Steps to Manage Change in FM Organization
Today’s competitiveness and economic environment call for rapid changes in the FM organizations. Change may be a practical necessity for reasons such as budget cuts through layoffs, changes in policy, hiring process and much else. Unfortunately, changes that are imposed all of a sudden is less effective on an organization compared to those changes that take place on a slow place, that are implemented on a step-by-step basis over the course of the years. To top this off, facility executives would deny that change is the way to go. For some, like those in the FM organizations, resistance to change is the normal way to react to an upcoming revision in the company. There are a variety of reasons for this. First, they believe that sudden changes bring about confusion, and makes it difficult to perform routine work. Second, their take on it is that changes to the inner structure of a company is time-consuming and unnecessary. What is more, these changes bring only uncertainty to one’s status quo, fostering insecurity all along the way. FM staffs feel the need to take risk by coming out of their comfort zone. And employees who have been with the organization for a long period of time are mostly insulated from new ideas and changes as they are familiar with the attempts of changes from previous administration and therefore assume that the current management do not have what it takes to bring a dynamic change.
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Nevertheless, true change requires creativity, dedication and sacrifice on the part of FM executives. A strong leadership and clear vision are some of the ways to bring change to an organization, according to John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor and change management guru. He recommends the following steps to introduce changes that has worked well for many major companies around the world.

1. Establishing a sense of urgency

Organizations that are about to change its infrastructure should explain the need for it clearly and nothing can be a more valid reason that an economic downturn. It doesn’t have to be a crisis; a loss of market share, product liability issues or severe recession within the organization is enough to convince FM executives and staff to establish the sense of urgency to change. Some of things by which the change movement can be stimulated include:

  • Dramatic dissatisfaction among customers over service delivery or products. 
  • Baby-boomer attrition rate that is of uncontrollable magnitude. 
  • The FM organization of a retail chain learning that it is significantly below benchmarks with respect to operational performances and so on.

2. Creating powerful guiding coalitions

It is crucial that facility executives create a coalition team to lead the effort of changes and periodically review the progress. Without the help of others and a clear guidance for transformations, these tasks are impossible. For example, a FM organization of a major insurance company can create a strategic sourcing plan by establishing a task force to identify core competencies and develop framework accordingly. A university with FM department can create a process oversight committee with members from administrative department and faculty.

3. Solidifying the change charter

Change efforts are at its best when those changes are easy to communicate. This means having a well-crafted vision for the future changes and a true picture of what the management is striving to achieve. The vision should be easy to comprehend for customers, staffs, service partners and others involved in the company. It is like being able to explain the vision clearly without confusion while riding in the elevator.

4. Communicating the vision

Changes that are going to take place should be delivered within the company on a regular basis – one of the important mantras for FM organizations. This means communicating through speech, writing, and leadership actions. This calls for approval of the changes by the coalition team and taking responsibility or delegating it during the process. The senior facility executive here should describe the vision to staff members – first through a formal meeting and then through a series of large meetings where members can express their concerns and interests. Similar meetings should be held for customers and partners as well as other key executives of the company.

5. Empowering the rest to act

Effective change strategies require the collective effort of staff members in an organization. Successful changes is brought about by the team’s ability to think outside the box to create new and innovative actions. The team needs to be made sure that such initiatives will not be penalized for following policies beyond the standards set-forth by the FM organization. The team should also be able to identify obstacles and come up with solutions accordingly.

6. Creating short-term wins

Highly visible changes require many more years of constant efforts by the team working towards them. The team may become disillusioned or lose motivation during the process. Therefore, it is essential to keep the spirit of change alive by building short-term wins periodically. This means creating best practice, creating other organizations to participate in the move and providing updates of the progress on a regular basis. Small changes from time to time go a long way to sustain the spirit.

7. Leveraging progress to create additional change

Sudden changes and too many efforts for a short period of time may result in the FM organization declaring success early on. Real and deep-seated change can take place only after at least three years of efforts and the complete transformation will take five years or more. Unfortunately, many FM organizations during their second year of fight may start to see improvements and subsequently lessen the efforts to achieve the bigger vision while settling for the interim change. The organization may then slip back to the old and comfortable way of running the company unless real guidance and motivation is given by the top management to reinvigorate the effort.

8. Institutionalizing approaches that are approved

It is crucial for the change teams and guidance coalition to recharge the link between actual progress and change strategies from time to time and take necessary actions because when left on their own, FM staffs may lose their motivation to achieve the end results.

9. Studying lessons learned

However the transformation effort will be, there is always room for improvement. This means there are always strategies that would make the task easier and better in the future. It is therefore the responsibility of FM executives to ensure that the lessons learned from the previous efforts are well-documented and records of change process are created that include in-depth analysis of things and strategies that worked or failed to work.

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