«People Matter: A hermeneutic exploration of reflective practice and facilities management Melanie Bull A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of ...»
Following the discussion on reflective practice and self-awareness, the next section will focus on Facilities Management in the aim of giving the reader an understanding of facilities management and its definitions as this is the context in which the research has been carried out.
Facilities Management (FM) Defined
Facilities management has varying definitions, and as a profession this in itself can be quite confusing and these definitions have changed over time. There seemed to be a property based approach at the start with Dubben and Sayce (1991) discussing facilities management from a perspective of managing a building and linking this with costs and services provision; they also suggest that the facilities manager is likely to have a great deal of technical knowledge.
The NHS Estates (1996) stated that facilities management was the practise of co-ordinating the physical workplace with the people and work of an organisation which integrated and included the principles of business administration, architecture, and the behavioural and engineering science. This still maintained quite a strong property orientated focus, whilst the people have now been considered they are not seeing facilities management as enabling the business to carry out their organisational role, and it purely being related to the workplace.
However, Then (1999) took a different approach to facilities management and discussed FM as being concerned with the delivery of the enabling workplace environment and that it supported the business process and human resources;
therefore raising FM to be an organisation enabler as opposed to just delivering suitable buildings, which Dubben and Sayce (1991) initially suggested.
Nutt and McLennan (2000) took this one step further and suggested that the primary function of FM is resource management at strategic and operational levels. The predominant resource areas being financial, physical, human and also the management of information and knowledge.
The British Institute for Facilities Management, the formal body that represents FM within the United Kingdom, has formally adopted the definition of FM provided by CEN the European Committee for Standardisation and ratified by
BSI British Standards:
“Facilities management is the integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities”.
However whilst they have adopted this definition which does not mention people, they have recognised that "Facilities management is a vital strategic discipline because it ‘translates’ the high-level, strategic change required by senior decision makers into day-to-day reality for people in their work or living space... Successful organisations in future will approach FM as an integral part of their strategic plan. Those organisations that treat FM as a ‘commodity overhead’ will be at a significant strategic disadvantage." http://www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/about/facilities However, there are still some discussions about the changing nature of facilities management as the profession continues to evolve over time (Bell, 1992; Nutt, 1999; Mudrak et al, 2004; Goyal and Pitt, 2007; Waheed and Fernie, 2009) and the impact this will have on future definitions of facilities management.
My own rhetoric in relation to facilities management is that it should be based on people, process and place, and rather than focusing on one element there needs to be a joined up approach with a focus on the output of the facilities management department as opposed to the input which focus on the varying "trades" that may fall under the facilities management banner.
Figure 2: Facilities Management: People, Process and Place.
The purpose of FM is to enable the business, and the diagram below reinforces the view that the Facilities Manager works with the specific inputs but also focuses on the organisational purpose or outputs. Williams (2003) would argue that FM was a non-core service as it is not the main organisational purpose;
however after staff costs, generally an organisation's second highest cost is their estate and the management of that; so there needs to be professional strategic thinking and a joined up approach to deliver an estate that enables the business to deliver; often termed as "fit for purpose". The Facilities Manager has been historically viewed as the caretaker but now is more commonly viewed, as Tranfield and Aklagahi (1995:7) stated "A combined people, process and place manager capable of tuning into overall objectives to plan and deliver an environment conducive to successful work in any organisation".
Figure 3: EuroFM diagram of Facilities Management
The above clarifies the focus of facilities management but there needs to be some consideration as to why reflective practice can benefit the facilities
manager. As Bengtsson (1995) highlights four basic aspects of reflection:
reflection as self-reflection, reflection as thinking, reflection as selfunderstanding and the distancing function of self-reflection. Research carried out by Bull and Ellison (2009), focused on two cohorts (Cohort 12 and 14) of our undergraduate students on the professional course, Undergraduate Certificate in Facilities Management within Sheffield Hallam University, and one of the questions specifically used within the focus groups included "How useful did the
students find reflective practice" - some of the responses included:
“It’s a tool that I have took into work, and having a group of men working for you and then trying to teach them reflective thinking, you can imagine the conversations and the puns that we’ve had. But actually those who have embraced it are actually now finding the benefit from it because, you know, nobody goes to work to make mistakes … so by getting them to think … and actually reflect on what they have done, I’m actually getting less mistakes…” (participant, cohort 12) “I think for me it is the bigger picture, being able to think a little bit more strategically. Whereas opposed to just being reactive in your day to day duties, you’re looking at the bigger picture and it’s starting to open your mind a little bit as to why I do this, as to why we’re looking [in] that direction. That’s how it works for me at the moment” (participant, cohort 14) “What surprised me is how my reflection changed over time, when I read that one I’d written, because I wrote it as soon as I left here to get my first thoughts and feelings out, but I did it again in two weeks and couldn’t believe the difference” (participant, cohort 14) This gives evidence that once they have been engaged with reflective practice for some time they begin to recognise the benefits and can evidence the changes to their personal practice in the workplace. My own view about the lack of literature on reflective practice and facilities management is that there is still a lack of desire from academics in FM to engage in the "people" element fully;
and perhaps some facilities managers keep this self-fulfilling prophecy alive with statements like "Our buildings would be great if there weren't any people in them". I believe there is a strong link between organisational behaviour, human resource management and facilities management. Interestingly, since starting on this journey, on 13 May 2014 the British Institute of Facilities Management announced a newly formed link with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) stating that there was a need to work together across HR and FM to try to establish a truly agile working environment.
Gareth Tancred, chief executive, BIFM, said:
“There have been numerous conversations about the evolution of the workplace but we wanted to make sure that the views of these two vital communities of professionals are brought together. We want them to share their thinking and work together to bridge the gap between people and place as we aim to add to the next instalment of the workplace’s evolution.
“Working with CIPD forms part of our strategy of bringing the right people from outside of the FM profession to analyse, debate and challenge the latest thinking that impacts on the world of business, the economy and wider society.”
Peter Cheese, chief executive, CIPD, said:
“The very nature of work is changing. The unprecedented scale and pace of change in the economy and the world of work means there is a critical need to ensure the ways we work, our workforces and workplace cultures are fit for today, and drive performance and growth for the future. Workforces are more diverse, with greater flexibility demanded on the part of both employers and employees, bringing new challenges and opportunities in workforce planning.
The physical workplace is one of many factors in modern management and work that needs to adapt, with business leaders needing to continually innovate and challenge conventional wisdom about what drives performance and engagement. That’s why we’re pleased to be working with our colleagues in the facilities management industry to explore the issues, and to find solutions to the challenges they bring.” (http://www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/news/7163).
Human resource management (HRM) is concerned with supporting the management of people in the workplace, yet they have traditionally overlooked the workspace. Spaceworks (a subsidiary project of the Centre for Facilities Management Development) in 2006 carried out a study to understand how HR professionals perceived the impact of the physical working environment on employees and the degree to which they were involved with the physical workspace. The findings demonstrated to HRM professionals that the physical working environment had an impact on employees not only in their working life but also in recruitment and retention; yet they had little or no engagement with the decisions on the working environment. Further exploration of the area of the physical environment and a more holistic view of the interaction required between the people and FM, and also the narratives that this can create was drawn upon by Alexander and Price in their exploration of space, management and organization. (2012) To summarise facilities management is not just about process or the hard estate, it also involves people; and to this end there needs to be recognition of FM as a core area of the business as it enables these people to feel valued by their organisation, to potentially feel motivated by the space they work in and also to be able to functionally execute their roles.
In summary, this preunderstanding chapter has drawn on an exploration of me as the researcher, and on literature in relation to the subject matter. To reiterate my inductive approach to this research, I have explored what this literature has identified for my own intellectual preunderstanding and have also used this to draw on my initial aims and objectives of the research. The initial aims of this preunderstanding chapter was to understand the use of reflective practice across several disciplines such as nursing, teaching and management
and my objectives were to:
understand whether there has been anything written around reflective practice and facilities management;
to give me insight and pre understanding for my inductive research;
to explore the links between self-awareness and reflective practice to enable me to understand whether there has been any major research in relation to reflective practice; and to review the research methods used in relation to reflective practice research.
In response to these aims and objectives, I have still not found any literature that relates reflective practice (either in-action or on-action) with facilities management. I have recognised there are several different thoughts in relation to what reflective practice is and this has given me some thinking in relation to whether facilities managers engage with reflective practice in different ways, and I feel this will need to be explored with my interviewees to understand whether there is a significant difference between reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. There seems to be little research into the effectiveness of reflective practice in the workplace and whether there are any differences post being taught to use reflective practice and the impact this has on organisational practice or personal development including behavioural change. Potentially there may be some discussion on not only the individual's approach to reflection but also whether the organisation is open to change and new ideas, thus engaging in the concept of reflective practice and action. There also appears to be a strong link between self-awareness and reflective practice through the literature and this may be explored further within the research, dependent on the interview text.
In relation to my own intellectual pre understanding, I have enhanced my knowledge in relation to reflection-in and -on-action. The literature on reflective practice research seems to provide little empirical evidence in relation to the benefits of reflective practice on the individual. I felt there was an interesting link between facilities managers and nurses in relation to using reflection-in-action, as both roles tend to be more reactive. This review has also helped to understand the use of reflective practice from other traditions.
Chapter 3: The Research Journey
Following an understanding of the background of research and my preunderstanding of the research topic, this chapter includes an exploration of my philosophical position including ontological and epistemological views.