“If you could go back in time and change one piece of history, what would it be?”
I was doing some interviewing last week. My role was to probe the breadth and depth of the candidate’s operational abilities while my colleague was looking at the touchy, feely stuff and the above question was one of her standards. Read more…
One of the things that fascinates me about learning is how often things just stay with you, even when you don’t always realise the significance, or sometimes that you’ve even learned them, and I try to think about this when I am training, coaching or mentoring people. Read more…
This week I will be wearing my logistics hat again as I am running a warehousing and materials management course and will re-visiting the delights of standard deviations, calculating point loads and similar mathematics along with the more practical side of what mechanical aids to use for various applications. Read more…
We talk a lot about getting FM into the boardroom and similar ambitions to further our profession and in these aims we are no different to many other specialist disciplines; when wearing my purchasing hat my colleagues there are no different, but when I have my logistics hat on my colleagues there don’t often have that issue, for they are usually firmly embedded at the top table, so how do they do that and what can FM learn? Read more…
Last week I wrote one of my public holiday frivolous pieces based around the 1950s/60s TV cowboy series Gunsmoke, but the principle of those shows rang a few bells this week especially with me also watching re-runs of Star Wars episodes four and five, similar tales of good versus bad, but taken into the future and to another galaxy. Read more…
News from Norway last week shocked the world, and we feel for the families of those who lost loved ones. The media have made much of possible motive and the whys and wherefores, but I am more concerned about the impact on those who had responsibilities for the security of people at the two venues that were targeted, because those of us in facilities management walk in their shoes.
I’ve written here about the time, just after the Columbine spree killings in the USA, that one of my sites had a suspected gunman outside. That came to nothing, but we learned some lessons that we built into the way would handle any future incident. I’ve also covered a suspicious package incident, one of three that I have experienced, but I have also had someone gain access to one of my sites and start brandishing a knife, demanding to see their estranged partner, and four or five other incidents involving domestic issues that got to the edge of violence come to mind.
When you are managing a site where there are large numbers of people, probably also with public access, you walk a tightrope. Now I don’t want to suggest that this goes on all of the time, but you don’t know when an incident will occur. When one does, then speed and level of response needs to be on the money if you are to have any chance of dealing with it. How you cope with something like the second incident in Norway is mind boggling and I can empathise with my opposite numbers up there. What they must be going through is something that I never want to have to face. My thoughts are also with the forces of law and order. Expectations on them are enormous and the media cane them whatever they do these days.
In our world, the FM team need to be well trained and to understand what they should and should not do when something flares up, but also in spotting the warning signs. We do have a variety of states of alert, and raise the level of vigilance if we are warned of a specific threat, but so often incidents arise without warning, especially the domestic ones. All of the incidents that I have mentioned came on ordinary days, albeit a couple of the suspicious package ones were are the height of the IRA campaigns. One minute you’re quietly getting on with something and the next you’ve switched to crisis mode: that innocent looking visitor grabs your colleague, pulls out a 12 inch kitchen knife and holds it to your colleague’s throat.
Thankfully the majority of us don’t ever face these situations, and those that do probably only get one in a lifetime, so how do you prepare? The start for the reactive side is in the basic emergency process; you get used to handling these things in a calm and structured way so that when something happens it is dealt with. Regular practice helps, both in desktop exercises and live ones, to settle the team into being able to react effectively when an alarm is raised. The proactive side needs a culture of vigilance, and that applies to the whole team; you have to have an escalation process and you need an intelligence network.
If you do these things then you have a chance of reducing the risk. I doubt that we will ever prevent a determined solo attack like that seen in Norway last week, but we might be able to limit the impact. When did you last review your process?
One of the problems with leadership thinking is that a lot of what is currently being put around comes from people who have studied the subject, but who have never really done it themselves. Would you take golf lessons from someone who had never played? Or someone who had bought a set of clubs and a video and taught themselves the rudiments? Hopefully not.
This difference gets further amplified when someone who has been shown how to do something gets to try and do it. Take a musical instrument; lots of people can get a tune out of one, but how many can really play one? Does someone who does a decent karaoke turn make a good singer? I can drive a car, but whilst we share the same initials, I’m no Jensen Button.
What makes the difference is talent. Good leaders can take the tools and use them to best effect in the same way that any virtuoso does with an instrument.
Most of these self styled leadership experts put across a one size fits all solution which, if you think about it, is fundamentally flawed. Leadership is about leading people. People is plural; it refers to a group of individuals. And that is the key word; individuals.
People are different, and this leads to a real dichotomy for leaders. One the one hand current social thinking is that you should treat everyone equally, but how do you do that when everyone has different needs?
Leadership involves a range of techniques to motivate people according to their own needs. I don’t respond well to people getting angry with me; One of the most effective things ever said to me when I screwed up badly was a very quiet “Bowen, you’ve let us all down. You’ve let me down, but, most of all, you’ve let yourself down”. Other people would treat that with contempt though, and the guy who delivered it knew the difference; there were others on the team who, in similar circumstances, would have been blasted against the wall by a withering stream of invective, but he knew me well enough to know that that would not work on me.
That leader didn’t deliberately set out to teach me how to do it, but the example was there for any of us to follow and adapt for our own use. And I did.
A good leader will know what makes each member of the team tick and will apply the right techniques, but then there is the question of what to do when you face the team all at once. Gung ho speeches don’t do anything for me, but I’ve seen first hand how they can get a team going, and there is a synergy factor that comes into play in those situations, but you have to get it right and catch the mood. No-one can teach you that. It’s about working an audience and you learn by doing (and getting it wrong a few times).
A potentially good leader will have latent talent that can be developed. They then need the opportunity to lead and, for those who get the chance, they have the opportunity to hone their skills. Not all will make it, but it’s better to have tried and failed.
Good leaders don’t necessarily make good teachers, (but someone that teaches classes successfully will be a good leader). If you want to learn about leadership you first have to have the opportunity to do it. If you want help in learning, you need someone who can pass on to you the benefit of their experience.