Putting Out Too Many Fires?
Many promising young facility professionals share at least one trait with the most successful industry veterans. Both groups thrive on the variety and the often demanding pace of the job. Whether they are responding to something as mundane as a complaint about temperature or as dramatic as a burst pipe, facility professionals never quite know what will happen next. And they take pride in being able to handle whatever comes their way.
But there’s a downside to the rapid-fire responses that can make up a good part of any day in facility departments. A fast pace sometimes makes important but hardly adrenaline-worthy tasks seem mundane. Things like planning, networking — I’m sure that you get the picture.
I know about the problem first hand. The magazine business — journalism in general — has always been the same way. Reporters are trained to look for something new. Making tight deadlines is a badge of honor. But when too much time is spent responding to the unexpected, other priorities can be neglected.
As seasoned facility executives and learn-the-hard-way editors have found, time should be budgeted as carefully as money. It’s essential to maintain a sense of perspective about day-to-day problems. Not all problems are emergencies. A facility executive can be committed to customer service without simply jumping from one challenge to the next. Instead, ask, should this task be at the top of the agenda? Can it be delegated? How can it be addressed with the minimum of time and resources? Then use the time you save to address longer term priorities.
Being a firefighter is certainly more exciting than being a fire marshal. But without fire marshals there would be a lot more fires to put out.