Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Understanding people's motivations and increasing diversity are great ways to strengthen any workforce.
By Scott Mason
"Teamwork makes the dreamwork" is a phrase that aptly applies to the world of facilities management.
At times, Multi-Site FMs wear many hats within their organizations and have daily interactions with a variety of departments. This requires FMs to not only assemble and maintain a trusted group of employees directly under their guidance, but also to work well with others outside of the facilities sphere to accomplish any goal.
Trying to get along with others that you deal with on a daily basis seems like common sense — but as many can attest, this often is easier said than done. All employees come into an organization with their own unique mindset, differ-ent life experiences and assorted ways of conducting business. Different ways of thinking can lead to clashes and blowups that may derail an objective. However, a skilled facilities professional can get the train back on the tracks with strategic ways to strengthen his or her team and keep them thinking positively.
Defining Values in the Workplace
A team is only as good as the sum of the individuals composing it. In an ideal world, you’d be able to find 20 people who have the exact same motivation and behavior in order to accomplish a task or goal. But that’s not always easy.
Sunjay Nath, MBA, CSP, HoF, a world-renowned business expert and public speaker, noted that every individual’s day-to-day actions are based on a set of what he terms "value prints." The problem for most people is being able to properly identify what their coworkers or teammates rank as most important.
There are three simple ways to figure out what values each employee holds most dear, he explained: asking, dictating and observing. The results of the first and second may be less accurate, as a person could simply be saying what they think you want to hear. But observation provides insight into a person’s motivations and allows you to adjust your approach to make a team more successful. “If I come by your desk and see pictures of your spouse and kids, I can assume that you have high family values,” Nath said. “If I see pictures of you out partying with friends, I can recognize that and can better tap into you.”
Finding out what makes team members tick allows coworkers and managers to better identify with them and create an environment primed for success. Nath compared this idea to how a car salesperson markets a vehicle to different groups of people. You’re going to sell the airbags and safety of a vehicle to someone with a family, but for a teenager, you’re going to highlight the acceleration and stereo. “It’s the same car,” Nath said, “but I’m going to articulate differently based on what’s important to you.”
Nath said that even during times of increased remote work, things haven’t really changed in terms of team building and execution. “The same core value is there, which is, as a group, we’re going to work together, we’re going to share our strength, we’re going to have a common strategic vision for the organization and we’re going to work toward getting there,” he said.
But the way we work now has shifted. “When you have in-person interactions, you have a slightly different demeanor in that we’re all very good at hiding our socialisms throughout work,” he said. You’d go to the water cooler and share stories and jokes at the office, and that was a part of the workday — nobody cared or noticed. But with remote working, people are held more accountable for how they’re operating every minute they are on the clock.
“Some coworkers are expecting a breakdown of your whole day,” Nath said, which is not conducive to team welfare and happiness. People are dealing with a whole range of new challenges during normal working hours, from assisting with virtual learning for school-aged kids to even a heightened sense of fatigue or worry that may come from stay-at-home orders. Nath said we should be allowing for the softer side of things — remembering people are only human and not accounting for every second. “Either we trust our people, or we don’t,” he said. "If you don't trust them, they're not right for your team. If you do trust them, give them an opportunity to do their job.”
Defining Values in the Workplace
Along with an increased emphasis on working from home, another consideration prioritized in 2020 is diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Those in leadership roles now — if they didn’t already — understand the value of a diverse team and how it increases the power of any operation. McKinsey and Company, a global management consultant company, surveyed the top 1,000 U.S. companies from May–October 2020 and found that:
32% of companies made statements in support of racial justice
22% made external commitments to promote racial equity through measures like donations or strategic investments
18% made internal commitments to promote diversity and inclusion within their own companies, such as requiring more diverse hiring pools for open positions
Risha Grant, an Oklahoma-based public speaker with more than 25 years of business experience, at one point owned and operated the only diversity communications firm in her state. Today, she travels the world and educates groups on how to “get rid of the B.S.” in the workplace. No, not that kind of B.S.: "We’re talking about getting rid of the bias and eliminating racism in the workplace,” Grant said.
Although desire for a more diverse workplace typically swells first within the lower ranks, organizational leadership needs to buy in to the idea in order to make a true impact. “Management needs to understand that it’s a part of their business’ sustainability, and in my opinion, it’s always been a business imperative,” she said. Grant noted that what first began as corporate social responsibility is now being transformed into corporate social equity. “It’s time to pay more attention to how people are being treated [within your company], as people are the heartbeat of any company or organization.” If people are unhappy in their work environment, they’re not able to give you the best they have to offer, which in turn affects the welfare of the entire team.
Grant is seeing a wide range of diversity and inclusion (D+I) initiatives take root in businesses across the country. “You have some companies just starting — doing some training and opening the door,” she said. “But then you have some companies that have really audacious goals where they want 50% [of the company] to be diverse. They want to have a supplier diversity program, meaning that when they look across their partner list, they’re inclusive of every type of company that’s out there.” The reason, according to Grant, is that diversity equals dollars and always has — some have just failed to capitalize on it until recently.
According to Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting group in Boston, diverse management teams have been shown to be more innovative, and therefore more profitable, than their less- diverse counterparts. A survey of 1,700 companies of varying sizes showed that companies with above-average diversity produced a greater proportion of revenue from innovation (46%) than companies with below-average diversity (26%).
For companies not moving forward with D+I initiatives as quickly as the workforce may wish, Grant said that all employees at a company, no matter how small the role, should strive to be a voice for the voiceless. “There are small things you can do every day to be an ally,” she said. One of the most effective ways to jump start these policies is simply by speaking up. Even if leadership or management does not implement the ideas immediately, planting the seeds can create change down the line and result in more effective workplace relationships.
People Matter the Most
At the end of the day, even within a giant corporation with thousands of employees, the treatment of employees has a staggering effect on job performance and, in turn, company performance.
Creating a harmonious work environment where everyone feels they are treated fairly and leader-ship teams are looking out for their best interests allows for better communication, better performance and, maybe most importantly, better results.