College Planning & Management

JUN 2012

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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Facilities MANAGING ASSETS Facilities Management Leadership Recognize the human perspective of FM leadership. BY PIETER VAN DER HAVE T HIS TITLE SEEMS TO BE AN oxymoron. Can "management" and "leadership" appear in the same sentence? In this case they can. "Management" refers to the facilities, whereas "leadership" applies to the people doing the managing. Years ago, when I was studying electrical engineering, one of my professors had a cartoon on his door showing a caricature of a youthful engineer, sporting a smile along with a pocket liner and slide rule. The text bubble said, "Two years ago I could not even spell ingunere, and now I are one." The professor used that caption to emphasize to students that it takes more than book and lab learning to become a great engineer (or any other professional). It certainly applies to those who aspire to be leaders of great facilities management organizations. I worked with (and for) individuals who could proselytize about the wisdom of Peter Drucker, Edward Demming, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, and others recognized as oracles of business management philosophies during the latter quarter of the 20th century. Some of these executives were, in fact, pretty good leaders, judging by my own yardstick. Some were not but did not know it. One or two were so bad that ducklings would refuse to im- print on them. A huge difference between the ones that were and the ones that were not was that the were-nots could not recognize their people as… people. They regarded their staff as implements that existed solely for the purpose of completing tasks and proj- ects. These managers were consistently not respected as leaders. I knew an FM director at a large institution who insisted on pre-approving every purchase (regardless of type of amount) and every work request (regardless of type or size). Imagine the bottle- neck that existed in that organization. Clearly, this individual was not trusting. Regardless of the reason for his management style, the climate in the organization was so toxic that no one was able to trust anyone. Understandably, customers on campus had no respect for FM and many of its people. Another institution's FM director was the exact opposite. He sat in his offi ce all day reading trade journals and reviewing CAD drawings. He never interacted with his staff, allowing his assistant to run the organization. This assistant was a good professional engineer, but defi nitely not a leader of people. The director did not know this, however, since he rarely met with the assistant or his customers. He was completely out of touch. These are two extremes that one hopes are rare. Arguably, 12 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / JUNE 2012 most of us would fall somewhere in the middle 80 percent of that bell curve — leaving a lot of room for substantial differences. The hope is, as younger facilities management professionals enter the marketplace, replacing some of us more "traditional" managers as we fade away, institutions will look for leadership potential in applicants as much as they look for technical expertise. What does leadership mean in a facilities management organization? • You "live" among your customers. Unlike other industries, they are stuck with you. Unavoidably, you must lead them as much as your own staff. • If people don't follow you, you are not a leader. Spouting off vague goals will result in a dysfunctional organization, and will likely increase organizational cylinders. Everyone must internalize the long-term mission for the entire FM organization as it supports the mission and vision of the institution. • Don't lead with memos or emails (or text messages). Personal in- teractions are more effective. I once heard a story of an organiza- tion where morale really stunk. The boss distributed a form letter to all employees that essentially stated, "Morale will improve by next Monday or heads will begin to roll!" • Talk about what FM stands for. Be consistent. As a front-line supervisor, I worked for a director who had a problem with this premise. He started a short-lived program where he would invite each supervisor and manager to lunch for his/her birthday. When my fi rst time came, I had high expectations. I barely knew the man and did not know what he stood for. He told me to order anything I wanted — and I did. A nice steak. He ordered a small dinner salad that took him fi ve minutes to inhale. I ate as fast as I could as he sat silently across from me, tapping his fi ngers on the table. Subse- quently, I was unable to drum up any respect for the man. • Be willing to take risks, but don't implement changes just because it seems like the right thing to do. • Love what you're doing. • Grow, and help others to grow. Sometimes, we are the deferred maintenance problem that needs fi xin'! CPM Pete van der Have is a retired facilities management professional and is currently teaching university-level FM classes as well as doing independent consulting. He can be reached at WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM

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