«People Matter: A hermeneutic exploration of reflective practice and facilities management Melanie Bull A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of ...»
There was no formal education background although she had achieved education to A level standard. She worked in the City in insurance, travelled extensively in what appeared to be quite high profile roles, and then a change of direction, to events management (sounded very interesting and again quite high profile as VIP events) and then into the emergency services, as a junior role initially and appears to have worked themselves to a more senior role quite quickly. My own reflections on this, knowing the individual, are they do come across as quite driven and I wondered whether this has potentially influenced their career in anyway.
The discussion in relation to her role having a direct link to the decision maker evidenced the need for facilities management to have a voice at senior management level and to be able to link strategically with the aims and objectives of the organisation.
Interesting recognition of own personal changed behaviour, and also the perceived non-use of reflective practice in FM as it is fast paced environment, just a need to get it done.. But do the mistakes keep happening if no reflective practice is engaged? I think they have reflected on this and recognised the need to prevent the cycle and ensure learning is taken forward.
There seemed to be a strong behavioural change, improved relationships, thinking before speaking almost, she discussed hitting the “pause button” to try and change the conversations and the relationships. She demonstrated increased self-awareness, recognition of new ways of working, and trying to encourage her team to think differently as well.
My mum and dad had a guest house and shop and pubs and things like that, so I have always been in the hotel and catering environment and [there was] a lot of seasonal work. It also had a big catering college. I have always been interested in cooking and things, so I started off doing catering from school on a day release scheme. Then I went on to Technical College and started to study for my City and Guilds in Catering and things. Then, because I had a really good mark on my day release course, I had done a few weeks on the course and they said would you want to do the HND in Catering Management as opposed to the hands on cooking stuff. I said, yes and they said there is a bit of practical in the first year, so if you don’t get on with the academic side you can go back to your City and Guilds, nothing ventured; nothing gained. So I did that and then I carried on and I did my HND and I did my OND and then I went to College and did my HND in Hotel and Catering Management and [was] sponsored [by an organisation] through my final year. Then I left college and worked for [my first organisation] as an Assistant Catering Manager. So that was when I first started getting into hospitality, catering and that. I then did various jobs; managed hotels, worked on cruise ships, all different things and then came back to the UK probably about fifteen years ago and got a job working for [another organisation] as an Assistant Catering Manager and then moved up to Catering Manager, running buildings with about five or six hundred employees and then moved on to a much bigger unit where there were fifteen hundred to two thousand employees on site. It was at that point when [my organisation] started to push into the soft services market and it was then that they were looking for managers who had a big catering job and said could we take on the cleaning, could we take on security. I guess I have always had that entrepreneurial spirit in that I will try anything, if it is going to improve my bottom line and make my P & L look better, I will absolutely do it. So it was a great opportunity, I just put my hand up and said yes, any training that you have got going I can do. I will be more than happy to go in and help the Bid Team put together things, bid defences and what have you so we can win this bid. Slowly but surely the contracts that I had, I developed. I would get portering, then I would get vending and things like that. I moved to [another contract], which was a job which was not doing that well, we just had catering and housekeeping and that was the first time that I had this. I suppose I had about four years of experience of having a go at tinkering on the edge of soft services and things like that but then when I got here, it was a real opportunity, first of all to just bring the catering and housekeeping up to spec so that the client would keep us and then think as well that they know what they are doing. Then the second stage of the opportunity was okay, it was all the soft services and hard FM and everything was all in-house, done by different teams and stuff. So we started pushing and I suggested one piece at a time. It was just looking – you have to seize the opportunity and the opportunity at this point was the City Council withdrawing of the refuse collection. So the client is oh what are we going to do?
And it was ‘no problem, we will take that on for you, leave it with us’. So we took on the refuse collection and showed them a saving. That was the way in.
On that we just built services and we moved to doing a bit of security and then we looked at their hard and lift maintenance, clinical waste disposal, stores – really anything that we could take on and that wasn’t their core business or around drug development. So, I guess it was the realisation as well that back then whenever you spoke to FM Managers, they all had Engineering Degrees and were really hands on and could talk really competently about balancing air conditioning systems and all of that and I couldn’t. But that realisation of oh well actually you could hire the badges in. As long as you can communicate with somebody and gain an understanding of what it is needs to be done then you can go out and find somebody who can do that on our behalf. Once I had grasped that it just seemed to follow, it just sort of snowballed really and we got to the point where I had done everything that I could do at [that site], so that was when [my current site] approached me and said we have been over to your site and your cleaning standards are really good, we are having trouble with our incumbent supplier. It is a local supplier, been there for years. I said ‘I will happily come and take a look around’ and I walked around and said’ Oh, yes I can see that there is room for improvement definitely. It is a large site, very diverse.’ And from that said yes, we would be very interested in taking the cleaning on and so again that took me back to working with Sales, meeting the clients, putting the proposal together. We won that proposal. Then we took on the catering sorry the cleaning at [the current site] and that started. So, I guess I have drifted. Started very much in catering and hospitality and then that got me into that opportunity of moving into soft services and once I had that opportunity I have never looked back kind of thing.
My role has really changed because four years ago I was Facilities and Administration Manager, so I ran the admin side but had an admin person, manager/supervisor who would take care of all that for me. So, I was very much looking after the buildings, running the soft services, we have an outsourcing model so whoever the incumbent is at the time, we have monthly meetings.
Run it very much by P & L and feedback from people on site. The last two years I have been moving more into operations because the business has bought services and anything that supports the clinic, to get to do the studies.
Whereas, traditional Facilities is, in my eyes, the support services –being the catering, cleaning, housekeeping – all that kind of thing. They see, well sample shipping is a support service to conducting Phase One Studies, so we had somebody do it. So Facilities has taken on that. Then we pushed on to, well even resourcing the Clinic, staff rotas and all that – it is actually a support function, you don’t need nurses and things. So my role, we have taken on that as well. It has changed now to a much more operational and a bit more strategic in that now I sit below the Senior Clinic Director and there are only two Managers. There is the Associate Director of Clinical Operations and there is myself. So she looks after all the Clinical Operations stuff, the core stuff to get the compounds into people and looking after the data and I look after everything else. So if we need refurbishment, if we are looking at a new business proposition or we are thinking about going into a new therapeutic area, it is right okay what kind of staff do we need? What kind of skills do Clinical Operations need? But then it is like, where are we going to do it, is it the same sort of environment, do we need the same beds, do we need different flooring, does the room need to be bigger, does it need to be smaller, what are the safety concerns? So, I guess we are really partnering and helping and supporting and that is how my role has changed and I am less now, I don’t manage the outsource providers as tightly. I have pushed more Facilities stuff onto them now, I am in the midst of looking into the structure of the outsourced services we have got and bringing in potentially a General Services Manager to oversee the housekeeping and the catering. In the past I have had a Catering Manager and a Contracts Manager and I would sit over the two, but I don’t have that time now, so bringing the GSM in – they will sort of take my place and oversee it. So that is how my role has changed.
If you had said to me two years ago that that is what I would be doing, that I would be running the purse strings of the Clinic, which is basically what we are doing now, because one side is to support the Clinic and be in there, but the other side is driving the process improvement. Resource is the key to our profitability and our efficiency and we just need to do it better and on the back of that I now manage all the Capital expenditure and assist the Clinic Director with the monthly P & L, so all the business side falls under my remit and it never used to.
Synopsis, observations and reflections on Basil Fawlty
He has a background in catering, formal education in hospitality management, and worked for some large companies and then moved more into FM managing soft services contracts for an outsourced provider. It felt like this had been more of a planned approach than the majority of the social actors as opposed to falling into a career in FM. He is quite driven in his career, and has been recognised in organisations for his work.
An interesting change in perception of reflective practice and the benefits it can bring. He has seen a real change of behaviour not only on the workplace but at home as well. Recognition of reflecting on how they are perceived and also on behaviour and how this can be improved. Interesting reflection on their new role, and how the personal development has allowed them to take on the new role (own reflection and also feedback from the workplace).
He discussed the recognition of danger in not engaging with reflective practice in FM, and gave a personal example on how they have used this to change the working environment.
There was a discussion of “safety” and how the team feel able to say they could have done something better and take the learning forward to the next job/project. Also that relationships have been taken to another level due to open and honest communication.
It was more by chance than by choice that I fell into FM. I got back into working after both my kids were started at school, just gradually changed jobs with no particular direction and I went to work in a hotel where they were doing a refurbishment, or about to start one and I got the opportunity to project manage it. That was by chance because the General Manager didn’t really want to do it and when I finished that I didn’t want to go back to the day job, so I looked for a different job and went to work for the Housing Association in facilities management.
When I started the title was Central Services Team Leader. It is still Central Services Team Leader also known as Facilities Manager. To start with, it was the team do the post and stationery ordering and I have a part time caretaker who does repairs around the building and I started looking at what else we could do centralising services and looking more at the maintenance side of it and how we could develop that. It all fell under the property services umbrella, which manage all the properties for the organisation. They half managed Head Office and I didn’t think they were doing a brilliant job because nobody was paying any real attention to it, so I took that on. Centralised more soft services as well and the role started to develop, I started to do space planning and I did a big office refurbishment last year to have the heating replaced. That was quite a biggy, keeping everybody in the building while the heating was replaced;
moving people around, organising some people to work from home and absolutely everything in the building had to move. I was taken out of role to do that for about three months and then when I got back into my job last September, the day job started to seem a bit boring again. I was still working on my degree, so I kept some level of interest but now I am struggling a little bit because the degree is finished, the project is finished and the day job is pretty much under control, nothing to work towards at the moment.
Before the hotel, I worked in a bank for several years and then I worked in life assurance. Quite boring. Nothing exciting, so after I had my son I didn’t want to go back in to that particularly. With life assurance I did go back as a PA but then the industry was falling apart, it was going nowhere, I got made redundant three times in a row, not just me but the whole organisation was made redundant so I started to get a little bit depressed and that is when I went into hospitality. It wasn’t the hospitality side of it, it was a PA role again and this time I was working part time as my daughter was young, I had just got divorced and needed to be able to pick her up from school and take her and it was one of the few jobs I could do. I was able to make it work. But then I started to have opportunities with the refurbishment and thought I can’t stick at being a PA.