New Technology: Don't Be 'That Guy'
By Dan Hounsell, Editor - August 2012 - Facilities Management
Commercials for personal technology are having a field day with "that guy." You know which one. The one asking how to post videos on YouTube. The one angry with his cable company who ends up in a roadside ditch. The one living with "flip phone shame." There are more examples too numerous to list.
What is that guy's problem? If you believe the commercials, he is too stupid or narrow-minded or otherwise occupied to make much of an effort to understand and embrace personal technology.
Are you that guy? Well, you don't need to be.
One strategy for avoiding the problem is to take advantage of the seismic demographic shift taking place in many maintenance and engineering departments in institutional and commercial facilities: the generational changeover. As older technicians, supervisors and managers retire or otherwise move on, organizations are replacing them with younger workers.
For years, managers have struggled to find new workers who are interested in the maintenance and engineering profession and who have the needed skills to maintain today's complex systems and components in facilities. Granted, in many cases, such workers are tough to find, and they often require additional training — both formal and on-the-job — to bring them up to speed.
But in spite of all of their possible shortcomings, these younger workers probably bring an interest in — and experience with — personal technology that departments and managers are sorely lacking. Many managers and older workers might be hotshots when it comes to the technicalities of HVAC, plumbing, lighting and roofing systems and the maintenance needed to keep them in peak operating condition. But they generally feel far less than comfortable when it comes to personal technology.
Smart phones, tablets, and related high-tech gadgets — along with the accompanying social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, to name just a few — are confounding to more than a few managers. While that discomfort is understandable, given the speed with which such technology is advancing, it doesn't have to last. And it certainly doesn't have to stop managers from applying these and other emerging and expanding technologies to solving the numerous ongoing problems facing maintenance and engineering departments.
So instead of being that guy — and, more importantly, being viewed as that guy throughout your organization — turn the challenges of a younger workforce into a real opportunity for the department and the organization. Be that guy, but in a good way.
Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.
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