management

The (not far) Away Day (part 5)

by Paul Carder on May 25, 2017

by @paulcarder

If you have been following the story so far, several managers are congregated in their corporate training facility, “to discuss what successful Workplace Management means to the Group Companies, who should lead it forward, and how”. It is the evening before the Away Day, and they have met variously in the bar, or passing through to their rooms. We have met Frankie (HR), Sam (FM), Jules (CRE), and Charlie (IT Strategy). As is often the case in large organisations, FM reports into CRE; Sam reports to Jules. But, nobody really knows how the plot is unfolding. Mostly because the HR Director, unusually, has called this Away Day, “so we actually talk to each other, and share information and experiences”. Why HR?

Frankie is meeting the HR Director, Rosh, in a nearby restaurant.

“I bumped into some colleagues from Real Estate in the bar” says Frankie, as they take their table. “There is some…well, intrigue, I guess you could say. They kinda think Workplace Management is their bag…wondering why HR is heading this Away Day”.

Rosh comes back quickly, with a slight air of excitement, “Yes, I’m sure there is! Intrigue, indeed. What do you think?” Rosh is a great mentor – teacher, even. To Frankie, it feels less a ‘manager-subordinate’ relationship than one of a post-grad and professor.

Frankie replies, “Well, I know that collaboration is the goal. Not just out there with our business partners and suppliers, but here, across the support functions. I know that the boss wants to get rid of ‘stove-pipes’, and to get all of the functions facing one direction…and I guess that means all fully aligned with each of the business units”.

Rosh smiles, looking up from the menu, “Yeah, pretty much. The new CEO wants us to give staff every tool they need to perform at their best achievable level. Think sports analogies. Firstly, we want people fit and well, in body and mind….as far as practicable, of course! So, ‘wellness’ will be mentioned a lot. Secondly, we will ensure that everyone in the organisation goes through a review of their skills, and is offered training, or sponsorship on courses where required. We do a lot of that anyway, but it will be pushed harder. And thirdly, the ‘places’ we want people to work from will support them fully”.  

“We have made a good start on the first two”, said Frankie, “but, what is our role, as HR, in ‘places’? That’s Corporate Real Estate, and FM. Are you saying….”

“Yes, I’m saying that will be part of my new remit” smiled Rosh, “We will all be on a steep learning curve.”

Frankie looked a little surprised, “I could ask a lot of questions…why? how?” she smiled. A confused smile.

“Don’t worry. We’re not actually going to be ‘doing’ the CRE stuff”, Rosh replied, “But, this is going to be an organizational transformation. It will not be comfortable, for many of the support functions. Selling it to staff in the right way is going to be critical. Hence, our experience of large change management projects will be what is needed right now.”

Frankie was not convinced, yet at least, “I get that…but how are we going to effectively lead a function like CRE, that we have little knowledge of?” 

“Ah, you under-estimate what you know!” replied Rosh, laying the menu down, “think about it. One of our key goals is employee attraction…and retention. We’re in a competitive market. Unemployment in our sector is virtually zero. Everyone is offering similar…good…salaries and benefits. What can we do to differentiate ourselves, as an employer of choice?”

Frankie grinned, “Well you’ve kinda given that away …its ‘Places’, obviously …but I still can’t quite see how?”

“OK”, Rosh continued, “well, the CEO’s view is that the ‘places’ we ask people to work from are one of the last areas of effective ’employee benefit’…if, as we think is true…people decide to join us…or stay with us…because the experience of working in our places is better than they would get elsewhere. And we should know, as we measure this. But we need to do more, to understand why, and how we can continuously improve. And that is what we manage, and how we brief and guide the Workplace Managers.”

“I get it…I like it” said Frankie, “it is more the strategy and targets that we lead from. We don’t do the technical stuff…CRE does that…but we make sure that what they do is fully aligned with our ‘people’ strategies”.

“Exactly. And you are now part of the new People & Place function”, Rosh smiled, “HR is no more. The CEO hates the term…People!!…we employ people!! ..not Human Resources.”

“What do you think of the menu?” Rosh asked.

Frankie wasn’t sure how to answer. The dinner menu? Or the menu for tomorrow’s Away Day. Dinner was going to go down far better, she thought.   

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by @paulcarder (References at footer)

You are probably quite familiar with the term “evidence-based design” (or EBD) as a corporate real estate, FM or workplace professional. In fact, there is a new EBD Journal. You may not have heard of “evidence-based management”, but it is a logical extension of practice started in healthcare, where ‘evidence’ to support decisions is clearly vital, and must be based on science (not just opinion). I’m sure we have all witnessed management decisions seemingly made on the basis of personal choice, politics, or fad. So, bringing sound evidence in to support management decision-making must be a good thing.

Denise M. Rousseau, Ph.D., is the H.J. Heinz II University Professor of Organizational Behavior Management Collaborative at Carnegie Mellon University, and editor of one of a number of books on the subject, including “The Oxford Handbook of Evidence-based Management”.

Denise Rousseau and Eric Barends (2011) applied the principles to human resource management (HR), and open their paper on ‘becoming an evidence-based HR practitioner’ with a useful definition:

Evidence-based HR (EBHR) is a decision-making process combining critical thinking with use of the best
available scientific evidence and business information.

It seems to me that this practice could (and should) be applied to Facilities Management (FM).

Evidence-based FM

There has been much discussion in recent years about the similarities between HR and FM, and the need for the two disciplines to work more closely together in organisations. This lengthy extract from Rousseau & Barends (2011), I believe, could equally have been written about FM:

Managers have diverse disciplinary backgrounds. HR practitioners have no single credential that authorises their expertise, and the occupation is open to those with no degree and those with several. There are no regulatory requirements regarding the education or knowledge an individual must have to become a manager or an HR professional. The HR industry associations SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) administer examinations to certify member expertise. At present, the SHRM exam is not highly evidence-based, instead supporting industry standard practice. In contrast, CIPD (active in Ireland, Britain and elsewhere in Europe) focuses more on science-based knowledge and aligns with masters’ level university programmes throughout Europe.

If you swapped ‘HR’ for ‘FM’,…’SHRM’ for ‘IFMA’,…and ‘CIPD’ for ‘RICS’ this statement could almost be written about FM. So, what is good for HR could be good for FM.

Example: knowledge-worker productivity

One leading consultancy in the UK, Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) has been digging into this subject, with their research partners, the Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa). Together, using an evidence-based management approach, they have identified what they call “the 6 factors of knowledge worker productivity” (AWA, 2015). This has been a thorny subject for many years, with a lot of opinions being traded, but often without a scientific approach. AWA and CEBMa have put aside opinion, and reviewed 161 papers, after screening for relevance excluding 102, leaving 59 relevant studies.

(nb., you can read the full process in Barends, Plum & Mawson (2015) listed below. This is part of Eric Barends’ published PhD thesis, and therefore detailed and robust).

Having worked with a few consultancies and service providers in the FM sector, this level of robust analysis of scientific evidence is rare, in my opinion. And could mark the start of a movement towards ‘evidence-based FM’, if the approach was copied by others in the sector.

The team set out to answer the following key questions:

1.What is “knowledge work”?

2.Which of the factors that have an impact on the performance of knowledge workers are most widely studied and what is known of their effect?

3.How do these factors enhance the performance of knowledge workers and how can they be measured? In addition, what are the implications of the findings for management practice?

Reviewers from CEBMa conducted a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) of the available scientific literature and AWA used its knowledge and experience to translate the academic findings into practical guidelines.

Results: practical guidelines

Eric Barends (2015) PhD thesis, Chapter 5, Annex 1 lists the practical measures (in the form of a useful questionnaire) derived from the scientific literature: Measuring the 6 factors

(The level of each factor can be scored as follows: Strongly agree = 5; Somewhat agree = 4; Neither agree or disagree = 3; Somewhat disagree = 2; Strongly disagree = 1. When the aggregate team score is low (e.g. below 3.5), this is a strong indication for low team performance)

When reviewing the 6 factors below, an FM/Workplace manager could useful consider how the physical working environment provided, and the facilities and services in the FM provision, may help to raise the score to 4 or 5. 

Factor 1: Social Cohesion

1.Members of our team like to spend time together outside of work hours

2.Members of our team get along with each other

3.Members of our team would rather get together as a team than go out on their own

4.Members of our team defend each other from criticism by outsiders

5.Members of our team help each other on the job

Factor 2: Perceived supervisory support

1.My supervisor is willing to extend him-or herself in order to help me perform my job the best of my ability

2.My supervisor takes pride in my accomplishments at work

3.My supervisor tries to make my job as interesting as possible

4.The organization values my contribution to its well-being

5.The organization strongly considers my goals and values

6.The organization really cares about my well-being

Factor 3: Information sharing and TMS (transactive memory system)

1.Our team members share their work reports and official documents with other team members.

2.Our team members share their experience or know-how with other team members.

3.Information to make key decisions is freely shared among the members of the team

4.Our team members trust that other members’ knowledge is credible.

5.Our team members are confident of relying on the information that other team members bring to the discussion.

Factor 4: Vision and goal clarity

1.This team has clearly defined goals

2.Our team goals are clear to everyone who works here

3.It is easy to explain the goals of this team to outsiders

4.I have specific, clear goals to aim for in my job

5.If I have more than one goal to accomplish, I know which ones are most important and which are least important.

Factor 5: External communication

1.Our team members use information obtained from external teams everyday

2.Our team is contacted by outside teams for knowledge and information

3.Our team scans the external environment for ideas and solutions

Factor 6: Trust

Horizontal trust

1.Our team members withhold information from each other

2.Our team members withhold information from the management

3.Our team members in general trust each other

Vertical trust

1.The management trusts the team to do their work well

2.The team members can trust the information that comes from the management

3.The management withholds important information from the team members

4.The team members are able to express their views and feelings towards management

Application to FM and Workplace/management

It can be readily seen how the evidence from the almost 60 papers reviewed in detail has delivered these ‘6 factors’ as set out above, and how a consultant or in-house change manager could drop these factors into a spreadsheet tool and create a useful survey tool.

It is less easy to see how an FM/Workplace manager could use these ‘6 factors’ directly. But it does provide a sound list of the factors which affect knowledge worker productivity, working in organisations and teams. However directly applicable, the advantage of this evidence-based approach, above the many lists created by knowledgeable consultants and FM practitioners, is that the ‘6 factors’ above can be traced back to scientific evidence from peer-reviewed academic journals.

Academic partnerships to create new knowledge in FM

What is set out above is a great example of a consultancy partnering with academics, to bring robust academic findings into FM and Workplace practice. It would be good for the developing FM profession to see far more of these academic-practitioner partnerships, which would deliver knowledge into FM practice. There is a large amount of peer-reviewed academic knowledge ‘locked away’ in academic journals which, as AWA and CEBMa have shown, can be collated and transferred into practice.

 

References

Advanced Workplace Associates, AWA (2015) “The 6 factors of knowledge worker productivity” available at: http://www.advanced-workplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/6_Factors_Paper.pdf

Barends, E.G.R., Plum, K., & Mawson, A. (2015). “The Added Value of Rapid Evidence Assessments for Managers and Organizations“; in Barends, E (2015) In Search of Evidence Empirical findings and professional perspectives on evidence-based management, PhD Thesis, VU University of Amsterdam, pp. 93-120. available at http://hdl.handle.net/1871/53248.

Rousseau, D. M. and Barends, E. G. R. (2011), Becoming an evidence-based HR practitioner. Human Resource Management Journal, 21: 221–235 available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227792752_Becoming_an_evidence-based_HR_practitioner

Rousseau, D. M. (2012), The Oxford Handbook of Evidence-based Management, Oxford University Press.

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Former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, is widely reported to have said “a week is a long time in politics”. A minute must have seemed a long time for Sabine Lisicki yesterday afternoon in the ladies tennis final at Wimbledon – we felt her pain! For Occupiers Journal, so much has happened in 5 days! It has been a good week for collaboration…

CASE STUDIES – collaboration

Dr. Frank Duffy raised a point at an evening event (more below); we need Harvard-style case studies in our industry. I have heard Frank say this before, and I knew where he was coming from – the Harvard Business Review (HBR) publishes 4-page summaries. These are multi-disciplinary, but written from the viewpoint of one discipline, such as Operations Management or Service Management. The Harvard case-teaching method is more detailed, and used as the basis of business school teaching worldwide. It is a proven method of teaching managers.

Frankly (no pun intended), I just thought the time for talk is over – we must act now. The corporate real estate (property), workplace and facilities management (FM) discipline needs this multi-disciplinary case study approach. And my business partner, Dr. Jim Ware, is an experienced ex-Harvard professor! So, there has never been a better time to push this forward.

SERVICE OPERATIONS: deliberately crossing Operations with Service Management

There is a recognized opportunity for Operations Management to engage in the SERVICE arena and apply this long-established body of knowledge and skills to answer fundamental questions in the areas of service quality, productivity and efficiency, and to apply their expertise in business services and the not-for-profit and voluntary sectors.

Service Operations is a deliberate mash-up! It crosses over between the established fields of Operations Management (generally applied to production efficiency – but equally applicable perhaps to the operating of buildings and engineering systems) and the newer field of Service Management, where perhaps much of facilities management resides.

Project: SOCS (Service Operations CASE STUDIES) is launched!

It is official – it has a LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Project-SOCS-Service-Operations-CASE-5093552/about

SOCS (Service Operations CASE STUDIES) is specifically focused on a vital part of Service Operations in any organisation – the buildings (real estate), workplace provision, and facilities management (FM) services. Our aim: to deliver case studies to demonstrate contribution to organisational performance.

When, where and how did this start?

On Monday evening, 1st July 2013, at the RICS in London, the third Facilities Management (FM) evening event was held, organised by John Anderson. I was on the panel discussion, which was expertly chaired by Christopher Hedley, and with the following great people (in no particular order): Liz Kentish (Deputy Chair of BIFM), Kath Fontana, Managing Director of BAM FM (and representing the RICS FM Professional Group), Dr. John Hinks (Global Head of Innovation, CRE&FM, Group Operations at Zurich), and Peter McLennan (Course Director, MSc in F&EM at UCL).

In the audience were many other representatives of FM industry bodies and leading commentators: Johnny Dunford (Global Commercial Director, RICS), Chris Hoar (Chief Executive, FM Association), Dave Wilson, the UK representative for IFMA Foundation, Geoff Prudence (Chair, CIBSE FM Group), Richard Byatt (Communications, Magenta; former Corporate & Public Affairs Director at BIFM), David Emanuel (Managing Director, i-FM.net), and Martin Read (Managing Editor, FM World).

The invited guests covered many of the leading FM clients (occupiers) and service providers from the UK and international market, and many leading consultants, from sole principle to global firms. It is fair to say that the gathering of 80 or so people was a representative cross-section of the UK FM industry.

SOCS: Terms of Reference

The next stage is to bring this project together. We have made a start, and many of the people listed above have already agreed to play a role in this project. In particular, RICS, BIFM and the FM Association are all ‘agreed in principle’. And all the panel (above) have also agreed to represent these bodies, and others, on a Steering Group, chaired by Dr. John Hinks as an independent client (end user).

The majority of our Regional Partners have also responded already, to say that they are very much behind SOCS and will communicate it within their global regions. This will connect us with ABRAFAC, SAFMA, MEFMA, FMA Australia and many others over time!

Further details

contact: Project Co-Director: Paul Carder: paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com or +44(0)7970 406477

or Project Co-Director: Dr Rob Harris, Ramidus Consulting (Occupiers Journal – Regional Partner, UK & Ireland)

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