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«People Matter: A hermeneutic exploration of reflective practice and facilities management Melanie Bull A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of ...»

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My current title is Systems and Services Manager. So I have customer services, I have the help desk, reception and I look after all the systems that support the operational areas so the radios, I have got the tracking systems, I have the facilities management system, that is my responsibility. Since March when I was appointed, I have put a new radio system in, I have exchanged the PDA devices in line with putting in a new computer facilities management system in, in the last seven or eight months. That is more me. That is what I do.

It is all about service improvement for me and because I am informed in terms of technology because I have grown up with the telephony, I have grown up with mobile phones, I have grown up with devices, and all that sort of arena and I can look at something, I have come into this and I have seen that the PDAs that the maintenance team were using were ineffective. It was losing its credibility because it never worked. It used to download jobs at 3 o’clock in the morning. We needed to get to an Apple solution because Apple were working with MICAD. All the information from an estates point of view is on MICAD, it doesn’t matter that we are not sat in estates, we have to work with estates because we are maintaining the estate that has been built on our behalf. It is almost like drilling it out, how do I want it to look and who do I need to talk to and why can’t this system talk to this one and why can’t we develop a system whereby we replace all paper to be able to attach it to the MICAD system and become paperless. Why can’t we do that? Rather than looking at what someone else has done, we are asking these questions now in partnership with MICAD to the extent of them saying well yes, we will investigate that. They have partnered us with an NHS Trust, so I have a colleague in that NHS Trust who rang me yesterday and said our catering system has gone kaput, can you help, can we come and look at yours? So we are building relationships and that is much more me. I want to be changing the future.

It is still operational, it sort of borders (to strategic), some days it could be really operational and some days it is really strategic because I am thinking right what do I need? In ten years this is what I am going to be doing and this is where I am heading and this is the blueprint for it but then like today, I am collecting figures in a manual way because IS&T won’t support me doing what I need to do.

We have a leadership team, there are four of us; there is the Operations Manager, who looks after the people, the domestics, the multi skilled teams, the maintenance teams, she deploys them. The Facilities Manager, who has got all the contracts, the health and safety, the training, to make sure we are compliant.

Security, which is sort of standalone but it incorporates all of those things and then there is me supporting all of them with the equipment and services to support the jobs they do. The vehicles they drive, the devices they use, making sure all the systems are up to date. So I think that it is quite different to what I have done before. I have more confidence doing this because of my background and because I have maybe researched into those areas more.

Synopsis, observations and reflections on Peggy Olsen

I felt this was a story of “girl done good”, very loyal to organisations, works hard to evidence this to whichever organisation she is working for that she is there for the common good. Background of a youth opportunity scheme, HR and then into FM and has had several different roles in FM within one organisation but is passionate about the people that work within it and the service delivered.

She discussed the difficulties in how different people make decisions, and also own self-awareness in realising that not everyone is like her or has the same work ethic. Feels that reflective practice is important for recognising the future.

What could be done better? This felt more of the purpose constantly striving to think about how to improve.

Strong recognition of how education has improved her personally and professionally. I felt she promoted a need to learn from mistakes and that there was limited “blame” to be apportioned as long as people did learn from them (again this was mooted from the position of being quite driven to make changes for the better for the organisation).

–  –  –

My work background has been very much always in HR and that started off back in the 70s really. That started off very much in the Civil Service and then I had a time out of the workplace doing other things whilst the older children were growing up and then came back into HR again, but I had a ten year break of doing other things. I very much came back in and have been back in HR for the last twenty five years I suppose. That is where I was. Then, what happened was that there was an opportunity to take up an FM Operational post and mainly that meant managing the operations and very much managing the people and that appealed to me, so I applied for that and was successful and moved into that. So that is how I moved into the FM sort of area.

I have moved out of strictly doing FM and the reason for doing that is because we have a big change programme going on that is looking at basically outsourcing the majority of the service. The idea was, the vision was that it would probably go out to TFM, that is not looking quite so likely now, but I think it is going to go out to large bundled contracts. With that, the people involved will be Tupe’d or whatever, that is the way it goes. I have been very much involved on the change side of that and so I have stepped out of the sort of FM role at the moment, back into a project based role, managing the change programme for the FM department.





The organisation is scientific research. It is a public sector public body. It is one of the seven Research Councils and it is research.

I don’t have any staff because it is very much, I am project based so it is a bit of matrix management I suppose. We have got a Project Management Office (PMO) and the PMO Office supports me on the admin side but I don’t have any direct reports at the moment.

Synopsis, observations and reflections on Personnel Penelope She has a strong background in HR within the civil service, she had a career break for children and returned to HR; subsequently applying for a position in FM operations as it involved managing people and this was a passion; although now she is currently working in more of a project management role in relation to organisational change. Interestingly, as discussed in Chapter 1, the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) and the British Institute of Facilities Management are forging links to create a more joined up approach between HR and FM.

She evidenced strong reflections on change and how different people are coping with this. Very people focused throughout the interview evidencing own self-awareness throughout and how reflective practice has enabled her to engage with people in different ways during a time of change. Encouraging feedback to enable more reflection from those involved however due to the change there may not be a feeling of a safe environment and therefore people may be more reluctant to be open and honest.

Recognition of danger of not using reflective practice, as nothing will change or move forward. Although she has recognised that due to the nature of FM, this was not always done due to the reactive nature. Felt reflective practice was important in FM education, but needed to be delivered as a practical tool that people can practice in the workplace whilst on the course.

–  –  –

I grew up in hotels because my parents owned hotels. My dad was in the armed forces so that is why I followed the armed forces, grew up in hotels then joined the armed forces and was a chef and spent the majority of my time going to different places in the world, specialising in field catering. So I could be hopped off around the world with whatever crew were going anywhere. I left that and joined [the] University, funny I joined them as a breakfast chef …. I had been working for them for about 2 years whenever I had holiday or leave as my wife [lived near to the University], so they said I could have a job when I was coming out of the forces, told them I was leaving, 24 hours later I had a permanent job. Four weeks later I was the Head Chef for a halls of residence, 2 years later head chef for [one] site, 2 years later I was Senior Head chef for all the student halls of residences for [the] University. See you didn't know that, I kept that one quiet! and then because of scaremongering by the University that they were shutting down all the halls of residence, which they subsequently have, I decided to branch out and a job at [my current organisation] came up so I applied for that as the catering manager, got it then became hotel services manager, not really doing the hotel services manager as the senior management at the time still held all the purse strings.

The hotel services manager role meant I was in charge of housekeeping predominantly, and patient transport. Then senior management brought in a chief exec and this was where my career really lifted but also took a down turn, they needed us to move on and climb the ladder and the chief exec asked me to be the facilities manager, and that was my mistake, I took it on but I should have said no, and took it on thinking I was capable of it, and really I was 50% capable and 50% lacking in the academic side of it and that came very, very quickly. So I took it on and that is the reason I ended up at university through reflecting on this, I had a knee op and reflected on what I was doing.. another role was advertised and I contacted the chief exec and asked if I could take a sideways step, step down and apply for that role, and get an education and he was brilliant, thought it was the right move and applied for the University certificate and then moved on and did the degree side and now trying to finish BA (Hons) So that was a quick history, so the reflective thinking really probably kicked in when I decided the right thing to step down, but before I had done the course, I had spoken to [the Board member] and he said you have the capability but not the academic support for what we need. I will give you an example I would be asked for a report and it would take me 3 weeks and it would be sent back with this is wrong, this is wrong, but now I can write a report in 1/2 hour and it doesn't come back the stuff I now give out is not challenged in any way. People accept what is written down but when I really started to embrace reflective thinking that is when my career started to go the correct way, because I am now asked and involved in more at work I am on the committee for the new 5.5 million rebuild project and am project managing shop refurbs. So all the applications I have learnt through the university with my capability practically I am embracing and enhancing with the academic side but the thing I don't want to do is stop trying to learn because if I do I will end up back where I was So I am still head of maintenance and support services, looking at changing that to Estates Manager because that is what I predominantly do, I look after all the buildings top to bottom. We have recently had a Health and Safety Executive inspection and received a glowing report, and that is the direction I want to go to project management or facilities management again.

Synopsis, observations and reflections on Sgt Chef

He worked in the armed forces as a chef, had worked in an organisation during leave breaks and offered a position on leaving the armed forces. There was recognition and reflection on having to change his style from the two very different backgrounds. Career moved forward from a chef to a more generalist FM based role, however he felt that he had taken on a job one step too far in his career and reflected on this, and evidenced how this led to a sideways step, but recognition that he was ready for a more managerial/strategic position now.

This evidenced his own self-awareness and also his ability to engage in reflective practice from a personal and professional perspective. It also highlighted his engagement and his trust of the organisation to be able to have the frank and open conversation in relation to his ability within his role.

Throughout the interview he drew quite heavily on his personal life and shared some very personal information, with open and honest communication. He has worked with his own team to engage them in reflective practice and has recognised the differences in their behaviour and more specifically in his own behaviour and also growth in confidence that has come from a heightened selfawareness and from his own learning.

–  –  –

Well, I left school, didn’t do very well at my A levels at the time, I don’t think it was right for me to do my A levels at the time but I made the mistake of doing them. Miserably failed them and went into work to do a GNVQ scheme in business administration, did that, worked for a joinery company as an environmental ISO kind of person eventually, got made redundant and went on to work for a factories company as a Quality Assurance Inspector for a year and then I didn’t like the shift patterns, I didn’t like driving to work at five o’ clock in the morning so I basically decided I wanted to go somewhere else and with the help and support of my mum, who worked in the NHS, she sought out a job which suited my style and capability. I applied for it and got the job as Assistant Waste Manager for [the] NHS Trust. I did that job for around about three years, until one day I had a chat with the Director who said to me where do you want to go and what do you want to be? I said I am not honestly sure what direction I want to go in but I know I enjoy facilities, I enjoy the whole challenge of it, the daily change of it – you never know what you are going to come in and face. I love that and I love sorting problems as they come out.

So he basically said to me well, I have got a role I am going to offer you, I am going to do some rejigging, some changes in the department and that is when I came to my current position as Operations and Projects Manager for the Hotel Services Team. They also very kindly supported me in doing my degree or certificate, foundation degree and then a degree, which I was very happy for.



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