all of our shared interest to have reliable and smooth operations.

If they are so willing, then why do so many of these programs fail to gain traction? Why are our offices and break rooms filled with faded posters of good ideas gone bad? My belief is that the trick is in the way that we present things and how we care for such an effort in the weeks, months, and years ahead that makes a difference. Let me present you with 5 secrets that will increase your chances of success tremendously in no particular order. (Author’s Note: Most of these secrets are not really secrets and will work on other related efforts; they are not necessarily unique to the operator care process).

5 secrets to a successful operator care process

1. Make sure we know why we are doing this

If you want to be an administrator, tell people what to do. If you want to be a true leader (and you do), tell people where we are going. Give them a reason and purpose for what we do. This is the value of a simple KPI.

People are motivated by success and accomplishment. Very few people are motivated by compliance. Present your operator care teams with a simple metric (OEE, availability, tons per hour, etc.) and make this the focal point, the reason for doing what we are asking them to do.

Once you give them this crystal clear reason (and almost real-time knowledge of our current performance) only then can we present them with some simple tools that when applied, will make the chart move in the right direction.

1 Simple KPI = Success. No KPI or Too Many Complex Ones = No Success. 2. The devil is in the details

Now that we know why we are doing what we are doing, let’s get specific. I like to think about the types of activities that Operators can perform in order to support our reliability efforts with the following acronym:

Present the team with the KPI, then work with them to select the few important activities that can be performed to make the graph move in the right direction. Don’t focus on full coverage, or inspecting everything – every shift. Build the cause and effect relationship in their minds such that “If I keep X clean in this way and this often, then OEE will improve slightly.” Coach them to discover the details and be specific... and to grow the program as time goes on.

These are the types of activities that operators can perform in order to support our reliability efforts.Another tip is to think on a long timeline. Your current labor contract will not allow operators to lubricate? Okay, skip that one for now. Your operators don’t know how to repair X? Okay, let’s make a plan and pick 4 simple tasks that we will train them on over the next year. Pick only one per quarter. Let’s do it again next year. But let’s work with them to pick the right things that will have a positive effect on the KPI we selected.

3. Built by the people for the people

This one speaks directly back to secret No. 1 and the nature of a true leader. The team of people who participate in the operator care process (operators and maintenance technicians) must be a part of the design of the activities that they will perform in order to achieve results. I guarantee you this, if you sit in a darkened office and bang out a spreadsheet full of things for them to do, you won’t see much success.

Present the team with the challenge (a KPI) and then a set of tools to use (CLAIR) and coach them to success. We are not talking total anarchy here, but the people who will perform the activities must own them. If you design the activities, then the best you can hope for is compliance. If you present them with a KPI and some tools, then you have mapped a pathway to success.

Compliance is for participants, results are for winners!4. Make good on your promises

When we start such a process, we make some pretty big promises on how we are going to support the people and how things will be better. Remember those promises 3 months, 1 year, and 5 years down the road.

If an abnormality is reported as a result of this process, we either need to fix it right away or communicate back to the team why not and when we will get to it. Better yet, involve them in this decision process.

If they achieve some success as a result of their efforts, shout it from the mountain tops... give credit where credit is due.

If you have promised to come back and hear their concerns (what is working and what is not), make sure you do exactly that. And follow through on fixing the shortcomings.

You can’t expect your people to care any more about success than you do.

5. Make sure we all know it’s still important

Finally, realize that establishing such a process is like bringing a puppy home. Sure, it is all cute and fluffy at first, but some joke has to feed and clean up after it every single day. Even when it gets older and a little bit surly, someone has to be there for it. The same is true of our Operator Care process.

As a leader, commit to some time commitment for direct interaction and discussion on the process and stick to it.Set a schedule for interaction and stick to it. As a leader, commit to some time commitment (as little as 1 hour per month) for direct interaction and discussion on the process and stick to it. You only get the truth you seek out. You have to put on your boots and get out there with the people. See what they see. Hear what they are dealing with. Congratulate their success, and help them see an even brighter future. Do this as a habit and you will see results. Fail to do this and you will see faded posters in the break room.

Success at this takes work, much more work than it appears at a superficial glance, but it is valuable work. Valuable in that if we can heed this advice, we will see results, and that is all that really matters.

Best of Luck and Mahalo.

- Edited by Anisa Samarxhiu, Digital Project Manager, CFE Media, asamarxhiu@cfemedia.com 



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