What's Your Vision of Your Future in Maintenance: Tips for transitioning to management

What's Your Vision of Your Future in Maintenance? Tips for transitioning to management By Fred Workley August 2000 Fred Workley is the president of Workley Aircraft and Maintenance Inc. in Manassas, VA. He is on the technical...

Inverted pyramid

You might base your vision on a model where the pyramid is turned upside down. Put the customer on the top. The employees are next to the customers and then there's you. Yes, you will do all the things a manager/supervisor needs to do, but you also have to create a vision. In essence, you have two jobs - one of a leader and one of a manager. It doesn't matter what your title is. If you develop a "service-driven" leadership vision, you are going to have to be personally committed to it. You also have to get everyone who works with you committed to this concept. Your challenge is to align everyone's goals so that everyone is headed in the same direction. This may mean empowering all the employees. Employees who like their jobs can also make you successful.

Your service-driven vision will require some key management values. Service and quality are going to be very important.

The customers are likely to be very happy to give you their money and loyalty. The people that work with you will feel that they have good jobs and they will be satisfied even if they have to put out 110 percent every day. They want to come back to work tomorrow. Survivability is one of the keys of profitability.

The impact of a change agent

You have to find an organization where you are comfortable being a member. I recently heard a fellow say that one-third of your life is spent a work. The impact your vision has really depends on whether you are a risk-taker. Any time you initiate change there is risk involved. Change is hard. We can view it as a circle. Out of confusion and chaos, sometimes spawned by anger and fear, there arise new opportunities. Resistance to any change leads to denial of any problems and a refusal to accept any guilt. Sometimes, it takes a personal shock to force any new risk-taking. This is how personal growth happens. When the new vision is accepted, then it promotes renewal and the organization is healthy. But after a while, unless there is sustained commitment, the contentment with the status quo sets in.

Building quality

Before we develop your vision, let's build a lot of paper airplanes. You're the leader of the project. You hold a meeting and tell everyone that you have one goal - which is to get the product out. You tell them to get the job done and to be successful so that you will look good. You tell them how the workflow for the proposed project will be set up, but you don't have time for questions because you have another meeting to go to. Think back to our pyramid models. Which way does your pyramid point? Are you being a leader or a manager?

If you look at the workflow as you announced it, customer satisfaction and quality are at the end of the process. Customer satisfaction needs to drive the process and quality has to be built-in by everyone. Quality can't be inspected into the product. Everyone who does every process along the way has to build in quality. If it's not there, then the rework will eat up any profit and no one is happy. Demanding people to make a lot of paper airplanes is not giving them your vision. Warren Bennis, author of the book Reinventing Leadership, summarized this very well. But, how would you state your vision for a team tasked to build a lot of paper airplanes? Here's my idea: Have our team build and assemble for our very discerning customers a lot of personalized high-quality, aerodynamic, environmentally-friendly, safe paper airplanes. After the team hears this, it's time to get their input. You may have to change the workflow for the proposed project to support your vision statement or change the vision statement.

Checking your vision

Visions provide a purpose that outlasts individuals and existing leaders. Good visions go beyond self-interests. They can't be solely based on financial gain or written in some program like Management-By-Objectives. A good vision is perceived as beneficial and desirable to customers, suppliers, and other employees. If it is written well and accepted, your vision engenders pride in the organization, team, and the individual. Above all, take ownership of it since it's your vision.

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