Every industry has them. ” The Maintainers” are those individuals in companies that have never done front-line work in a company, but have come in to professionally manage a service organization.  The role of “Maintainers” is to manage risk, budgets, balance sheet, income statement, etc. through command and control methods.

“Maintainers” love to set targets, manage by productivity numbers and the forementioned financial measures.  Many have an MBA where they learned their “skill.”  Formal procedures, scripts, rules and regulations keep order in the businesses under their leadership.

When revenue is falling and the financial statements are looking bad, they know just what to do.  They cut people and expenses as the fix to a poor bottom-line.  This helps in achieving financial targets for which they are handsomely rewarded.

Decisions are made top-down away from the work  using reports, best practices, technology, benchmarking.  With little understanding of the work, they promote outsourcing and shared services as a panacea to most problems.

They treat customers with a facade of importance, but behind closed doors they form “get tough” policies.  This usually means that the customer must be managed to a contract.  The underlying belief is that a customer that is completely happy must one that is hurting the financial statements.

“Maintainers” know how to play the blame game.  They have a hierarchy of folks reporting to them so when things go wrong they can blame someone.  They come to budget meetings with a litany of excuses of why they didn’t hit their numbers.

Do you know a “Maintainer” in your organization?

An systems thinking intervention with a “Maintainer” is always interesting.  They say the right things and really slick ones can even pretend to think long-term.  The truth is that they are short-term command and control thinkers.

The ability for a “Maintainer” to create value for an organization is thwarted by their inability to understand where value is created.  Because value is created with an understanding of customer demand and the work . . . “Maintainers” would rather not get their hands dirty.

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Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.