What does a maintenance supervisor do?
Maintenance supervisors direct and organize all activities around building systems, equipment operations, safe production standards, and day-to-day functioning of the machines or tools critical to organizations. They oversee, direct, and lead the work of maintenance technicians to ensure that the company’s goals are met and applicable laws and regulations are followed.
The responsibilities of maintenance supervisors vary depending on nature of the specific business. But they typically include planning and directing tasks for a particular shift as well as overseeing that work is completed in a timely and safe manner. Maintenance supervisors must make sure that all Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) and other pertinent agency rules or government regulations are met.
Maintenance supervisors are typically part of middle management and work primarily with the employees and technicians assigned to their shift. They must lead and motivate their team and delegate tasks. They may report to a vice president of operations or another company executive.
Key performance indicators include equipment uptime, schedule compliance, and safety metrics (e.g. number or incidents).
- Plans and organizes tasks for all technicians before the start of a shift
- Ensures all health, safety, and regulations are followed
- Manages and maintains a preventive maintenance system to keep all day-to-day operations running smoothly
- Oversees, motivates, and reviews maintenance staff including management of training and professional development
- Stays organized in facilities with robust PM schedules and continuous work requests
- Leads maintenance team in an effective, positive, and efficient manner
- Understands and follows OSHA guidelines and other regulations
- Exhibits problem solving and team building skills
Who should hire a maintenance supervisor?
Businesses and organizations must review their specific needs, management structure, and employee development process to determine whether they should hire a maintenance supervisor.
In small companies, a maintenance technician might work directly with the owner or president of the organization. Depending on experience, that technician may simply execute tasks from management or handle some of the decision-making independently. If that individual gains enough experience, a promotion to maintenance supervisor may be in order. In that case, the supervisor would not necessarily oversee more people but the entire scope of work instead.
In mid-sized or larger companies, a maintenance supervisor may oversee, develop, and manage one or more technicians to accomplish the business’ goals. In this role, being able to discipline, encourage, hire, and organize people is as important as having the technical skills and experience.
What are the different types of maintenance supervisors?
The different types of maintenance supervisors can vary greatly depending on the specific business needs. Here are some examples...
- Plant Maintenance Supervisor — Supervises team and maintains the operations of plant systems and equipment including conveyor belts, electrical systems, and pulleys.
- Building Maintenance Supervisor — Oversees technicians who are responsible for the daily upkeep and operations of a building. They may also supervise purchasing of materials and communicate with tenants.
- Facilities Maintenance Supervisor — Manages team that handles minor maintenance and engineering tasks such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing projects.
- Public Works Maintenance Supervisor — Leads technicians in maintaining public fleet vehicles as well as construction and maintenance activities around a city.
What certifications are available for maintenance supervisors?
Requiring your new hires to carry certain certifications can help you build a strong team from the start. Additionally, you can require your current maintenance team to earn these certifications as part of their ongoing professional development. In doing so, you will build an experienced and well-trained team that will deliver exceptional maintenance services to your organization.
- Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) — This certification is offered through the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals. It tests the knowledge and skills of professionals who work with preventive, predictive, and corrective maintenance as well as knowledge in business, management, organization, and leadership.
- Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technician (CMRT) — This certification is also from the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals. Technicians can leverage this certification to get promoted to a supervisor position. The certification assesses the individual’s competence to execute preventive and predictive maintenance tasks as well as how to troubleshoot and analyze problems. These skills are important for supervision of technicians as well as the technicians themselves.
- Certified Master Technician — This certificate is offered by Professional Service Association and includes not only evaluation of residential sector repair issues but also managerial topics such as customer service and HVAC equipment and repair. Two years of field experience or a trade school education is required to qualify.
- HVACR Certification — Associations such as the Associated Builders and Contractors offer apprenticeship programs that provide this certification. This helps supervisors learn more about complex tasks that they may need for management in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and radiation arenas.
What are good interview questions for hiring maintenance supervisors?
If you’re planning on hiring a maintenance supervisor for your organization, you should evaluate three main areas of experience: operational and situational expertise, specific role knowledge, and behavioral or coaching style.
- How do you typically assign tasks to subordinates? By asking this question, you can better determine if the candidate has a good grasp on how many tasks a technician can take on at one time and if they are well coordinated with other shift tasks.
- How do you ensure that your instructions, especially those that pertain to OSHA or other regulations, are understood and followed? This question helps you evaluate the candidate’s communication style and whether it’s effective.
- Are you familiar with ISO standards? If your company adheres to ISO or other quality programs, you may want to ask about specific knowledge to assess how much training may be required to get a particular candidate up to speed.
- What is preventive maintenance regulation? Again, this type of question assesses knowledge about specific rules and regulations unique to your industry.
- Describe how you coached a subordinate successfully. People management skills are critical to being a good supervisor. Ideally, your candidates have already managed other individuals and can share how they helped a technician learn and grow in their profession.
- Share a maintenance problem and how you solved it. Asking for an example of problem-solving illustrates the candidate’s thought process in a potentially stressful situation.
When you ask these types of questions, you gain a better understanding of how your maintenance supervisor candidate thinks, evaluates, and approaches typical situations that may arise during a normal work day.