A gathering of facilities management leaders hosted by the Association of Building Cleaning Direct Service Providers (ABCD) emphasised the importance of communication, leadership and overcoming unthinking reliance on old habits. The day, staged in Chester at the end of May, was designed to help public service managers engineer change in their business models and develop their managerial skills.
Facilitators Rob Walker and Lloyd Ansermoz of Fedelis Group, which offers management consultancy services across the UK, said that many of the pressures of the current austerity in the public sector have meant that managers have been forced to diversify, adapt and offer better value to both their staff and clients.
"Some of the changes we are seeing in the public sector are the biggest in a generation, and the best managers are adapting as they confront this challenge," said Rob Walker in his opening address. "We are seeing the private and public sector come under the same pressures, smaller budgets, more demanding clients, and managerial change is being mirrored to reflect this."
Walker began the day by highlighting the core skills attendees claimed they needed to perform their roles. He asked delegates to list the skills and attitudes they thought their daily tasks required, and invited members to link these skills to their behaviours and habits, and strip away those which were deemed to be irrelevant. Focusing on communication, Walker said that different tones and modes were required in the range of situations managers encounter on a given day, and suggested members work to develop a rapport and understand the needs and desires of colleagues or clients.
Later, he invited two members from the audience to break a piece of wood with their bare hands, using this as a metaphor for exceeding expectations and overcoming self-doubt in the workplace.
Walker closed the day by citing the Hawthorne effect, whereby subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behaviour simply in response to the fact that they are aware they are being studied and observed. In the instance of FM, this can be achieved by walking around and communicating regularly with colleagues and staff. This was once again tied into the importance of communication, and adjusting tone and message according to subject.
ABCD chairman, Ken Baxter, closed the day by stating how important he felt these seminars were for members: “It has been a very useful day and I hope all attendees have found some helpful tools to use against the difficulties we are all facing in the public sector. I’m extremely pleased that our members continue to recognise the importance of these events, and by taking a step back from the hectic day-to-day business, really working on ourselves and how we do our jobs.”