performance management

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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An olympic performance: what does it take to win?

by Paul Carder on August 1, 2012

It is a sports-crazy time right now in Europe, and especially in London with the 2012 Olympics well under way. It is truly inspirational stuff. I’m not a sportsman, but I do appreciate how much goes in to reaching the highest levels of performance. It is not just the sportsperson, but many other parties, including sports equipment manufacturers, clubs and facilities, doctors and physiotherapists, sports scientists, and the all-important coach and mentor. Even for an individual win, it needs a team performance.

This made me think of our Facilities Management (FM) industry. How can we reach the highest levels of performance? How would you coach and mentor the Key Account Directors of FM companies. And on the client-side, the in-house Directors of Property & Facilities, ultimately responsible for ensuring that the supply chain team deliver high performance. If you were building a winning team in the FM industry, what would be on your agenda right now?
This clearly depends on what you deem as success, or ‘high performance’, and will vary according to the role and responsibilities of the ‘player’. In some ways the question is simpler in sport – the goal is to win. The specific objective of coaching may therefore be to focus on mind and body; to prepare mentally, and to achieve physically (jump further; run faster; etc.).

The question of what it takes to ‘win’ may have far more complexity when the subject is not a sportsperson, but a senior manager with a team, in a multi-stakeholder industry like FM.

High Performance: what is ‘winning’ in your role?
Unlike in sport, fortunately there does not need to be a winner and a loser in FM. Competition in bidding may be about winners and losers, but once a relationship is formed between the FM client and service provider, there should be no ‘loser’. However, again, unlike in sport, unfortunately it is also possible for all parties to lose! In the short-term, this may not be immediately apparent – but in the longer term it usually is. Negotiators talk about achieving a ‘win-win’ solution. In FM, it must usually be a ‘win-win-win’; all serious decisions need to achieve an outcome that works for the service provider, the in-house FM client, and their customers (heads of business units, government departments, etc.). These three parties can all lose, and can all be responsible.

For all parties to win, then ‘high performance’ means alignment; to align the needs of the key customer(s), through the in-house client, with the delivery by the service provider.

Communication: “send three and four-pence, we’re going to a dance”
In case you are not reading this in the UK, this old phrase needs a little explanation! Communication is not about ‘telling’ – it is about structuring your thoughts, sending and receiving, interpreting messages and confirming receipt and understanding of the messages. You can win or lose on communication – but, ineffective communication can be disastrous. A famous war story claims that a British Army Commander sent the message “Send reinforcements, we’re going to advance.” When the message finally reached the end of the line, it had become “Send three and four-pence, we’re going to a dance.” The reinforcements never arrived….disaster ensued.

What does this have to do with FM? It can feel like a long chain of command in today’s structured and outsourced industry. In the largest organisations, with the most structured FM service delivery, you can also see the greatest opportunity for breakdown in communications. And the communication is not one-way (like the Army story above); key decisions need to go from a customer group, to the FM client, to the managing service provider, and then often down the supply chain. We need to find ways to simplify, and to trust service providers to work directly with customers (and operatives to talk to end-users….like they surely once did?).

So, the first performance issue is communication: reduce complexity, and improve 2-way communication. Of course, effective communication is ultimately between people – no matter how much structure we put into our outsourced relationships.

People & performance: who is going to help you win?
The FM industry likes to wax lyrical about being a ‘people business’. Of course, in many ways it is. But the industry is being pushed down the ‘commodity’ route by unrealistic cost expectations. To maintain a margin, FM service providers have been forced to recruit lower-cost staff. This is endemic, not quite from top to bottom; I would say from upper-middle to bottom perhaps. The most senior management, on the client-side or service providers, is generally well-remunerated. But, on what basis are staff recruited, from Facility/Building Manager down to the cleaner or security guard? i.e., these people who are going to help you to win – your team.

There are many points to consider here, but I will focus on just the following:
• Don’t under-estimate the usefulness of deep organisational knowledge
• Character cannot be taught; communication skills also take time
• Attitude – who is going to help you to ‘win’ with customers?
• You can delegate (or outsource) work packages, but not ultimate responsibility

Deep organisational knowledge
Firstly, a serious flaw in outsourcing – it does not need to happen, but all too often it does. I have seen the result of an FM client that does not have control over the replacement of ex-middle managers who have what I would call “deep organisational knowledge”. I.e., they understand the culture of the organisation; they know how to get things done; they know where the power bases lie, and who to talk with to get things done. In effect, they know many things that cannot be taught. But, 12-18 months (typically) after being ‘outsourced’ from client-side to service provider, they are moved to another client account, usually with more responsibility (to cover their higher staff cost) and their role is back-filled with a lower-cost manager. But, the new person does not have the same middle-managers’ knowledge of how to get things done. Customers notice, and the FM client and service providers’ Account Director both get pulled in to try to improve performance. Often, the customer weighs in, and the replacement Manager gets duly replaced….and so it goes on. If you are either the FM client, or the Account Director, this is all distracting from your aim to ‘win’ – to work together to deliver high performance.

Character cannot be taught; communication skills also take time
The second point is really about personal characteristics versus those that can be taught. ‘Character’ itself takes years to develop; things like work ethic, trust and reliability. Communication skills and ‘customer service attitude’ similarly take time. Technical skills, on the other hand, can usually be taught more easily over a reasonable period of time.

There is a good reason why Heads of FM in several high-end professional firms have told me that they prefer to keep all of their Managers, and many of their FM operatives, directly employed in-house. Partly, this is due to what I have called above “deep organisational knowledge”. But it is also due to a concern that good people, with the right character and communication skills, will be ‘swapped-out’ or promoted onto other Accounts if they move to an outsourced service provider.

There is a solution to this problem, which will benefit both the FM clients and the service provider market; recruit and develop people with demonstrated ‘character’ and communication skill. In an ideal world, someone from the FM client team and someone from the service provider management would, together, interview every operative who was put forward to work at the clients’ facilities. Realistically, FM client teams are being downsized, so they do not have the bandwidth to do this. So, the service provider’s management must be relied upon to run this interview process. But, it needs a few checks – will this person impress our internal customers and visitors?

Attitude – who is going to help you to ‘win’ with customers?
You might argue that character, discussed above, and ‘attitude’ will go together. I’m sure that you can give examples of people with good character, communication skills and attitude. But a particular customer-service attitude is, once again, a personal characteristic accumulated over time.

I spent some time looking at this area for a study several years ago, and have observed changes in the FM market ever since with a different perspective. I interviewed the Director of Facilities (I’ll call him Tom) at a the London headquarters of an international PLC – a showcase building, with a mixture of staff and high profile visitors from the same company, and many other organisations. Tom and I walked the floors, and had lunch in the restaurant. His attention to ‘service detail’ was second to none, and he told me about his background in hotel management and catering. He stopped once as we walked, and adjusted a piece of artwork. Tom explained how he ‘poached’ staff from top London hotels, to run his client meeting areas, reception and security (and probably other areas). As I left the building, the security guard (not dressed in uniform, but in hotel-style coat tails) walked towards the reception desk as I signed-out, and escorted me through the doors.

That was seven or eight years ago. But, since then I have noticed, and discussed with senior FMs, a trend towards employing hotel and customer-service trained staff to work in FM. Less than two years ago, I was with the Head of FM for a law firm, who asked reception to send me to the client meeting suite. There I was greeted by a uniformed middle-aged woman, immaculately presented, with a great voice and smile. She took me to a meeting room, got me a coffee, and had a conversation about the history of the building while I was waiting. Later, during the meeting, I found out that all the customer-service people on that floor were ex-BA cabin crew. It certainly showed.

You can delegate (or outsource) work packages, but not ultimate responsibility
This is my last point, as in many ways it is the key to success with all the other issues (and many more that I could have covered). That is, the buck stops with the in-house Head of FM; he or she hears from the organisation’s customer groups if the FM service is not achieving the levels which they expect. To achieve the ‘win-win-win’ that I described above, there must be alignment of expectation (and delivery of course) between the customers, the in-house Head of FM as client, and the outsourced service providers. And so on, down the supply chain. Ultimately, in FM as in any other area of management, you can delegate (or outsource) work packages, but you cannot delegate responsibility. The whole extended team is ‘your team’ and it’s their performance which will see you win or lose.

Enjoy your summer of sport, and FM! And a particular ‘well done’ to the organizers and facilities management staff who are making the 2012 Olympics in London a great success. You are also on the winning team!

Paul Carder, Managing Director, Occupiers Journal Limited (paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com)

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Put people and performance ahead of property

by Paul Carder on July 17, 2012

By Paul Carder:

Put people and performance ahead of property” – (Facilities Management, May 2012)

This article argues that today’s “new” office concepts are not nearly as new as facilities managers think. This is Part Two of a two-part feature. Part One (“After 50 years it’s time to go mainstream“) was published in Facilities Management in March 2012. You can read Part One at this link.

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My old friend, and one time line manager, Dr Barry Varcoe, posted an interesting challenge on his blog. It was one of those blogs which, after reading a couple of times, you just have to respond. Or at least, I do.

The article was titled “The (Un)Intelligent Client” – not in any way disrespecting the ‘intelligence’ of his Corporate Real Estate (CRE) & Facilities Management (FM) peers, but posing a question. That was, essentially, how much knowledge of CRE/FM does the ‘client-side’ team actually need? And the related question, where should the line be drawn between client and supplier responsibility? Barry mentioned that suppliers want to get into, “the ‘smart’ high value work such as portfolio strategy and performance management”, and suppliers also wish to, “deploy their information systems so that they control all of the data of the extended operational chain and can provide ‘seamless’ and comprehensive reporting”. This is all a matter of policy and strategy – does it matter?

I would argue that some parts matter far more than others – and I have seen why, after it has gone wrong. These are the elements that do need an intelligent client, as they are essential.

  1. Management information
  2. Performance Management (including ‘benchmarking’ and performance improvement)
  3. Key internal customer relationship management
  4. Contract management (including financial control, and quality audit compliance)

Management information: the client can push this out to suppliers, to some extent, but only in terms of creating management information. I would always insist that the MI system, that holds and displays the information, at least at the ‘top level’ where the client uses it (and customers, where applicable), should be in-house. When a supplier is changed, the MI system then simply starts being populated by a new supplier. The alternative? – the supplier holds all the MI, and gives the client team access. When the supplier changes, will the client get all this historic trend data? Personally, I doubt it.

Performance Management (including ‘benchmarking’ and performance improvement): the client simply cannot outsource this. There is no client-supplier relationship, no matter how close to being a ‘beautiful partnership’, where it is sensible to ask the supplier to manage it’s own performance. If the intelligent client team is reduced to its absolute minimum, someone is always needed in that team to be the ‘performance manager’. The role is there to research leading practice across the market, to analyse MI and trends, and to challenge the supplier to constantly improve. Looking at Barry’s blog, and the question posed, could this role be performed by a “strategic sourcing” function? I know, from personal experience, that the answer is absolutely, no, it cannot. The performance manager needs deep industry/professional sector knowledge with which to challenge and perhaps ‘coach’ the supplier.

Key internal customer relationship management: this is a role which could potentially go either way, but I would advocate keeping at least the ‘top end’ of this function in-house. For example, the relationship between CRE/FM and the ‘Head of XYZ’ business unit – in a large organisation, potentially responsible for thousands of staff – needs someone ‘in-house’ to be the focal point. At least, to meet every 3-6 months, and to set out plans for a rolling year ahead. The test, as in any relationship, is what happens when things go wrong or get difficult. This is where the in-house role is really needed; of course, if everything is going well, the role is less important. But, if it is not, then to whom does the ‘Head of Business Unit’ complain? And chase for action? The other issue is sensitivity and confidentiality, especially with future planning of business units. In my experience, most internal customers feel more comfortable talking to a fellow member of staff. Probably someone that they have known for some time, and built up a trust and rapport. This could potentially be a supplier senior manager, but “strategic sourcing” will usually screw that up every few years by insisting on ‘market testing’ and losing a perfectly good Account Director.

Contract management (including financial control, and quality audit compliance): this is very simple – of course, a supplier cannot manage its own contract! However, the in-house client role can be limited to change controls, financial and quality audits, etc. The remainder is essentially part of the ‘performance management’ and MI roles above.

So, in summary, and to answer Barry’s question, “Which of the two routes therefore leads to the best sustained performance from the enterprise’s perspective?”, I can say that a small “Intelligent Client” (of “Informed Client” as we used to call it) team is always needed. After all, like in any area of management, you can delegate duties but you cannot delegate responsibility. The employer of any supplier needs to be able to hold the MI it needs, to manage and challenge performance, and to take care of key internal customer relationships. That is not a “sourcing” role – it is the role of the Corporate Real Estate & Facilities Management professional. In my view…..

If you disagree, tell me why – I would genuinely very much welcome all views: paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com

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