Maintenance Technology October 2015 - (Page 6)
What's the Big Deal
About Work Culture?
hen businesses make capital investments in new facilities, equipment,
or technologies, they plan to achieve
a return on their investment (ROI)
in terms of reduced costs, improved margins, new
products, or greater market response. They also
plan for new business and work processes to bolster
and sustain their ROI. But what about their plans to
address changes in habits, behaviors, skill sets, and
leadership in the workplace-the work culture-to
assure the capital investment actually pays off in the
short and long term?
Work culture is the entire people side of a
business. It's how people behave individually and
collectively on the job. Quite often, our behaviors in
the workplace differ greatly from how we behave in
our homes, communities, and other organizations.
All too often, work culture is taken for granted.
"It is what it is," many people have told me. Yet,
what happens when an influx of new, state-of-theart equipment, facilities, and technologies, destined
to revolutionize business competitiveness, meets a
traditional "it-is-what-it-is" work culture head-on?
Before you over- or under-think this one, let's
examine some typical work-culture enablers.
Top-level leadership sets the tone of a work culture,
be it functional, dysfunctional, or exceptional. And
the faces of top-level leadership-upper management, union officials, governmental regulators, and/
or investors and boards of directors-call the shots
on how things will get done. Leadership kicks in
when such entities develop plans and strategies,
make policy-level decisions, and decide where to
spend resources to make new ventures successful.
The bulk of the organization is expected to
play follow-the-leader by developing tactics to
achieve the top-down plans and strategies and
making the policies (and work culture) come to
life in the workplace. Consider, for example, the
five basic business imperatives of environmental,
health, safety, quality, and reliability. In almost
every equipment-intensive business, none is more
important than another. These imperatives are
interdependent, i.e., they all depend on and affect
The confusion begins when top-level leaders
announce, "Safety is our top priority," which, in
turn, may compel some to ask, "What's the number
two priority?" and "Where does quality fit in?" and
"Isn't reliability important, too?" A work culture is
Expectations, accountability, and trust
Top-level leaders are responsible for setting
very clear expectations for capital-improvement
projects: goals, performance/outcomes, cost,
schedules, and a life-cycle plan. Then, once
the expectations are set, the leaders must hold
themselves and others accountable for achieving
these expectations. During this accountability
process, leaders watch, listen, learn, and take
action. Sometimes their actions are positive and
encouraging, which suggests that they feel a sense
of shared responsibility. Other times, their actions
can be negative and punitive, with no suggestion of
shared responsibility-call it blame. A work culture
is being formed.
Trust is gained and lost by the talk and the walk.
Leaders set the tone for a work culture of trust.
We've all learned that actions speak louder than
words. Leaders who walk their talk are positioned
to gain the trust of others in their organizations.
The degree of trust in leadership is very contagious throughout an organization. A leader earns
it. Setting the clearest of expectations with honest
accountability and a shared responsibility (as in "we
win or lose together") can help build trusting and
enduring relationships. Likewise, the lack of clear
expectations, followed by negative and punitive
degrees of accountability, can fuel a serious loss of
trust between those being led and the individuals
hoping to lead them.
Leaders who say (or demand) one thing and take
actions that are inconsistent with their words will
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Maintenance Technology October 2015
For on the Floor
Crushing Limestone with Reliability
Choose Reliability or Cost Control
Get To The Root of the Cause
Select the Right Safety Logic System
Simple Purchasing Practices Incite Lubrication Failure
CMMS Upgrade Tips
Maintenance Technology October 2015