Jump to content
Test ×
Raul Martins

Rewarding a forever fixing culture

Recommended Posts

Hi all,


For this week’s topic, we will be discussing the still quite common “forever fixing culture”.

Finding companies/plants that work in a run to failure culture is definitely not a hard task and I am pretty sure that we all have gone through this situation before at least once.

Basically, those sort of cultures are part of a vicious cycle composed by reactive maintenance actions, “quick solutions” and a vital thing that keeps it alive: rewarding the forever fixing culture.

Regarding such topic, nothing better than these paragraphs written by Ramesh Gulati on his book “Maintenance and Reliability Best Practices  - Second Edition”:

 

“For decades, we have had a system of reward that has created a misaligned culture. Design teams are rewarded for achieving functional capability at the lowest cost; they usually are not really concerned about the downstream problems for operations and maintenance and the true life-cycle cost of ownership of the asset. Production teams are rewarded when they beat a production number, regardless of any real demand for the product or without any concern for the effect their actions have had on the asset health.

Maintenance teams always have been rewarded for fixing asset failures and not improving reliability or availability. They get extra pay for coming in at inconvenient times when the asset is broken and get “attaboys” from the management to fix it. If we are rewarded for failures, why would we want reliability? Who would step up and volunteer for a 15–20% pay cut for reduced overtime?

People don’t pay as much attention to what their managers say with words as compared to what they actually do. If management says they want reliability — no failures or minimum failures — but they keep paying for failures, we will continue to get failures. This culture needs to be changed and improved.”  

 

Have you seen this sort of behavior from Maintenance Managers? How about Project and Production teams?

Have you been rewarded for failures?

 

Regards,
Raul Martins
 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Raul,

I am quite sure that every maintenance manager have been “rewarded for failures” in the past. I have been rewarded for it as well. The truth is that quick intervention to repair a failed machine have always made a maintenance engineer or manager look like a hero. According to Ramesh, “this culture needs to be changed” if the managers really desire Reliability and reduced cost because if “we keep paying for failures, we will continue to get failures “.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Raul said, "Finding companies/plants that work in a run to failure culture is definitely not a hard task and I am pretty sure that we all have gone through this situation before at least once." I'd go much further than to say it's not a hard task. It's downright easy to find them. As trainer and adviser who is often asked to help with cost reduction or to improve availability, it is that "break then fix" culture that I am frequently confronted with. To me it's endemic and it's usually a systemic problem as described by Ramesh. We do reward the wrong behavior and then enhance it by allowing those who don't really know how to get out of it, or even care about getting out of it, to run the circus.

Of course, when confronted with a solution which isn't going to be easy to implement, they end up changing nothing and living with the status quo. 

Every case is a bit different, but there are some similarities. If the situation described has persisted, and there is a maintenance manager who has been there for a while, then we have an ineffective manager who tolerates it all and fails to lead change. He may not really be strategically minded enough to see what's really going on or perhaps he cannot communicate the consequences of it effectively to his superiors at senior management and executive levels. Maybe he does all that but they don't listen. There's no shortage of incompetent managers in all disciplines either.

The smartest that I usually encounter tend to be either enlightened operations or financial folks. Once they understand what is going on, they become allies in solving the problem. Things do need to explained to them in terms they grasp. Our typically technical jargon laden talk with no apparent connection to output and costs and profits is not going to cut it.

How many of us truly understand what we need to do to increase return on assets? Hint to engineers: project ROI doesn't cut it. Hint to production: meeting your shift quota at the expense of the next shift doesn't cut it. Hint to maintenance: fixing it when it breaks doesn't cut it. The problem is more complex than a single fix. 

Rewards can work if they are crafted well, but that crafting is no small or simple task.

You must reward for the behavior you want. To begin with, you need to know what behavior (in all disciplines) will lead to the objectives you set (usually profitability). Overtime - not a reward, usually an entitlement. Cut it as your peril, unless you replace it with something else - increased wages for normal time, and let them have more time with family, etc.

What keeps most of us from speeding? Traffic tickets, points off our license and increased insurance premiums. The 15 or 30 minutes of downtime while the cop writes out the ticket isn't much of a penalty, so there's more to it than that. Downtime on a production line is like waiting for the copy.

So let's give our production managers speeding tickets. If every hour of overtime worked by maintenance were treated as an hour of lost production (e.g.: 1 hour overtime = 1 hour's worth of output that is subtracted from the actual total), and the production managers held accountable for it, they'd be less keen to achieve short-sighted shift targets. Imagine the impact of a 3 hour delay in production while 3 maintainers scramble for parts. That's 9 hours of production loss (on paper) for a 3 hour outage. Their quota's won't be met and they'll need to find ways to avoid the overtime. Oh, and by the way, running the plant to destruction in one shift then fixing  it on the next supervisor's shift won't work - measure this on a monthly basis and reward all production supervisors and managers equally. 

Hold maintenance and production and stores managers all equally responsible for availability. None of them gets a bonus unless they all achieve it together. Likewise, hold the three of them responsible for inventory turns and stock-outs, and for production output over a longer period (say a month), rather than shift by shift. They may not all know what to do to achieve all of those on their own, but together, they can. 

Want proactive behavior? Reward for PM's achieved on time (to the day first scheduled), not just within the month or week. Missed PMs = missed bonus for both production and maintenance managers as well as their supervisors. If they find the PMs aren't "working", then they can get some help from those who can identify why and fix it. There are plenty of us out there.

Of course that's not easily done and it requires shifts in how people are compensated and in how senior management chooses to lead. HR and Finance will need to think about rewards and they'll need help from those who understand maintenance, supply chain and production to get the mix right. Profit sharing and gain sharing on a wide-spread basis are entitlements, not rewards. In most cases the workers have no influence or control over profitability - market prices and overall operating costs dictate that. At best they influence tiny amounts around the fringes. 

There is much that can be said and done about this one. It requires some real fortitude to tackle it though. Let me ask you all a question: 

Does the leadership  in your company have what it takes to implement such a sweeping change to compensation, reward and measurement regime to actually get what they say they want?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @Kenny,

I agree with you. Fixing quickly have made many professionals look like a hero, while those who focus on avoiding the failures are not seen like that.

I find it important to have a mixed team, in which you have those who are more "reactive" but would fix quickly, working along with those who focus on a proactive approach. Having a diverse team can be highly beneficial for improving reliability. 

However, it has to be clear for everyone what has been chased: a "fix forever" culture, instead of a "forever fixing" one. For this, the manager's attitude is vital.

 

Regards,

Raul Martins

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @UptimeJim,

I like the "same goals for different areas" approach. I have seen many companies in which areas, such as Maintenance, Production, HR, IT have different and many times, conflicting goals. Hence, instead of helping each other to build positive and better results, they work as different small companies inside of another company. Maintenance looking after availability, while Production looking after productivity or HR decreasing salaries or budgeting less money for training.

 

On 2/6/2020 at 10:34 PM, UptimeJim said:

how senior management chooses to lead

If senior management do not see the big picture of how to achieve solid results by eliminating those "small companies" and making areas working together, the staff members will keep struggling to improve any results.

 

Regards,
Raul Martins

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and use of We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..