Five Things That I’ve Learned in Five Months in Maintenance & Reliability Talent

Adrian Messer | Vice President of Executive Services, Progressive Reliability, LLC

After spending nearly two decades helping people solve problems related to physical assets and asset reliability, earlier this year, I decided it was time for a change and stepped into the maintenance and reliability talent acquisition and staff augmentation field.  In my initial conversations, to many, that seemed like a major change, but when it’s further looked into, not really.  When it comes to maintenance & reliability talent and staffing, it’s still working with companies to find solutions to their problems.  In this case, it’s the problem of talent, staffing, and people.

Recent studies have shown that there is a coming resurgence of manufacturing back to North America.  Industrial and manufacturing facilities should act now to improve upon their hiring processes.  The same tactics and negotiations that have been used over the last several decades can no longer be used in the current job market.  Currently, It’s definitely a job seekers market, and we are seeing where job security is high, but job satisfaction is low.

So, over the last 5 months, I wanted to share some thoughts and observations from maintenance & reliability talent acquisition and staff augmentation.  These observations and experiences over these last few months are an effort to shed some light for those who are struggling with not only attracting the right M&R talent, but also to retain those individuals and provoke thoughts and action to improve your current hiring process.

  1. There are more talented maintenance and reliability professionals out there than I ever realized, but the hiring process for many companies is a bigger challenge than the availability of people. Traditional recruitment processes will not work in the current job market. Time is of the essence, and job seekers are not willing to waste their time on companies who move slow during the recruitment process.  Staying in touch with potential candidates is critical in keeping them informed of the process and allowing them to know a general time frame of when and how decisions are made.
  2. With professionals that I have talked to, job security is high, but job satisfaction is low. Because this is a job seekers market, there are plenty of options for potential candidates, and they know that they can wait to make a choice for an opportunity that best suits their needs, wants, and qualifications.  Because job satisfaction is low, leaders and managers must have a moment of self-reflection to improve their leadership styles in order to help retain highly qualified and valuable candidates to keep them from leaving.
  3. With the way the current job market is, for many companies seeking highly qualified candidates, time is your biggest competition. With every day that goes by, with no communication or interaction with the candidate, the company runs the risk of losing the candidate. From the time the candidate is presented to the company, there should be communication with the candidate within 24 to 48 hours.  Anything longer than that increases the risk of losing the candidate because there are so many choices for them currently.
  4. For many seeking employment, culture is a far bigger issue than pay. In many of our discussions with candidates who are seeking to make a change, almost inevitably, the conversation turns to the status of the culture with their current employer.  Regardless of industry, the complaints range from lack of work/life balance, leadership who doesn’t listen, no support for reliability initiatives, changes for the sake of making change with no coaching or planning, and some who have mentioned unsafe work environments.  People who are passionate about reliability, continuous improvement, and know that there’s a better way want to be heard and they want to make a positive impact on operations and the overall reliability of the facility.  If they feel like they’re not being heard or have no support, they have no choice but to make a change.  On a positive note, they have choices, and people who are making moves, are seeing up to 20% increases in pay on average.  So, not only are they improving their work/life balance, but they are being rewarded for making the move.
  5. Working from a talent management approach is much different than “headhunting.” Headhunting brings to mind a negative connotation and stereotype. Headhunting is reactive.  Talent management is proactive.  Talent managers work with the candidate’s best interests first to help identify the right opportunity for them and fully understanding their unique situation.  With a talent management approach, it’s really career coaching.  Sometimes, someone just needs a good ear to listen.  Just having a trusted person to talk to about the possibilities of making move helps that person to sort all of the information and potential pros and cons of the opportunities that they have to choose from.  Also, with a career approach in mind, you can help coach the potential candidate and prepare them for questions they may be asked on an interview and setting the expectations, so they are well prepared.
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About the Author

Adrian Messer Vice President of Executive Services, Progressive Reliability, LLC

Adrian Messer has worked in the maintenance & reliability field for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has worked with manufacturing & distribution facilities across multiple industries helping to improve their plant’s asset reliability through improved condition monitoring. As Vice President of Executive Services at Progressive Reliability, Adrian has a focus on working with companies to help them find and place high level maintenance & reliability professionals with jobs that are the right fit based off of their needs, wants, and qualifications. In addition to identifying and vetting maintenance & reliability talent, he also advises companies when they have a need for a subject matter expert to work with them on a contract basis for special reliability focused projects.

Adrian is a graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science in Management with a concentration in Human Resources. He is a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) through the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) and is actively involved with SMRP on a local and National level. He resides in Anderson, South Carolina.