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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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Then it got more to the administration side of facilities, so I did a lot of POs, couriers, stationery ordering – all that sort of malarkey. From there I moved up to the Facilities Coordinator after about 2009, around about that time and did that for a while. The beginning of 2010 it would have been – a coordinator role assistant needed on the site at the time and after about twelve months of doing that the FM was off on long term sick and I took over that role on an interim basis and this was pre starting my Sheffield Hallam work. Then I was offered the role of Environmental Manager after, when the FM came back. That was 2012 or when the Cohort started. I was doing that for a while; looking after the ISO1401 standard, the Environmental Improvement Plan, the waste management for the company as a whole, whereas I was only working for a single site before. It became across all sites and then I started that in May 2012 and then at the beginning of 2013 I was offered to take over the Health and Safety management as well, for the company and so I started on the 18001 Standard, Health and Safety Improvement Plan: keeping us legal, keeping us compliant. Then we had a transformation period in the business with reorganisation and I was offered the role, carried on looking after the health and safety and environment but also being the FM for the [other] site. The FM at [that site] is very much responsible for the catering, the cleaning, contract management, rent, rates, utilities, health and safety and all the soft services, not hard services. That is kind of my career path today at [my current organisation].

I have two direct reports at the moment.

Synopsis, observations and reflections on Gandalf

FM was not a career path for him; he fell into it, background in retail, bar work, call centres, nothing that appeared to require any ongoing career development, from the discussion it felt like jobs that he just moved though without any career aspirations. He then became engaged with FM, and saw a progression opportunity and moved from assistant, to co-ordinator to Manager in 3 years.

He has since taken over responsibility for FM whilst the FM was off sick, and on their return became the environmental manager and subsequently the FM for the site, which also encompasses the environmental aspects with management responsibility for two staff.

The interview became a discussion about managing people and the difficulties encountered. He felt he could have escalated the current issue and has decided to try to manage himself as he is very people focused, and he believes that reflecting on the issue has meant he has not escalated to HR, but recognised the different stresses and strains that people have in their personal lives. He has reflected on his own personal change of style but also increased self-awareness and also feels that due to being more reflective this has aided him to engage in more open and honest communication with his direct line manager.

He has recognised his changed behaviour in the workplace and his style flex.

He felt that reflective practice has also led to more focus on his career and again this has been commented on in the workplace.

I have reflected on the interview and Gandalf was open and honest and happy to share difficult situations to explain and evidence his use of reflective practice.

The individual offers an empathetic view in relation to his staff and the interviews evidenced his own engagement in reflective practice. I felt his life history evidenced some personal struggles on his journey and the learning he has taken from those experiences which has led him to the position he is now in within his organisation.

–  –  –

I have always thought that I would do other things in life than what I am doing now. I set off wanting to work in the police and had a part time job whilst I was at college as a life guard and as part of that position; I had to do basic repairs and maintenance on the building – very basic from unblocking toilets to repairing lockers and things like that. Over a period of time those skills developed and I joined the technical team where I worked at the [leisure centre] and they put me on an electrician’s course, basic electricians course and I had a bit of a knack for it and an understanding and changed my career path to sort of go onto tools and that and it was more about, when I look back, about the money aspect of it. I was earning a lot more money than what I was as a lifeguard and that was really attractive.

And from then my career has just blossomed. I was made supervisor there and did that for about five or six years, supervising a small team and looking after ten buildings. Managing programmes and things like that. From there one of the trustees of the organisation I worked for was also on the board of trustees for [another organisation] and he told me there was a manager’s role going there for their maintenance section and I went over there and walked into a complete mess really. I spent a year trying to sort it out, maybe a bit more and it was just horrible and I couldn’t, the work ethic was very poor and the culture was awful. It was very I don’t know; ingrained into dropping each other in it really, just to cover themselves. I couldn’t work with that and just by luck my old boss had moved on as well from [there] and he had got a job at [my previous organisation] and said he needed a supervisor there and I went in a heartbeat and I went for the interview with his boss and he was great and sold me the company. But I knew I was going anyway because of what my boss had told me and went there as a supervisor. That was different because that was the first sort of structured company I had worked for in a private organisation where there is a difference between doing what you should do and sort of playing at it really. I think I came from that sort of work ethic, just doing what needed to be done to get through with it. This was structured and there were planned maintenance regimes in place and KPIs and SLAs to follow. That was different.

It was a small little team that looked after fifteen schools and everybody had their job and everybody did their job well but everybody got on well together as well and that was a great place to work. That is when I started at schools for?

Because what my manager or his boss wanted to do was develop the team and I had no academic skills at all and probably still don’t really. The main drive of that was the contracts manager at the time and he was really good. Something quite significant happened in the first three months while I was there and it was that my boss decided to emigrate and I had just worn in my uniform and he decided to emigrate and I was offered his post, which at first I said I wasn’t ready for and then on reflection I decided that I could do it with some support and got the job on a six month probationary period. We did really well and got really good feedback from the customer and got through the probationary period and we started to develop the business and the team and I started to manage more people. At one point, there was 42 people reporting to me which was too much and we needed to put in a tier of management beneath me to manage that and we brought in two supervisors.

I think the turning point for my decision to leave was that the contract manager moved on; he had got a job with a different company. He was replaced and the person that took his job was different in many ways, better in some but a whole lot worse in others. I can’t think of a better word for worse. She was of a different sort of work ethic and very self-driven and expected everyone to be the same. I think the reason that we didn’t get on is because she wasn’t about how well the team performed but how well the contract performed, no matter how fragmented the team became because of it. I now know that it was for selfglorification really and her own career advancement. Which everybody suspected, but it was surprising that the team fell apart because of individual work pressures and the mood and the culture of a little office and if something happened which needed input from other people and they didn’t perform then arguments started and the atmosphere in the office turned frosty. It just became apparent and a customer noticed it as well, which was even worse. So you would go to meetings and the customer was asking how you were and it was a bit embarrassing at times. They were obviously aware that there was going to be problems within the workplace. So I looked for an opportunity to move and went for a couple of interviews and didn’t get them and everybody says this, but glad I didn't get them, because they were internal moves and then just out of the blue I got a call from an agency who said they had seen my CV and did I want to come and talk to these people. I came here in this very room that I am in and spoke to my boss and the technical manager and you could just tell. You walked in and people smiled and were friendly to you and when you walked in here the message you were given about the company ethics was it had just gone through a restructure and I would be managing a new team.

They knew they had certain problems and didn’t know how to fix them. They just needed someone to come in and help with that. They asked me lots of job related questions and interview questions, but I knew as soon as I closed the door to leave that I had got the job. Within hours I got the call to offer me the post and it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. If I had been put in that position two years previously I would have turned it down flatly because I loved where I was and just in the space of two years, I hated my job and it was all because of the influence of one individual who was just using us to better their career. Not that I am bitter or anything, you can’t tell that can you, (laughs) but it did affect me and I think you spotted that as well. I think I did the best thing really.

I am Technical Services Manager of the Hard Services Team. What a title! We look after fifteen properties for the Council.

Synopsis, observations and reflections on Baywatch He worked as a lifeguard part time, took on some responsibility for FM (although not called that) – thought he would join the police, but stayed at the leisure centre, joining the technical team and did an electrician’s course, money was the key motivator. His career has moved forward in FM, and to contract management. He recognised his own skills and ability in working with people and being proactive.

His career has been one of change but also evidenced his need to feel engaged with not only the organisation but also with his line manager. I felt that when the trust had disappeared in the management relationship he struggled to continue within the organisation and needed to seek alternative employment. He was quite self-deprecating at times and from my engagement with facilities managers over the last 7 years, this does not appear to be uncommon.

He discussed a changed perception of reflective practice, having thought it was “touchy feely” initially but recognised how to engage with reflection as a tool. He recognised using reflective practice particularly in the change module on the course, and discussed how this had helped to focus on a personal change in relation to work/career.

He recognised the change in his approach to making decisions, but still the need to manage reflection, as some decisions have to be made quickly. He has drawn on reflective practice with his team by calling it a “stocktaking” day. It would be Interesting to understand whether the terminology makes the difference in people understanding engagement.

Firecracker (Telephone interview) Role: Property and Facilities Manager, inhouse FM, for emergency services Gender: Female Age: 43 I left school and was supposed to go to University, took a year out and started working in the City. I never went to university; I enjoyed it far too much being paid to work. I worked in the City as a Reinsurance Broker then moved to New York and got head hunted from there to go to South States, Louisiana and then onto Bermuda and then down to the South of France and I then stopped work for a while. The company went public and I decided I wanted a change of scene and so I got involved with doing event management freelance [with] the sponsors of all the European Grand Prix. I was doing all their VIP event management, so lots of travelling and then decided I was going to hang my passport up, answered an ad in the paper and ended up here in [county] Fire and Rescue Service. I think FM is like event management and you just have to be able to turn your hand to anything and communication really; talk to people and second guess what people actually want. It is not actually that dissimilar.

I was working within the service support and the Deputy Chief runs operational delivery and that was split into two sections. One is service delivery and one is service support. Service support would be classed as the infrastructure to support the core business. So that is estates, fleet, ICT, equipment, stores. So that is where that side falls and then probably about five years ago, I moved completely into the estates function and was working as estates governance, which is all the policies and plans and the legal side – insurance and all of that jazz and then I took over as head earlier this year.

We are a small department and the advantage of a reasonably flat hierarchy is that I answer directly to the deputy chief. So I get a decision; if I need an answer on something I can go straight to number 2 in the management board and say ‘this is where I am, I need an answer or I need to do this or this’, and that has been amazingly helpful because I am not going through another set of hands before I get to the ultimate decision makers. It takes, I am getting firsthand the decisions that are being made strategically. That is really helpful. I am not getting someone else’s interpretation of the strategic direction which I then act on. It is a very direct line which has been really helpful. We cover, the references are everything – building defects, maintenance, capital projects – the whole way through – seat bookings, room bookings – everything you think of and throwing insurance in as well. I handle appointing the broker and the whole tender process for the entire insurance coverage for the service as well. I have three people reporting to me and I report directly into the Deputy Chief (DCO)

Synopsis, observations and reflections on Firecracker

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