Working on many contracts you get to meet many people but at the same time get to see the common problems people are facing. I wanted to list the problems I believe are some of the most disruptive in the FM industry currently within businesses.
We rely more and more on technology yet we only need a handful of skilled people to keep things ticking over. So why is it we outsource one of the most critical things within a business? I have experienced it first hand and it doesn’t matter which company or which country I am in, you dread calling IT as you know its going to be a long winded conversation where its lucky if you have a 50% chance of getting your problem fixed.
Locally IT people work within the business long-term, as such they understand the software, they understand the equipment and productivity wise they save money. I have yet to see someone in a business plan factor in how much time is wasted by the people within the business trying to get things fixed. Where someone locally would do it in a shorter period of time and with reduced frustration.
Not being listened to
A major problem can be and often is a disconnect between managers and the people they look after. It often gets worse the further the people on the ground are from the people at the top within a business. This means that problems that are occurring in the business can often be ignored, yet at the same time may be noticed by the client.
But its something easily rectified with good communication, when someone feeds you information on a problem actually look into it rather than say you will. The people with the most knowledge on the contracts we face are those people on the ground dealing with everything on a daily basis. If they feel they aren’t being listened to your ignoring one of the most important assets to any business. But also it reduces self worth of the people working within the teams.
Although its something that often isn’t mentioned its something often felt. Yet it isn’t hard to say “thank you” or praise someone for doing a good job. If they have done something above and beyond what they were required to do putting them forward for a mention in the company magazine or some kind of award is always appreciated.
It isn’t just paperwork but processes as companies become bigger they introduce more and more paperwork. But is anyone actually assessing how much time is wasted and how much value is being created? Because I know myself I may get asked to present documentation on lessons learned or improvement plans. Yet I know many of the things I have written over the years doesn’t even get read. Was it worth doing? It would be if the notes were put into action but if they aren’t or nobody even bothers to write back mentioning the documents it was literally a waste of time and resources.
We are aware that some processes need to be there for legality, health and safety and other reasons. But at the same time do we need them all? can some things be customised from a template covering 180,000 people to contract specific to remove a lot of irrelevant questions and documents? Answer is very likely yes and to the benefit of all.
Nobody asks me!
People know their jobs better than most, if they don’t we are the people that should be finding out what they need for the role. Yet does anybody ever ask the people on the ground what it is they need? Because as companies expand they start to generalise things such as equipment and training. But the people on site may not need either or may need something completely different. Although nobody asks them and yet I could give an example of a site where a single engineer visited once a week for servicing. Who eventually took the contract to 180 buildings on the same site with 12 full-time staff. What support did he need?
Answer is he did it on his own with very little help from the company he was working for. In the end he didn’t even make supervisor for the buildings he brought on board on a contract worth several million pounds a year. He got no recognition and not even a pat on the back. Do you think he would do the same again? Because he could have added multiple other sites to the portfolio but moved from being positive to “why bother”. Not because of his inaction but that of poor management and recognition. He wasn’t after a pay rise but would have liked to be the supervisor (something he was very capable of doing) on the sites he brought into the business. To this day he still works there and still not a supervisor, the contract however has not grown since. Communication is key to business growth but also cost cutting and increasing productivity.
A social disconnect between shop floor and management can be extremely toxic and something I do try to stamp out where possible. Its often been historical issues when we take over a contract but its something best resolved quickly. I find that people may not even want recognition for anything as they may have worked in the same job for over a decade without anyone bothering them. But is this how a company should be working? The outer rims of a business may be the route into new business but also those people represent us on a daily basis. Injecting value and taking the time to listen to people is something that not only adds worth to people but also creates an environment people want to work within. A company they are proud to be part of and at the same time when they have a grievance you may need to take it on the chin as you are the representative above them within the company, at the same time its good management taking the rough with the smooth.
Even I feel like banging my head off the wall sometimes as people move to stop themselves getting involved in tasks that they see as not their problem. But these same people would call you up when they need help with something that you specialise in, more importantly we are one business and as such should aim to stomp out silo working. HR doesn’t deal with Payroll, Payroll not dealing with Fleet, Fleet not dealing with out of hours etc. etc. there will always be overlap and as a good company and professionals we should look to find a solution and not look to create more problems.
I have never heard one person complain about not being paid enough. What I have heard is people complaining about not being paid on time. I for one am a strong believer in making sure people are paid what they are owed when it was promised. Because I know myself I don’t get paid one month I wouldn’t be there the next, so why would I expect others to? Making sure peoples pay is sorted at day one is extremely important and not left for payroll or whoever deals with it to sort it for you. As a good manager you need to keep on top of it and make sure there is no issues especially at the beginning or changeover of contract.
Lack of investment in people
Although its not something pushed forward too much by people I have met over the years there are many people who would have progressed in career with help from companies. But its not always about what people are currently doing but looking at what they want to do in the future. I know working with the Ministry of Defence that may of the people I worked alongside had a broad selection of skills and education backgrounds engineering was the obvious one, but also nuclear energy, chemistry and other courses that weren’t directly work related. But does everything have to be work related to invest in people? For example if someone was studying TESOL which is for teaching English to non English speakers. Would it mean that if time or the course was funded by a company they would be a worse engineer? Answer is no in fact they may be wanting to travel the world and be an English teacher for the next 2 years. But you would by putting a small investment in the person manage to retain them while learning and once they returned from overseas would be the first employer they would look to work with.
Told rather than asked
Something even myself can be quite fussy about, if someone asked me to work late I would probably say yes. If someone demanded I stayed late I would very likely quote my T+C’s and tell them I would see them tomorrow.
Its all about how you treat people as the more respect you give to people the more they give back. I always try to treat people as an equal and well aware its not always possibly but as the saying goes “we can but try”. Because part of getting people to work better together is breaking down barriers between management and workers. But also being extremely approachable. Doing it this way makes everyone’s problems everyone’s allowing solutions to be found within the group or organisation.