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What do work instructions have to do with leadership in reliability? A lot I'd argue. One of the most important parts of leadership in any type of organization, and definitely in the maintenance and reliability field, is setting clear expectations. If we want to be able to hold people accountable for doing a job properly, it is incumbent upon us to provide them clear instructions for doing so.One sure simple way is to “Lead by Example”.If you want your team to be accountable, you must show them first hand that you are willing to get your hands dirty and do any task you request of them.
Instructions can be verbal, and in many cases that is appropriate, and often a preferred way of ensuring that a team member clearly understands what expectations are in a given situation. In other cases for more generic things like taking time off, or how to route paperwork for purchasing, overall company policies will provide the necessary guidance. In the repetitive tasks of maintenance and reliability, where a supervisor is not expected to verbally direct the activities in each and every case, a clear, written work instruction is in order.
The what and how of creating a good work instruction are a topic for another day (actually for when I get better at doing this and can include the relevant content), but suffice it to say they should be clear, detailed, and regularly updated to reflect the status of the equipment. Work instructions act as your "expectations" for how maintenance will be performed, so ensure they reflect that. They will also be your training material for new technicians, so they need to be understandable from that point of view. Lastly, the work instructions you create should be sufficient to help create a culture of excellence that you want to foster in your organization.
There are so many benefits to having good work orders, including setting a clear expectation and providing accountability, providing a documented basis for training new individuals, and having a culture of excellence that is auditable to ISO and customer standards. The only question that remains is why doesn't everyone have them?