6 Skills You Want to See In Your Maintenance Manager

Harry Lees
April 23, 2021

6 Skills You Want to See In Your Maintenance Manager

People switch jobs for different reasons. Some of them are looking for better work opportunities, better salaries, shorter commute or even career change.

But, how shocking it is to know that 50% of employees who leave their jobs is because of bad managers?

Indeed, a big part of employees’ routine is related to their relationship with their bosses, which means that managers have a huge impact on people’s work health and work atmosphere in general.

On top of everything mentioned, the position of a maintenance manager also requires a fair bit of technical knowledge which makes it a challenging position. With continuous advancements in technology and with the human factor getting more relevance in organizations, there are specific characteristics company leaders expect to find in their maintenance managers.

In today’s post, we will cover 6 skills that maintenance managers are expected to have to become a successful team player within the organization.

1.  Technical knowledge

Maintenance management requires a deep understanding of how machines and systems work, and how to keep them running with limited resources at the lowest possible cost.

Technical knowledge plays an important role in problem-solving and process improvement. The number of solutions for any particular problem increases the more a maintenance manager knows about mechanics, hydraulics, electrical systems, cost management, etc.

But this knowledge is not limited to the manager’s prior experience. The ability to learn new skills and specialize in other areas is just as important. With an ever-changing workplace, the ability to understand and implement modern technologies is critical.

Technical knowledge goes far beyond qualifications regarding physical systems. Effective maintenance managers will have strong knowledge of safety regulations and best practices. Upkeep and repair must be done according to local and federal regulations, while maintaining OSHA standards for employees.

Finally, running an efficient maintenance department often includes managing maintenance operations through modern maintenance software. Managers must understand and be able to use this kind of technology.

2. Listening

Having good listening skills is key to running an efficient maintenance department.  


Some insights can only be picked up by the people that are actually turning the wrench. So if the manager wants to stay on top of all maintenance operations, having good communication with the maintenance team is crucial.

To be able to actually listen to his team, the maintenance manager should not be someone that only sits in his office or is constantly off-site. A manager that is willing to leave his office and get his hands dirty will have an easier time developing a good relationship with his team, which will significantly improve communication flow and lead to quicker problem-solving.

Lastly, listening should not only be about hearing the problem out. A good maintenance manager should be able to recognize underlying conditions that led to that problem so the team can act accordingly.

To be able to do that effectively, a maintenance manager should be able to tell when technicians are not completely forthcoming with him or when they just don’t have the full picture of what happened.

3. Prioritization and organization skills

In the maintenance setting, establishing priority work is what gives power and focus to the team. There’s a clear objective, making all the efforts well directed. Without priorities, everyone works on their own agenda which most of the time is not aligned with the company’s goals.

Moreover, organization is not limited to your own staff, but it also involves different departments and third-party contractors. Finding a way to contact everyone on time and to keep all parties satisfied requires a lot of focus, as well as good time management skills.

Making use of preventative maintenance programs will save both the manager and workers time and expense. Most building systems require someone to monitor them and maintenance logs to keep track of changes and inspections. A good maintenance supervisor prioritizes the most needed task with those that will save future problems from existing. 

Having some experience with bigger implementation projects is also useful for a maintenance manager. This may mean they’ll have experience in bigger changes, like moving from reactive maintenance to preventive maintenance strategy.

4. People development

A leader is nobody without his team. Commitment to development is what keeps the team engaged, skilled and brings respect to the manager.

To increase the team’s potential, the development process starts with the appropriate hiring and training. The maintenance manager must hire technicians that can get along with the team and are willing to learn new skills. From here, leadership skills go a long way in determining the success of the team. Teams expect far more than technical knowledge. These individuals should be supervisors, mentors, and provide a source of guidance for the maintenance technicians working under them.

Also, part of the team development process is to identify which technicians are better suited for each job type. Some team members have a deeper knowledge and maintenance experience with particular machines but might not be comfortable with electric work.

In fact, being able to recognize the team’s strengths is a great opportunity for the maintenance manager as he can use this information to train other technicians on their weak points and balance the workload from the team.

Excellent communication and problem-solving are key in this roll. This is not just about what needs to be fixed. A maintenance manager needs an aptitude for people management and conflict resolution.

personal development chart
Photo by 2elearning.com

For example, knowing strengths and weaknesses of his technicians, allows him to schedule shifts in such a way that he pairs technicians with different skill sets and lets them learn from one another.

Besides learning new skills, personal development of your technicians is tightly connected to motivation. That’s why acknowledging when the work is done properly and on time is as important as giving out warnings when it’s not.

Besides training, ensuring a safe work environment also plays a big role in team development because it will not only reduce accidents but also increase the team’s morale and productivity. Therefore, the maintenance manager should stay tuned to the regulations and provide constant training for his team.

5. Ability to see the big picture

There is a common problem that organizations face nowadays called the “silo effect”. It is a limiting mindset where each department works focusing on its own, without considering the business as one cohesive group.

To be able to see the big picture, the maintenance manager must understand how his actions affect the whole company and how other departments and third-party members interact with the maintenance staff. Daily activities and work in company facilities should work toward clear, decisive goals.

Having a clear picture of how his decisions impact non-maintenance staff ensures a good relationship with all departments and helps the manager to run the maintenance department in a way that is aligned with your overall business goals.

6. Neutrality

One of the worst things a maintenance manager can do is to take a side when dealing with a problem.

There will always be situations where something didn’t go according to plan and team members might start pointing fingers and try to find someone to blame. Evaluating everyone’s opinions in an unbiased manner will help the manager to get to the bottom of that particular problem and come up with a feasible solution (and try to prevent the same problems occurring in the future).

Neutrality can also play an important role when a manager assigns tasks for his maintenance crew. Only by being able to stay neutral, the manager can design a fair and balanced maintenance schedule that won’t cause unnecessary friction between the team members.

Much of the reality of leadership skills falls outside of the maintenance manager job description. They will make use of the interpersonal skills from their own lives, but must also remember how different this role is. While supporting who is right may be the right move, the job requires effective teamwork. As such, relationships must be managed as much as the plumbing, electrical, and carpentry jobs you are assigned.


A maintenance manager must present high level of technical knowledge and organizational skills, which often makes this position exceptionally demanding.

On top of that, this is a job where there is constant pressure to fulfill expectations from colleagues, superiors and the team. However, with the skills listed here, most of these challenges can be addressed effectively.

What other skills would you expect from a maintenance manager? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Below is a youtube video with some advice for new maintenance managers.

About the Author

Harry Lees
I am a proud University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, with a Comprehensive Honors degree in Political Science and Journalism. Go Badgers! A dual-citizen with the U.S and U.K, in my free time I support Liverpool Football Club, obsessively follow politics and do extremely nerdy things with my friends.

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