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...


Vision promotes commitment by challenging, energizing, and inspiring. You need to picture a future condition that is realistic, credible, possible, and yet very ambitious. A good vision provides a sense of importance and thus has the ability to make a difference.

Sometimes a good vision gives greater meaning to routine tasks and may have the effect of empowering the people you work with. The impact will be the degree to which people feel they have the power to act on their own, rather than waiting to be told what to do.

Creating vision

You must think like an owner of the business. Next, you must focus on the "core" business issues and problems - not symptoms. You need to visualize and think about all the possibilities beyond today's reasonable expectations. Keep the customer always in mind and visualize the business/team from the customer's perspective. Go beyond the traditional model with its built-in boundaries. You need to gather information effectively from every possible source. You need to actively listen to internal and external customers as well as team members at every level of activity.

Please feed the managers

Team feedback is giving and gaining support. It eliminates dumb rules, artificial obstacles, and slow bureaucracy. Your vision supports the team even during times of disappointment or failure. Through feedback you can effectively utilize recognition to reward excellent performance and good ideas. It helps you allocate and share resources within and between functions in the interest of achieving the overall business goals.

Feedback supports you for standing up for what is needed and right for the team. When someone who reports directly to you makes a viable proposal, you should vigorously pursue the approval and support of the whole team. The objective of the team feedback is to encourage you to make decisions based on knowledge, logic, and facts.

There are several elements of team feedback associated with taking the initiative for change. Initiative often has some calculated risk associated with a particular action. However, aggressively pursuing all opportunities may create a competitive advantage. You have to assume the responsibility for facing all open issues promptly and seeing they are resolved. The "not my job" attitude stifles initiative. Showing initiative will implement any required actions instead of waiting for higher management approval. The end result is that you anticipate and initiate positive change before any crisis develops. Unfortunately, this will require you to make some difficult decisions even when the required data is scarce or not available.

Delegating ownership

As a leader with a vision, you need to encourage the identification of new opportunities to pursue so that your organization can create a competitive advantage. You can do this by focusing on performance instead of effort. Get everyone to work smarter, not harder. Select effective team members bring many skills to the team. It's up to you if you can accept an environment that can accept failure in pursuit of new opportunities. This often encourages team members to take calculated, carefully thought-out risks. Also, delegating ownership strengthens the individual team members. When you delegate ownership effectively, you act as a coach instead of a player. You have less temptation to jump in and do the job yourself.

But I just wanted to fix airplanes

By now you are saying, "I just wanted to fix airplanes." We're not done yet. Here are some suggestions to get others to share your vision.

You must clearly and consistently communicate long-range directions. Always involve all the team members in developing long-range objectives, possibilities, and plans of action. Now that feedback is coming to you, you must, in turn, provide frequent and specific feedback to everyone else. This two-way information street creates an environment that supports informal and open communications. When decisions are made openly, they generally support the organization's long-range objectives. This shared vision helps demonstrate your integrity and instills trust and credibility.

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