The Best Return-to-Work Strategy: Facilities Management Post-Pandemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses and vaccines become more available, workplaces have a crucial decision to make: how to safely return to work. Many factors must be considered when making this decision: how employees have responded to working from home, what your state health and safety guidelines regarding the pandemic and business are, your budget and how the pandemic has affected it, the equipment and space you have available for a floorplan re-stack, and many, many more. Generally, return-to-work strategies are falling to three categories:

  1. A stringent approach: organizations will not be returning to physical workspaces until 2022.
  2. A return-to-normal approach: organizations are requiring their employees to return to the same operations as before the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. A hybrid approach: organizations have some employees attending the physical office and others working from home.

There is no right answer as to which approach your organization should take, excepting where state health and safety requirements may require you to implement certain health practices, such as temperature-taking, mask-wearing, hand-sanitizing, social-distancing, and more. All those in consideration, the pandemic has emphasized to a greater degree that the health and happiness of employees and facilities is extremely important to the health and productivity of organizations. RSC has compiled what each approach may entail, what we recommend and why, and what your organization may want to consider when returning to work. Read the following articles to learn more and determine the best return-to-work strategy for your organization.

6 Ways to Change a Business Culture: Pt. 2 — Get Out of the Way

One morning I woke up and realized that I was not happy with my job. I had great staff and great clients, but I was miserable. I have always had a running promise with myself that if I was not happy with my job, I would quit and get a new one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that because I was the CEO and owner of the company, and I had staff that were counting on me.

I contacted one of my business consultants and told him about the situation. He counseled me to hire an HR consultant. This didn’t make any sense to me because I didn’t have any problems with my staff. I decided to take his advice and hire one, though. This transition eventually led me to the CEO mentoring program, Vistage, which we talk about in other articles.

Foundation

One of the first suggestions the HR consultant recommended was to make an Org Chart. An Org Chart is an organizational tool that allows people to see the flow of a company, roles of staff, and many other aspects of a company’s work-flow. By displaying this in a visual format, one can see what is effective and where there are holes in an organization. Once again, I was confused by this suggestion — at the time there were only 15 of us in the company, and I felt that I knew exactly what was going on and who was in charge of what at all times. 

I did it anyways, and it became one of the best decisions for my company. Not only did it allow me to understand much more clearly what was happening in the company and what everyone’s assignments were, it also allowed me to communicate better with my staff, plan for future roles, and identify deficiencies. In addition, it allowed my staff and me to grow and become even more effective than before.

The second suggestion from the HR consultant was to create a RACI document, RACI being an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. This document’s purpose is to improve communication within a collaborative team. Every person within the team should be assigned a role from the acronym RACI. “Understanding Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RACI Matrix)” by Cara Doglione provides a simple example for understanding how this works:

“John is developing software feature X that will be integrated with software feature Y – developed by Jess. Mike is the project manager and Irina is in marketing. For feature X, John is responsible, Mike is accountable, and Jess needs to be consulted with as her feature will integrate with John’s. Lastly, Irina simply needs to be informed when the task is complete.”

Both the Org Chart and the RACI document began to organize the company in a way so that I was able to more fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of my staff as a whole and of each individual.

These two documents stimulated new goals for me and created a path to focus my energy. This focus rejuvenated me, therefore bringing new energy to the company.

Shadow Leadership

Once I had the organization in place, the HR consultant gave me one my most difficult challenges: to shut my mouth when my employees are trying to accomplish tasks.

I fought this principle at first because my thinking was such: I had built this company from the bottom up, I knew more about the application than anyone else, and I knew exactly what to do because I had done it before. Why would I shut my mouth and not tell my staff exactly what they needed to do?

She told me very clearly that I was stifling my staff. She explained that I was taking away their ability to contribute effectively by not allowing them to go through their own processes to reach conclusions, no matter how quickly or slowly that process may be, nor how many steps it may take them. I had to become the type of boss that could give his staff a task and trust that they would accomplish the desired results, even though they may use a different process than I would have chosen to achieve those results. Once I did this, the results were marvelous.

Putting This Principle Into Practice

A few months after I learned the above principles, one of our clients wanted to install a way-finding application. I scheduled a meeting with two of my staff to explain the project, then shut my mouth and let them figure out the best way to accomplish the task. The direction of the conversation was not going where I desired within the first ten minutes. Still, I persisted in my resolution to shut my mouth, giving only a couple of guiding comments as was necessary, and, 45 minutes later, they reached the conclusion that I thought was best. It was amazing and eye-opening to see this kind of result and growth, both in myself and my staff.

I returned to my HR consultant and shared the experience with her. She was happy to hear my results, then finished explaining this principle to me: people must be allowed to work at their own pace. Some individuals can complete a task in 15 steps, while others may take three to complete the same task. Everyone thinks differently and has their own way of completing projects, and, as a boss, I have the responsibility of not getting in the way of that process so productivity can flourish.

This is a process.

Putting this into practice, like many principles discussed in our blog, is a learning process. It takes mental effort and active choice to implement this attitude and action, but the results are well worth the effort.


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Bob Stephen’s Top 10 Business Books: #2 “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life”

I reference Marilee Adams’ book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life all the time. It has helped me immensely in my communication in the business world, because I have been able to strengthen my relationships with people.

It’s written in a narrative format, following the story of a man who has been having challenges at work and, because of that, decides that he wants to resign. He is counseled to talk to someone about his challenges before stepping away from the job. His journey and solutions are insightful, as he discovers that there are two different approaches to every situation: judging and learning.

Judger

We as humans beings naturally see things from our perspective. We want to judge situations and events according to how they line up to the world we’ve built for ourselves. Applying a single-viewed approach to any situation can lead to judging it incorrectly and reaching false conclusions, instead of asking questions to better understand why people act the way they do, why a problem was handled a certain way, or why the desired results are not being realized.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

One of my responsibilities outside of work includes participating in a board of members that handles travel and finances for a local organization. The communication style is such that members are constantly pointing their fingers at each other and trying to find  fault with one another for any problems that arise. I eventually decided to resign because the amount of exercise and energy it took for me to stay on the choice chart was overwhelming, and for my own personal growth, I chose to resign because I did not want to fall into the Judger Pit.

Learner

When we discount our tendency to jump to conclusions, and decide instead to ask questions that will help us better understand, some difficult and stressful situations will become experiences that allow us to level with people and strengthen relationships.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

A few years ago, a client of mine needed some help with the application my business provides. I chose a bright, quick employee, that I trusted would get the job done, to call the client and figure out what needed to be done. A few weeks later, my CFO came to me and said that this employee had used company time and money to fly to the client, book a hotel room, and pay for meals. I was confused and felt betrayed, because to my knowledge, the task would only have taken a phone call and a couple of hours.

I decided to apply the asking questions approach, instead of my usual approach that would lead to anger. I called the employee and asked what I hadn’t explained well about the assignment. The employee then recounted to me that he had called the client and realized that the task was not one, but multiple tasks, and that the client had authorized to pay for everything.

I am so glad that I asked instead of just getting angry. I understood the situation much better now, and I could see the logic behind the employees’ choices.

“Switching Lane”: Moving from Judger to Learner

Beginning to process an event as a judger does not mean that you will be limited to viewing things from a single perspective. The “Choice Map” allows us to see that there are different paths we all choose to take when tackling difficult situations. We can choose half-way through an event to see things as a learner.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

I have had many experiences when I think I am explaining something very well, and notice negative reactions, or at least reactions that are contrary to what I expected. I take those opportunities to switch from a judger to a learner and ask questions that will help everyone to feel closer and strengthened. I try to apply this in our Tech and Staff Meetings. I oftentimes will have to ask for clarification and/or other questions so I can understand better and help my staff become more unified.

Learning This Approach Is a Process

We all naturally want to approach events and situations from a judger perspective. Honing the skills necessary to become a learner instead of a judger is a lifelong process. Consistently choosing to change your approach to situations will help with this process, but it is choice.


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Bob’s Top Movie Picks About Business: Pt. 1 — Hoosiers: Trust Your Staff

We are excited to share a new series of articles with you that will discuss the ins and outs of managing a business. We’re taking principles from movies that we love for what they have to teach and are applying them to running a business. Please enjoy, and share your thoughts of other movies with guiding principles you think are important to the business world!

Hoosiers

In the 1986 film Hoosiers, Gene Hackman plays a basketball coach, Norman Dale, who was dismissed from his college coaching position because he hit a player. Looking back on the incident, Dale does not remember why exactly he hit him; all he remembers is that the player did not do what he wanted, and, in a fit of rage, he struck him.

Norman Dale is given a second chance when granted a position as a high school basketball coach. His team makes it to the finals, and in the championship game, Dale wants to make a call to use one of his players as a decoy so that another can score. As he is in the huddle with his players explaining the play, Dale sees that the players are hesitant. The player that was to be used as a decoy speaks up and says, “I’ll make the shot.” Watch the scene here:

When a leader, coach, boss, CEO, etc. and their staff trust each other, the company’s goals can be met with efficiency and proficiency.  The leader trusts that staff sees and executes the company’s vision.  Along the way, the staff will feel the freedom to bring new and insightful ideas to the leader that will advance the company’s vision and goals.  The leader who is open to his/her staff’s new ideas creates an atmosphere of respect and trust.  The staff, on seeing the respect and trust from the leader, will in turn respect and trust the leader.  A good leader will develop the techniques and strategies to make decisions that will include the input of his staff and cultivate trust.

How Is Two-Way Trust Established?

There is a four step process that must take place so that trust can be established between leaders and staff. The steps are: the leader establishes authority, the leader provides structure, the leader creates a cause, and the staff and leader work within their symbiotic relationship.

Establishing Authority

In order for both staff and leadership to trust one another, each must be aware of the roles that they play within the company. This starts with the leader filling his/her role as a leader. Employees must know that a leader will fulfill the expectations he or she has established.

Another scene from Hoosiers shows Coach Dale dismissing two players from the team at the beginning of the season for talking instead of listening to him. While this seems harsh, Dale understood that if he did not set up his expectations from the beginning, the team would not accomplish their collective goal of becoming champions, because they did not trust in his authority. Without the expectations of authority being met, staff cannot trust that a leader is effective, which then can morph into mistrust about how well a leader fills his/her role. This immediately undermines authority. To the contrary, when a leader complies with the rules he/she has established, the staff knows what to expect, and can proceed in their tasks without confusion. This creates trust, which will increase efficiency.

Establishing authority goes both ways. While the leader has the responsibility to be the authority figure, the staff have the responsibility to follow through with the tasks presented. If there are staff who do not want to comply, this simply means that they don’t understand the leader’s vision, and can either learn to see it, or be helped into another position within the company or change employment. Those who do leave simply need to find a place that has a vision with which they can align themselves. Read more about helping everyone see the vision here. Once the staff that do believe in the vision begin to comply with the guidelines the leader has set, authority has been established because staff believe in the leader and want to accomplish a common goal.

Providing Structure

Providing structure is very similar to establishing authority; it is established authority that is consistent. Three essential elements must constantly be provided by the leader to make sure everyone is still on the same page: context, guidelines, and resources.

Context must be provided in order to accomplish goals. Context helps staff understand the scope of a certain job or task and how it contributes to the common goal. Guidelines let staff know what a leader wants and how structured any given goal is. If something needs to be completed that does not require a particular way in which it is to be done, then this should be communicated, and vice versa. This will help staff trust in leaders, once again, because they will have a clear idea of what their objectives are. This communication may recur, if needed. Resources may include multiple trainings and meetings, or anything that is implemented to help complete the task.

Creating a Cause
At the end of the day, people want to do what they want to do. The challenge that every leader has is finding a common cause between the company’s needs, his/her personal goals, and the staff’s personal goals. In Hoosiers, the common goal was to become champions. Leaders must find something that his/her staff can get behind; maybe it’s developing an award-winning application, saving the whales, or being the quickest at delivering a product. Whatever it may be, everyone on the team must be passionate about it and motivated to contribute. This is also a two-way street. The leader finds or creates the common cause and the staff work towards it. Coach Dale’s athletes contributed to the cause, and Dale was a strong enough leader to accept their contribution which enabled their success.
 

Symbiotic Relationship
Once everyone has a common cause and processes are in place, they can begin to make game-changing calls that will ultimately lead to a company’s success. Both leadership and staff will fill their corresponding roles appropriately and collaborate effectively. As the leader continues to guide and create a foundation of authority, and the staff continue to believe in the vision and cause, everyone on the team will feel comfortable speaking up about what they know and sharing their opinions that correspond with the company goals.

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6 Ways to Change a Business Culture: Pt. 1, Set a Vision

One night, as I was driving through the mountains, it started snowing.  Driving conditions went downhill quick as the storm progressed to a full-out skier’s dream blizzard.  Powder stacked up fast – both on the road and on my windshield.  Thankfully, I was able to pull behind a snowplow.  By keeping my sights on that vehicle’s lights, I was able to (very slowly!) reach my destination.

Running a business can feel like driving through a blizzard sometimes.  If you can’t see where you’re going, it’s hard to set your tires on the right course.  At least, unless there’s a snowplow to follow.  Thankfully, there are 3 easy steps to make sure your business is on track.

3 Easy Steps to Set a Vision and Align your Company

Paint Your Picture

Learning how to use the Painted Picture concept is absolutely vital to setting up your vision.  In fact, it has to happen first.  I highly recommend you read our earlier post regarding a painted picture before finishing this article.

In any case, you have to be able to describe where you are and where you’re going if you want people to join you on the journey.  Even if it’s just you, you need to know where you’re going so that you don’t get lost on the way there.

Develop Core Values

Once you know where you’re going, you need to know how you’re getting there.  You need to know your core values.  For ours, we use the acronym TIPS: Transparency, Integrity, Professionalism, and Straightforwardness.

While you don’t have to use an acronym, you will want to create your own set of core values. We have chosen to use an acronym to assist with memorization.  Core values help align current and future staff to the same path so we can move forward together.  Nobody wonders where we’re going, how we’ll get there, or what creates success.  We already know, because we can fall back on those core values to keep us aligned and unified.

Answer: Why, How, and What?

Once you know where you’re going and how to get there, you’ve only got to ask yourself three more questions.

• “Why?”
• “How?”
• “What?”

We follow Simon Senik’s adage to answer these three questions.

  • Why: We are passionate about meeting the needs of our clients by providing state of the art, easy to use, and modern IWMS solutions.
  • How: We study technologies, review and assess for applicability, and work to embrace and incorporate the appropriate solutions.
  • What: We provide the results for medium to large companies to help manage their assets through Fast, Efficient, Professional IWMS Tools and Consulting.

By answering these question we align our team. Gone are the days where our team struggles with direction or clarity.  Instead, we’re able to quickly discuss Why, How, and What we are doing and gain consensus.  Because of these questions we know why we need to get this done, how we are going to do this, and finally, what we are doing.


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