Engineering Management

September 7, 2008
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Our award-winning columnist, Jeff Dearduff, takes a break from prepping for his golf tournament to outline some course management pointers that may help maintenance managers score a hole in one with their career.

Course Management

Concentrating on what’s happening in the workplace can be a difficult task, especially when distracted by the mental preparation for the World Amateur Handicap Championship, which was held at the end of August in Myrtle Beach, Fla.

As many of you know, golf is one of my great escapes and getting set for this tournament is something I always take very seriously. That’s because this tourney is as close as one like me can get to a professional tour event without sweating through PGA Tour Q-school. All summer, I have aimed to hit the longest drive “for show” and then tried to scramble my way back to the clubhouse.

However, as my level of intensity increased throughout my practice rounds, something changed. My determination to improve my score forced me to change my approach to my golf game from one of “hit and go find it” to one of course management.

As I pondered about my six-round route in the 100°F weather, the concept of  “course management” led me to understand how the game of golf can be compared to the tasks and responsibilities of a maintenance manager. How you manage the course of your career and the challenges that you face in the workplace will determine how you develop and succeed as a manager.

The workplace has evolved over the years and continues to change from how “it used to be.” Years ago, we spent a good part of our time working with equipment and tweaking processes to hone the performance of the plant. Our hands were on the fixes. Our people were used to working hard and serving the overall cause, not just showing up to work because they had to.

Ahh, those were the good ‘ol days.

When we think about the areas that we need to improve, we initially focus on technical training all too often. We also need to consider the areas of human resources and personal development, especially with the changing attitudes of the workforce, the rights that workers have today and the demands they place on management and their job environment.

It’s time to redirect the way we manage our own personal course. A quick search on the Internet will show you that workforce and personal development training is pretty broad, but you also will find that the topics are very specific and point at universal problems.

 Here are just a few common topics to look into:

Coaching for Success - Improve results through an organized process of show and tell.

Managing Resources - Since you can’t fit a rectangular peg into a square hole, managers need time to reassess the talents of an employee so they are paired up with the right tasks. In some cases, you’ll learn that you need to outsource to get the job done right.

Driving Performance - Rely on motivation and incentive programs to help improve overall performance of individuals and their work teams.

Conflict Resolution - Not all employees get along. That’s a fact of life. To resolve conflict in a successful manner, training in this area will help you deal with this issue professionally rather than trying to avoid it.

Diversity Training - Increase cultural awareness, knowledge and sensitivity to issues.• Time Management - You will find that you can’t actually manage time because time just happens, but you can organize how you use your time for best results.

Communication Skills - Learn the tools and methods to effectively enhance the exchange of information among your team members.

Creating Teams - A combination of various soft skills will present opportunities to recognize talents and pair up like individuals to tackle a project or accomplish another objective in the workplace.

Dealing with Change - Change doesn’t always have to be feared. Learn how to recognize and adapt to the ever-changing workforce in a successful manner.

Presenting Ideas - You don’t have to be in sales to sell an idea. Every management environment requires its own set of presentation and implementation skills. Sometimes you can sell your idea with facts and solutions, and other times you may have to do a more direct sell so it becomes another’s idea. Either way, figuring out the most effective approach is what you need to do before the meeting.

• Inspiring Loyalty and Trust - Quite a concept. Just think how well you and your team could perform with trust, which translates into loyalty, as the foundation of your work relationship.• Balancing Stress - Perhaps most importantly, juggling life outside of work, the demands of the job and the challenges your people face can create a ton of stress. However, learning how stress runs your life and finding ways to manage it will not only lead you to better days, but also extend your life above the dirt.

 Learning the course is one thing, but understanding where the course leads often requires a different set of skills. But after learning the new software program that runs the robot or sitting down with an employee and human resources to resolve a problem, the term “course management” will become a whole new meaning into your everyday work life.

It no longer will require scrambling back to the clubhouse. You’ll find yourself actually taking charge of your game. Research any of the choices mentioned above and start learning how to manage the course for your job and your life.


 By Jeff Dearduff

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