It’s been said before, “The times they are a’ changin’.” When it comes to today’s RAM arena, that statement is so very true. Industry’s need for quality maintenance-skilled trades has never been more acute. This difficult situation is due, largely, to these three factors: the expected post-pandemic uptick in building and manufacturing production, coupled with continuing retirements of baby-boom maintainers (57+-yrs-old), and beginning retirements of Generation-Xer (41- to 56-yrs-old).
While tough news for industry, this is exciting news for the “new order” of maintainers who are poised to take on positions of seniority, and for all apprentices, apprentice-hopefuls, and recently-licensed skilled-tradespersons. To the new order, I would like to pass on the following advice that my own mentors shared with me over time. It has had an enormous impact on my working life.
1. Approach your work every day as if you are self-employed. You are the one in control of whom you work for, when you come to work, and the effort you put in. You have a mutually binding contract with an organization that has agreed to pay you a defined amount of compensation in return for carrying out a defined scope of work on a daily basis. Your employer is your number-one customer. As long as the customer (your employer) believes it is receiving value, and you (the supplier) believe you’re receiving adequate compensation for services rendered, the relationship will remain in balance. As soon as that balance changes on either side, however, you become vulnerable.
2. Stand out as a valuable asset in the organization. Doing so requires you to be open-minded and to think entrepreneurially. Have the mindset of someone who is self-employed, and execute work as if you are being paid based on your performance. Develop a sense of customer relations, and make an effort to understand your customers’ needs and how they like to served. If the people around you like and respect you, they’ll forgive small errors, and be willing to serve as a reference, if and when you need one.
3. Establish a difference between you and other employees in your workplace. Develop a unique and innovative approach to work. Potential employers are more interested in “how YOU personally made a difference, rather than what you “did” in your last position. Always keep a “little’ black book,” in which you record any innovative approach or suggestion for improvements that you make. To learn more about this topic, read my July 18, 2021, article, “Leverage ‘Wisdom Keeping’ Little Black Books” (see link below). For any of your improvements that are implemented successfully by the company, write up a small case study for future reference.
4. Invest in yourself by subscribing to/reading respected industry publications and keeping up-to-date on best practices, technologies, philosophies, trends, and tools related to your profession and industry. (BTW: Here’s hoping that you are already subscribing to The RAM Review’s free weekly newsletters, “Dispatches From The Plant,” and accessing the many practical, expert-driven technical articles on our website.)
In addition, as COVID loosens its grip, live maintenance conferences and training events will return (they already are). Thus, build a case for your attendance/participation at such events by reading the agenda material and showcasing, in a report for your management, how specific technical-conference information could help facilitate improvements at your site. You also could choose to self-invest and offer to cover some conference expenses by donating vacation time for an event (not unlike a self-employed person would do).
5. Enhance your knowledge and add to your job title. Research and begin work on attaining a professional maintenance designation such as a CMRP (Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional). Or add a lubrication certification, such as MLT (Maintenance Lubrication Technician) or CLS (Certified Lubrication Specialist), to your professional credentials.
6. Prepare (and regularly update) a resume that focuses on what makes you different and more hirable than all your other colleagues who might be looking for that elusive new job. With your newfound confidence and approach to work, you are more likely to be the candidate of choice for any new position that interests you, whether it’s with your current employer (or customer) or with a potential new employer.
Keep in mind, when all is said and done, that you are “the boss” of your life. So, go ahead: Make your mark.TRR
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken Bannister has 40+ years of experience in the RAM industry. For the past 30, he’s been a Managing Partner and Principal Asset Management Consultant with Engtech industries Inc., where he has specialized in helping clients implement best-practice asset-management programs worldwide. A founding member and past director of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada, he is the author of several books, including three on lubrication, one on predictive maintenance, and one on energy reduction strategies, and is currently writing one on planning and scheduling. Contact him directly at 519-469-9173 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, professional development, professional certification, skilled trades