The start of a new year, with its typically lower levels of general activity, is an ideal time for workgroup leaders to take stock and assess themselves and their team against the current list of objectives. Particularly if you were focused on specific performance areas last year, a complete business health check encourages leaders to step back and take a broader, more systematic look at where they are, what they need, and the issues and opportunities they’re facing. It’s also a powerful activity if you’re starting a new leadership role to give you an efficient ‘state of play’.

What to include

We recommend exploring three major asset types in the following sequence:

  • People – as the leader, am I ready for the year ahead and how are my people performing?
  • Process – are my strategies, systems etc delivering required outcomes and are there gaps preventing high performance?
  • Physical – are critical pieces of equipment or infrastructure meeting business needs and are corrective actions required?

Minset’s audits and assessments follow this structure because we find it enables holistic analysis – including providing critical early warning data and/or insight to fast-track performance improvements.

How to get started

A good health check doesn’t need to be onerous. We recommend the following steps:

  • Develop a tailored checklist based on your unique business requirements and objectives
  • Determine the existing measures (data) that are available and, where there is robust business performance data on hand, add target levels to your checklist criteria
  • Define how you will validate lag and lead measures including, where possible, a ‘go see’ element that involves engaging directly with workgroups – eg a feedback session with workgroups might complement absenteeism data, or field-based equipment inspections might supplement equipment performance data
  • Review results and develop corrective/response plans accordingly

Simple ‘yes/no’ responses might be sufficient for some checklist items. However, the health check will be more effective if you define criteria for each rating. For example, when you look at the sample checklist below, there’s a significant difference between saying ‘yes, my workload is appropriate and sustainable’, compared to defining ‘appropriate and sustainable’ as ‘I generally complete all key tasks in normal working hours’.

A sample checklist

The sample checklist below is a starting point – using a maintenance-focused scenario. It’s solely intended as a thinking framework and set of prompts. The quality of your business health check is founded in the quality of the checklist itself. It requires diligent work to set one up that is tailored to your team/operations/mandate. However, once that thinking is done, using it becomes straightforward and efficient. If this is your first health check, you can consider trialling something similar to the sample we’ve provided here, and using that to identify assessment gaps.

People – leader

  • My workload is appropriate and sustainable
  • My communications and workgroup engagement are effective
  • My understanding of overall business plan elements and related work area performance requirements are appropriate

People – workgroup

  • Roles are properly defined and understood
  • Training/development plans are being delivered
  • Morale and workgroup relationships are of an acceptable standard
  • Leadership ‘time in field’ is sufficient and effective
  • Workgroup productivity levels are at benchmarks
  • Succession plans are current and in use
  • Specialist and contractor resources are available and effectively managed

Process

  • Area business plans for the coming year include appropriate targets and high-value improvement initiatives
  • Enterprise or work management systems are used effectively and deliver required business outcomes
  • Asset-specific service strategies lead to the right work at the right time to the required standards
  • Management-of-change processes are used as required to an appropriate standard
  • Strategies and processes are reviewed rigorously on a regular basis
  • Asset performance data is comprehensive and accurate
  • Latest technologies are deployed where appropriate
  • Safety, work quality and cost performance requirements are known/owned at all levels in the workgroup

Physical

  • Equipment condition and cleanliness standards are appropriate
  • Corrosion and structural degradation are managed appropriately
  • Critical spares are available and properly stored
  • Lubrication and contamination control processes are appropriate to asset types
  • Appropriate maintenance/services facilities and specialist equipment are available

It’s important the checklist you follow is relevant and owned by you and your team. Once this checklist is tailored (or your own developed), and it’s fleshed out into a measurable review process, it can typically be completed over one week by a supervisor or manager-level role. For a relatively small time investment, the results generally provide much-needed insight to set a new year off on a strong footing.