I am walking through public schools on a weekly basis and most of the time I am led through a building by the director of maintenance. No matter the size of corporation the maintenance directors usually fall in one of two categories. The calm, cool, and collected director or my hair is on fire director. I try to ask probing questions to learn about how they run their department and below are a few observations from each side.
Calm, Cool, and Collected
These directors are typically able to see the big picture. They put preventative measures in place and keep track on a log that is reviewed at least monthly. They typically do a fantastic job of training their staff and trust them as they delegate duties. One director in particular has done a terrific job of training the entire teaching staff to be on alert for potential safety hazards, the staff then reports those hazards to the director for review. This helps as they are prioritizing fixes as well as catching things early when a fix could be less expensive.
Hair on Fire
These directors are going a thousand miles an hour all day every day. They work very hard, but sometimes not very smart. Many times when I walk through buildings with them they show temporary fixes just to get them through until they have time to fix things right. The problem is that they never find that time. The temporary fixes will fail and cause larger damage. These corporation directors often have high turnover and try to do everything themselves.
The good news is that a culture can be established, but it must start from the top. Superintendents can create a culture of safety and respect by giving their maintenance directors the power to train their staff and fix what is broken the right way. Too often maintenance directors feel like if they spend any money then they will be reprimanded for it. What could have been fixed correctly for $200 may turn into a $5,000 injury claim and a lawsuit.
Look at your organization with an objective eye and see what kind of culture you have established. If you need ideas on how to establish a culture of safety and respect, reach out so we can talk about how to help make that happen.