Successful shutdowns start and end with experienced and effective shutdown leaders. Without strong leadership, particularly during execution, these complex and business-critical events frequently suffer from poor planning, scheduling issues, rework, overruns, and safety incidents.

The calibre of your shutdown leadership also determines how well you can control costs at a project and program level. In the short term, capable leaders achieve quick wins by improving workflows and on-the-ground communication during an event. In the longer term, insightful shutdown leaders help organisations transform how they think about and manage their overall asset maintenance program. In other words, hiring high-quality shutdown leaders represents a substantial profit-making opportunity for your business.

The current skills shortage, widely reported as the worst in decades, is being used as a catalyst for change by innovative organisations in the resources sector. Rather than searching externally, leading businesses are looking within their ranks and investing in their own top technical talent. Asset-intensive firms are now supporting and developing their people to step up as shutdown leaders through a mix of training, mentoring, and importantly, the transfer of knowledge.

Let’s explore how you can introduce this novel approach in your organisation.

Why should you invest in developing your shutdown leaders?

This strategy is a win-win for organisations and their people. Businesses benefit by recruiting internally for hard-to-fill roles, improving their shutdown performance, reducing costs, and bolstering employee retention rates. Team members gain confidence by building their knowledge and learning valuable new skills to enhance their career opportunities now and in the future.

What should you look for in potential shutdown leaders?

Top-performing shutdown leaders have a strong passion for technical work, take safety and risk management seriously, and are team players.

Target team members who are naturally resilient and can handle pressure well. When things go wrong, it’s the shutdown leader everyone turns to for guidance and to get the program back on track.

Check in with team members dedicated to learning and growing in their roles. Education and mentoring will be essential to their ongoing development and success.

What might a contemporary shutdown leadership development program look like?

It’s not uncommon for top candidates to need extra support to transition into supervisory roles, specifically around managing processes, communication, and leadership skills. So, be prepared to invest in training.

General leadership training is always a good place to start. However, it’s not enough for people to thrive and succeed in the pressure-cooker environment of a shutdown event. Your people require leadership skills specific to shutdowns, such as anticipating and mastering challenges that arise when a project swells from 20 to 600 people in a matter of days.

Shutdown-specific training

How many times have you heard about a project that runs to schedule for a few hours but then falls off the rails?

Many new shutdown supervisors don’t appreciate the end-to-end shutdown process. Without this understanding, people can’t optimise each project phase and are likely to make costly mistakes.

Shutdown-specific training, from project initiation through to closeout, empowers new leaders right across the event value chain, keeping the project running to budget and plan.

Select shutdown-specific mentors

There are many aspects of shutdown events you can only learn through experience. Your up-and-coming shutdown leaders will fast-track their success by working with experienced professionals. That’s why mentoring and transferring knowledge is central to any program that delivers lasting and sustainable change.

Target mentors who will roll up their sleeves and work with your shutdown supervisors and trainees in the field. Look for people who will naturally and generously share their knowledge and insights and who can give your people access to proven systems, processes, tips and tricks, as well as what to avoid.

Work with your human resources team

If you have a human resources team in your organisation, reach out to them to help you plan your supervisor training, mentoring and succession strategy.

How long will the shutdown leadership training take?

You can implement a proven and well-crafted program in a matter of weeks with the right supports in place. However, not all organisations have the time, knowledge, or resources to implement this work. If this sounds like your organisation, consider partnering with an experienced and proven shutdown provider who can help you introduce a program that will work for your organisation and people.

Want to know more?

If you would like to learn more about upskilling your shutdown leaders as part of your next event, and how to reduce costs throughout your maintenance program, please reach out to Minset and their team of shutdown specialists.