Who Cares?

No one… yet.

I’ve discussed assessing the alternatives before and I’ve stressed the importance of getting other people to care about the helpful and/or necessary changes you want to implement. Now I will teach you how to do that.

Not everyone will be as passionate about their work as you. Many maintenance folks expect to go in, complete the same processes, and get paid. They take comfort in their risk-free routines, so asking them to change it disrupts that sense of comfort, and they resist you. So how do you change their mind? You need a secret weapon. You need…

People skills.

Many of you may have felt the urge to jump into the nearest bush, or in your natural habitat, hide under your desk, or more realistically, stop reading. But you’re still here, so I commend you! As a reward, I will tell you the key to getting people on board with your ideas.

If you want people to risk stepping out of their comfort zone to implement your ideas, they need to trust you and be willing to listen, and this comes from a positive relationship. Make them like you, relate to you, respect you. How do you do that? And how much interaction would that take? It doesn’t actually take that much. Humans can make connections incredibly quickly. What you need to do is get them talking. Find out their interests. Find a point where you can relate, latch onto it, then segway to the thing you are trying to implement.

Here is an example from my career. There was this guy who always believed he had “been there, done that”, and didn’t think there were many options beyond his personal experience. I wanted to introduce him to a product  known as Torque Check to make sure our machines were held together as securely as possible with no loose bolts. This was a process meant to spot and solve a potential issue undetected by current methods, and it would change his routine. So I struck up a conversation with the guy, and found out he was fascinated by car mechanics. Similarly, I happened to love plane mechanics. So we bonded over our similar interests, and I eventually brought up Torque Check, a product applied by plane engineers before the plane is flown. I asked if he would be willing to try it on our machines. He resisted at first, but when I pointed out how reputable aircraft engineers are for their reliability, he decided to give it a go. He soon found how torque check made his job easier, and he introduced it to others, making their jobs easier as well. Thus a change was successfully implemented.

There you go. Maintaining a plant has always been and always will be a team effort. One individual cannot always solve a problem on their own, so if you have a solution that could benefit the team, you owe them that knowledge. Good teams communicate; good teams care enough to listen. Make sure all these interactions resemble teamwork discussion, and you’re golden.

If you would like to hear some more stories like this and learn some more implementing techniques come and join me on the next Extraordinary Reliability Engineer course. The first lesson is free and you can register on Eventbrite here.

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