«People Matter: A hermeneutic exploration of reflective practice and facilities management Melanie Bull A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of ...»
Holian’s (2006) model provides an interesting view on skills and I felt individuals did use elements of it but the model is not a step by step process, and further evidences the complexity of decision making. The social actors have drawn on the impact that reflective practice has had on their individual approach to decision making and this could be an area for future research and could add to the skills model created by Holian.
The changes in decision making skills were identified by several of the social actors and this has reinforced their use of reflective practice to make some behavioural change (further discussed in Theme 4). There was also recognition of a need to take more time to consider the options; and rather than purely being task focused these also drew in their working relationships, with staff and colleagues.
2.2 Decision making and learning
The decision maker needs to be prepared to learn and drawing on Senge et al (1994) and Benson and Dresdow (2003) this includes reflecting, connecting, deciding and action as well as the need to engage in learning. Benson and Dresdow (2003:1001) also draw further on the concept of learning and working with others, stating that it “can instil a sense of self-esteem, advocacy and partnership…leading to accountability and trust and a transformative view of decision making process”. There is also an element of systemic thinking as decision making is complex and has an element of drawing on the more holistic view. Systems perspective requires the decision maker to focus on the process and not blame; recognise the cause and focus on resolutions to address the wider picture, not just the symptoms (Mintzberg, 2003). Traditionally facilities managers are more likely to address the symptoms due to the reactive nature of their roles.
I have stopped and thought about things. Like I say, I have been more open and honest with my Line Manager and some of my other colleagues about areas I have been struggling with. Because I have taken the time to reflect and think what is this issue? What is it doing to me? If I sort it, what are going to be the benefits? Taking a more considered approach to work. (Gandalf – telephone interview) I felt the text from Gandalf above, highlights a change in approach not only in relation to decisions, but also in them being more open and honest which reinforces Benson and Dresdow (2003) position of engagement. Decision making needs to be made in collaboration and not in isolation; but to have truly open and honest discussion then trust is a huge part of this and this shall be explored further later in the chapter in relation to blame culture.
Another element to decision making has been highlighted by several of the authors within this chapter is emotion and emotional intelligence in decision making. Cherniss (2001:6) discussions emotion in decision making and refers to the need to ‘tune into emotions that are the most accurate and helpful when making difficult decisions’. Goleman’s (1998) concept of emotional intelligence (EI) is key for decision making in relation to personal competence (drawing on self-awareness, management of personal emotions and understanding motivation); social competence (drawing on engagement with others such as empathy, relationships, collaboration); and using emotion to maximise learning.
Brown and Isaacs (1996) cited in Benson and Dresdow (2003:1003) describe “the power that mutual respect, listening and asking questions, suspending judgement, strengthening of relationships, deriving shared meaning, and the development of mutual commitment has to transform the stakeholders and to generate ideas.” This is very true again of facilities managers, I had a conversation with Firecracker recently on one of her study blocks where she regaled me with a story of how she had decided how she would deliver a new block for the staff that included bedrooms and shower rooms for staff on shifts, she had thought that they would prefer individual rooms, however when she went into the first Station to deliver the plans to the staff, they were horrified, and said they preferred dormitory style. She recognised that having never had the conversation and working on her own presumptions, in her words, she had “made a boo-boo!” However, taking the learning forward from this experience led her to the next meeting with another Station and they were asked for their preferences and their response was “wow, thanks for asking us etc…” At this Station they again preferred to have dormitory style rooms. Interestingly Firecracker has now reflected on this, and recognised as stated above by Brown and Isaacs (1996) that there needed to be a collaborative process to the decision making from the beginning and having moved on from the first debacle has learnt that this approach will be carried on throughout the change project.
There needs to be a balance of conversations and emergent learning to try to change the ‘quick fix approach’.
My last two years at [my previous organisation], it was difficult to make a decision and I reflected too much on things about the decision making process.
If I said this what is going to happen and if I did this this way, how is it going to reflect but I think that was more about what would happen if I made the wrong decision and what the reaction would be. I think here you might make a wrong decision and you might change your mind and things like that but it is not a reflection on you personally, it is just situations and things like that. But beforehand, it was your ability as a manager and that kind of made me dwell on things too much, made me reflect too much. But here, when I have to make a decision I might want to come back to it, go away and think about it and then come back and make a decision and I have not tended make any snap judgements since I have started reflecting on what I do. Sometimes you have time critical things that you need to resolve but it always best to have a think about the situation and think of a plan of how to deal with it rather than jump straight in at the start. (Baywatch – face to face interview) Baywatch discussion above evidences his change in approach to decisions and above, he has stated the dangers in reflecting “too much” however I felt the interpretation led me to understand that this was part of his internal process to reach a point in decision making that he felt comfortable with and a recognised balance between time and reflection. In relation to problem solving and making decisions, Reynolds (1997:314) discusses reflection as being “concerned with practical questions about what courses of action can best lead to the achievement of goals or solutions of specific problems”; whilst critical reflection draws more on the underlying assumptions in a particular context individual and organisational engagement with a view of change conditions not just facing the immediate problem (Reynolds, 1997). Swan (2008:389) discusses reflection as “a kind of organisational problem solving whilst critical reflection is more a form of consciousness –raising”. Decision making using reflective practice is more than just a cognitive process, as it also allows understanding of self, emotions and behaviours (Swan, 2008). This links to the social actors in that their reference to decision making is not purely around process but also around how they have evolved relationships through their decision making. Fook and Gardner (2007) refer to the importance of critical reflection leading to analysis and then action. Within this process there has to be an understanding of self to prevent knee-jerk reactions to decision making, and understanding of emotions and learning. Giddens (1991) and Beck (1992) refer to reflexivity as our capability to reflect, examine, and revise our behaviours and/or processes in relation to our own learning. Thus helping to make decisions and choices in relation to improving self, also known as ‘individualisation’; both authors view this from a perspective of modernity where traditions and customs are disappearing; although Lash (1994) questions whether we can be completely rationalist or cognitivist assuming that we can distance ourselves from “our worlds”. The piece from The Enforcer below draws on the concept of exploring yourself with awareness, but also understanding the need to try to perhaps be more aware of the emotional impact; in this case he chooses to try to step away from emotional influence.
I think reflection is a great thing to do. I think it is taking time out for yourself just to think things through. Go in isolation, look at a problem, look at a situation and look at it when it is very crystal clear. You have taken all the emotion out of it and think about it. That is what I do at the end of the day and think about it in a very clear view and you have nothing affecting your view. It is this is what it is, this is what I need to do and I think reflection is great for that and I go away with a cool head and look at a problem. There are many times that I have actually thought to myself, I have had a situation and been really angry with myself and really pissed off and downhearted but then I have gone on the way home and I have started to go ‘do you know, I did this and this and that is wrong. However, if I do this and this I will make it right and I am improving’. Yes, so then my mood is changing and I am not down on myself and I even reflect back situations arising and things going off and I think oh that is not good and I am worried about whatever now, but then I will go and think well if it happens, it happens, I can always do this and this. It basically helps me to stay rational.
(The Enforcer – face to face interview) The Enforcer also draws on how the reflection then impacts on his own moods and allows some rational thought, perhaps this reinforces individualisation (Giddens, 1991 and Beck, 1992) and allows the individual some ‘peace’ as well based on their reflexivity on a situation.
Reflective Practice and Decision making summary
This section has provided some interesting insights into how the social actors have engaged with reflective practice to help them with decision making in the workplace. There appeared to be a great deal more thought on how decision making impacted on individuals and this reinforced the ‘humanity’ skill from Holian (2006). I also felt that our FM students whilst ensuring the legalistic aspect of their roles (such as compliance) where adhered to that there is perhaps more of an entrepreneurial mode in decision making - the ‘can do’ attitude.
There also seemed to have been a shift on the style of decision making to being more reflective and not rushing to decisions but trying to look at the ‘bigger picture’ - a more holistic view. Due to reflective practice and the time taken there is a more informed decision making approach.
Another area that I will explore in the discussion section is that of innovation and FM, whilst it has been touched on within this section, I felt this needed to be drawn on from a more holistic overview of the research, as this is an area that is increasingly being used in management of outsourced providers.
The next section will explore reflective practice and blame and consider whether it is acceptable to draw on reflection to learn by our mistakes, whether this be through our decisions or interactions with others.
Theme 3 Reflective Practice and ‘Blame’ From my initial pass of the text and during the creation of the themes I had
noted two questions:
Does there need to a safe environment to engage in reflective practice?
How this concept impacts on the team and their engagement with the organisation This was an area I had not considered but came out across the emails and interviews, it made me want to delve further into the text to understand the emotions that were felt with this and also to address the areas of organisational behaviour and to understand whether this is about the individual or whether the organisation allows or does not allow mistakes to be learned from. This section draws further on the concept of the safe environment for reflective practice, and also blame culture and the willingness to be open and honest about mistakes and the learning that has been drawn from them.
3.1 The Safe Environment