The (not far) Away Day (part 2)

by Paul Carder on May 8, 2017

by @paulcarder (with contributions from @therealsulim)

If you have read the story so far, in Part 1, three managers met at the bar of a corporate training centre. Frankie (from HR), Sam (from FM – Facilities Management), and Jules (from CRE – Corporate Real Estate). There has been some usual banter, but underlying that, is a plot unfolding? The HR Director has called this Away Day, which has surprised Sam and Jules. Apparently, “so we actually talk to each other, and share information and experiences”. They are not convinced.

Back at the bar….

Frankie has left, for dinner with the HR Director. Sam asks, “So what do you think, Jules? Is this an HR Away Day, with invitees from other Group Functions? Or, is something else going on?”

Jules went off to boarding school at the age of seven, so politics and intrigue come naturally. With a degree from a leading University, and ten years with a commercial real estate firm, Jules fell into CRE when a client offered the chance to move across to their in-house team.

“Definitely something more than just an HR Away Day” Jules replies, “Its not just CRE and FM being invited – I saw Charlie, Head of IT Strategy, in the car park. Procurement are here too. It looks like someone is trying to bring us all together. I guess we’ll find out in the morning!”

Sam nodded, leaving a silence to see if Jules would say more. It was unlikely. Jules was the deal-maker, a collector of information from all sources, but disseminated very little. It was the way of the broker. Information is power. But the rules of the game were clearly changing. Collaboration was the new game, and Jules was having some difficulty with it.

“You always have your ear to the ground, Jules” said Sam, smiling. “How’s progress with the search for the new HQ?” Sam wasn’t convinced that the firm needed to move, and was even less convinced by the buildings being considered. But more worrying for Sam was the limited input FM had so far been able to gain.

Jules took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, “Well, the size of floor-plate we are looking for is scarce. There are developments in the pipeline, but not much choice if we want to move in the next year or so”.

Sam gave Jules a raised eyebrow, “I hope its more ‘or so’ than ‘next year’ Jules. We have three years on the existing lease. There is a whole programme of work to do before moving – staff engagement, comms, workplace design, mock-ups, furniture…not to mention the move planning itself.”

Sam could feel the tension rising, but stayed the ever-cool, unflappable Hotel Manager. Almost two decades in large hotel groups around the world had trained Sam to work with anyone. Many people had felt the difference when Sam took over FM a couple of years ago. Heads of Business Units had fed back up the line. Marketing loved Sam, as visiting customers and VIPs had commented on the great ‘atmosphere’ and slick management of corporate events.

But Jules held the CRE purse strings, and had the ear of the Finance Director. Sam was poised to jump across to another function, and get out from under CRE, if only the chance arose. Jules knows that. If Sam was able to get FM under HR, then a big part of Jules’ power base would vanish.

Jules brushed off Sam’s concerns, “We have time. There will be at least a year after we sign up, and we haven’t found anywhere suitable yet. But our current landlord has indicated that they may redevelop if we exit, and may accept an early lease break. That could mean a saving – our current lease was signed at the top of the market”.

Sam knew there was little point arguing. If there was an identified saving, it would be in Jules’ performance review! Sam could expect a myopic focus on Jules’ bonus until that was in the bag! And that would be true of the Finance Director too. But what if a case could be made, convincingly, to move FM under HR & Organizational Development?

Sam was convinced that the physical workplace, design and services, was all just part of the employee package. It’s what a staff member expects, working for one of the Group companies. Maybe the new CEO had seen this too? Maybe that’s why the HR Director had been tasked with bringing all the support functions together?

Jules left the bar to catch up on emails, whilst Sam ordered another beer. Tomorrow may be the start of something.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Prischl May 9, 2017 at 6:45 am

This story is boring – not because it would be badly written, but it is so nineties … the characters of “customer”, “user”, “core business manager” do not even make it onto the stage, just cheap corporate backwater intrigue of characters who have lost touch with the real world of MARKETS. Waiting for – not Godot, but for the next cheap shot?
I cannot identify with any of these players.
This is old school, not the Facility Management which is emerging as an ISO Management System Standard, the FM of young graduates with an FM degree and corresponding knowledge (not “some degree from a “good” university and some years at a brokerage”). A stage with new characters!

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Paul Carder May 9, 2017 at 7:51 am

Good, that was the point Peter. I think the CRE Manager (Jules) is the role you are most critical of, and you are right to be. Jules is “old school”, probably doesn’t really understand FM (nor care that much). But if you have read our Raising The Bar studies (2012, 2014 & 2017) there is a lot of this about. Maybe you are also right that the “FM of young graduates with an FM degree and corresponding knowledge” will change the landscape.
As the story unfolds, you may identify more with the new world where corporate managers work together, rather than in silos. Thanks, Paul

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