«People Matter: A hermeneutic exploration of reflective practice and facilities management Melanie Bull A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of ...»
Whilst all recognised a change in approach the examples are very different.
There is an interesting use of language throughout their discussions and I can feel their personality coming through in their words, again from a subjective interpretation. Girl Friday feels like she has embraced a level of emotional intelligence and recognition of own emotions so as not to engage in an unnecessary conflict situation. Brushstrokes is very much a team player and likes to create positive relationships around him and therefore the need to phone and speak to people as opposed to sending a “formal email” seemed very much to be part of the individual. I would suggest that Brushstrokes is someone that remains ‘themselves’ whether in work or social setting as he feels no need to use different identities. Interestingly SW’s statement of how he has used reflection feels more like a critical analysis of the process and the individuals involved and less of a reflection on own performance with language that drew on elements of status and power. WM’s comments stated similarly a learning from a process, however the language used was very different and more open to admittance of a personal mistake and the need to learn to improve. Whilst both were similar in context, the language used was poles apart.
The concept of service delivery being improved by reflective practice has been evidenced by the discussions from the social actors but equally this reinforces the concept of Verdonschot (2006) in relation to innovation in the workplace.
1.4 Perceived risks of not engaging in reflective practice This was an interesting question that came out in some of the interviews as they were unstructured discussions; but the responses led to interesting reflections on learning and being able to move forward.
I think we are constantly in flux, we are constantly changing, and constantly moving forward doing different things. Flexibility is a major issue with FM, whether it be monetary or whether it be service deliveries… I think you constantly need to reflect on what you are doing, either whether you are in the private sector and you are wanting to expand and move out, or whether you are in the public sector and you are delivering the service and you want to make it better and constantly keep up there so you don’t be outsourced. (Brushstrokes – face to face interview) If you don’t reflect, you don’t learn; you don’t improve, in my view. And if you don’t improve and you don’t learn you leave yourself open to situations you don’t want… in the FM sector in general, not as an individual but as a department, if we don’t learn, we don’t develop and we don’t improve; we leave ourselves open to outsourcing or rival private organisations coming in and taking it from us. (The enforcer – face to face interview) Interestingly those that worked in the public sector perceived one of the biggest risks of not reflecting as potentially being outsourced as they need to show continuous improvements.
You could look at it and go well no there isn’t any risk of not using it … probably four years ago, I would have said there is no risk to not using it, I am okay as I am- look at my department, it runs… the risks are you are passing over process improvement opportunities … if you are in an environment where nobody else, no other departments, do reflective practice, it could be your key differentiator… the thing that lifts your department … where everybody has carried on blindly doing the same thing, you go ‘we did it last time, we did it this time, but this time we sat and we looked at it and we found out this.. and next time as a facilities department we are not going to do the refurbishment like that because of the impact it had on the admin people…If you don’t reflect, you don’t identify any opportunities. (Basil Fawlty - telephone interview) … once you have that knowledge installed in you and how to utilise it, bearing in mind I don’t think it is a standalone thing reflective practice. You have to incorporate everything like I said, communication of change and all that, because it forms part of a group of models that you can utilise going forward and you have got to have the knowledge of each one and see how they fit in to assist you. I think if you aren’t aware of this you can go on and on and make similar mistakes ad infinitum without knowing you have made a mistake. (Little Boy Blue – telephone interview) Again, recognition of service improvement but also of a wider knowledge from Little Boy Blue, who recognised that it has not just been the reflective practice but the wider learning over the course that has brought all the skills together to enable them to become able to learn from the mistakes but also to rectify them.
Verdonschot (2006) discussed reflection with the future as a good starting point as this can lead to innovation and breaks away from the more traditional or dominant ways of thinking. “It can have three starting points - past, present and future” (Verdonschot, 2006:675). This was reiterated by The Matron (face to face interview) in her discussion as she stated I think once you start using it, it makes you stop and think about your actions in the future. You sort of almost reflect in advance, well it’s not reflecting in advance but you think about the implications in advance and what the possible outcomes could be, so it is a more measured response than we might have had in the past.’ Also by Peggy Olsen who stated ‘It [FM] just changes so rapidly. I said in the last six months I have changed systems and it didn’t go off with bells and whistles, it sort of went phut. That is how we work. I did at least expect there to be something that went wrong and yes we had one or two hiccups but it didn’t go wrong, it just went in. Because of the willingness of the staff and the support we had to put it in and even now I am thinking right what can we do now to make it better. How can we move it on? Because we don’t want to stand still, otherwise we will be out of date. How will we drive it forward? What sort of things are we going to be looking at in two years’ time? Where do we want to be? And that is looking back at what we have done to look at the future.’ This concurs with Op de Weegh (2004) who discusses the need to let go of existing frames of reference and create new ones. The social actors drew heavily on risk of being outsourced and of not learning from the workplace and being able to move things forward.
1.5 Perceived importance of engagement in reflective practice for facilities managers Throughout the interviews discussions took place about the importance of reflective practice in relation to facilities management. As discussed in Chapter 1, the British Institute of Facilities Management encourage reflective practice through their courses and as part of the continuing personal development of their members and I wanted to understand whether our students felt reflective practice was a key skill for the industry.
I think BIFM need to train their FMs to think before they shoot really. I think when you get a load of FMs together they are very lively people and they are very vocal by virtue of what they do and I think the reflective practice would help them more in their role to be more accepting. It is a softer face of FM, one that gets on, it is getting back to the communications side as well and how you communicate in the right way with the right people at the right time. If you can see a situation and think about it okay now is not the time to deal with this one.
You take it on the chin and say ‘okay, right I have taken on your points, leave that with me’. Walk away, think about it and then go back to them. (Firecracker – Telephone interview) … it identifies opportunity for process improvement I think, … that could be financial, that could be engagement … that could be how you are perceived within the business as a department. Another benefit is that if you do it right … do you take your relationship with your contractors or your staff to another level?
I don’t know if that is definitely true, but you get a better understanding.
Perhaps you create a safer environment so that you get a more honest exchange of communication and you know even though you are further removed from the process than you were, you are getting truer reflection of what is going on around you or what your people are doing. … it has certainly helped the FM department here integrate with the business as a whole, at a senior level to be considered an asset, a part of the business, something – a department that doesn’t just fix stuff, we actually engage with the business and we are an enabler, as it were, as opposed to just being this reactive or planned.
We actually help fit in with the strategy of the company and where it is going.
(Basil Fawlty – telephone interview).
Basil Fawlty focuses on the raising of the profile of the department, which I found an interesting concept, as this relates to the positioning of FM within the organisation and having a valid voice. Both Firecracker and Basil Fawlty have focused on improved relationships and a more honest and open environment for communication drawing also on empathy. The other area that I feel can be drawn on here is community empowerment, as a group of individuals working together there is mutual respect. Ghaye (2000:75) discusses empowerment, from a healthcare environment, as being expressed through relationships, but I feel his work can relate across other disciplines. He draws on the work by
Tones (1998) and defines the characteristics of a sense of community as:
“membership - a feeling of belonging shared emotional connection – a commitment to be together influence – a sense of mattering integration and fulfilment needs – through being a member of the community.” Basil Fawlty draws this sense of engaging his team with reflective practice. He has even given them reflective practice papers to read and explained his learning to his team as well.
I have given them books and papers to read and things like that… I haven’t said right this is reflective practice, but I have said to them right, at Uni I have learnt reflection and it is about revisiting, looking back and would you change anything and sort of sold it that way and that is what they do… that is people’s objectives now to have these meetings and have these follow up meetings, document them – just have a little one page summary of the pros and cons and then we file them away and if we have a similar study come in or the next group or anything like that – you pull them out and have a quick look at them and it refreshes your memory and you think, oh yes, I remember that, we said it was four and actually it was three; put three in this time. (Basil Fawlty – telephone interview) His approach has enabled the team to understand the reasons behind reflective practice, but has also enabled them to continually learn from these experiences as Moon (1999) also draws upon.
Peggy Olsen (face to face interview) discussed not understanding why people wouldn’t reflect stating ‘If you just carry on, you don’t develop anything do you?
You don’t make anything better. I am not saying that all reflection is positive because some of it isn’t. Sometimes you reflect on things and work yourself into such a frenzy that what had started off as a little problem becomes a big one because you have worried about it. Generally, if you can put something right that has gone wrong then I think the dangers of not doing it, I just wouldn’t consider not doing it, I can’t imagine anybody not wanting to reflect and not wanting to make things better. We can’t stay still, can we? Because otherwise then we would get processes, systems, people whatever and they are all out of date because you are not thinking about how to make it better.’ She does note that not all reflection is positive, but this again leads to the unbalanced view, without taking an objective position it can turn into a negative spiral. However, interestingly, she draws on the issue of continuous improvement and believes that without reflection this cannot be achieved.
Emancipation and empowerment are also considered in Moon (1999) in a discussion of the purposes and potential outcomes for reflection. In summary
Consider the process of our own learning Critically review something Build theory from observations Engage in personal or self-development Empower or emancipate ourselves (Moon, 1999:23) In relation to the delivery of the reflective practice module on the FM course, the first 4 elements of these are addressed not only through the module but across the course which does ask students to use their reflection across several models to aid in their critique of organisational practice. The element of empowerment or emancipation of self can be a demonstration of reflection to understanding self and moving away from ‘group think’. However, I hasten to add that this research is not focusing on emancipation, as I felt this could have been a thesis in its own right, although my reflection on empowerment may add a new element to the section on reflective practice and personal development.
I felt both of the above ideas from Moon (1999) and Ghaye (2000) encapsulated the discussions from both of the social actors, in the sense of engagement and reviewing performance from a critical perspective. This has drawn me to another question, which again as I have discussed earlier in this chapter, may or may not be fully addressed, does using reflective practice help people to feel more engaged with their organisation, as opposed to just personal development?
Reflective Practice in the Workplace Summary