Asking for recognition 

Laura Birnbaum  [square]It’s an oft-uttered sentiment that FMs only receive attention when something goes wrong, so it is important to ensure that the team is thanked for a job well done – even if you have to ask for it, says Laura Birnbaum.

In the winter of 2017, my FM team was given five months to deliver a complex programme of 273 projects in record time across the UK to improve the court and tribunal estate in collaboration with the judiciary. The HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) estate consists of 350 court and tribunal buildings. 

Five million pounds of additional funding had been secured by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice on top of the annual maintenance spend. The task was clear; to make sure that as many sites as possible that were in disrepair benefited from improvements. 

The shortage of time, hard stop date at the end of the financial year and the weather made this a mammoth task. Then, with six weeks to go before the end of the financial year, another £2.4 million was made available for a further portfolio of projects! 

This is not about how we managed (dedicated PM resource combined with the sheer grit and determination of the team!) or whether we succeeded in delivering the works (95 per cent completed), it is about ensuring that what was delivered was clearly communicated and the efforts of the team were recognised. 

Getting the recognition we deserved 

Making sure that people were aware of what was happening in their region and across the estate was important, so we compiled a brochure outlining the project’s delivery and shared this with the HMCTS senior management team and published it on our intranet. 

What went into our brochure 

We included evidence and statistics to demonstrate performance and ‘before and after’ photographs to bring the data to life; 

  • We focused more on listed sites or those that required the most innovative solutions; and 
  • We included quotes from the business to highlight the positive outcomes and show their enthusiasm for future similar schemes. 

Requesting thanks from the CEO 

I made sure that our project was given time at board level to recount the team’s successes. The CEO recorded a thank you message for the FM team and the whole of the estate directorate. The message to FM was clear: the court environment matters to court users and staff; and our senior leaders understood the team’s challenges and recognised their achievements. 

When approaching your CEO or boss for a public thank you, it is important to: 

  • Work towards this goal through a continuing relationship; it’s not a single snapshot; 
  • Regularly update them on project milestones and contextualise any issues and risks that you have overcome;
  • Identify what more needs to be done by your team; 
  • Thank your CEO for the opportunity to work on the project; and 
  • Show your team’s commitment to the organisation by supporting wider corporate initiatives. 

Extend the gratitude 

The entire delivery chain also benefited from a thank you. We sent letters to our suppliers commending them for their effort and professionalism in delivering such a high volume of works in alignment with our processes and reporting standards. 

Entering awards or writing articles highlighting the success and lessons of a team are also useful for delivering a high-profile thank you. 

Broadcast successes 

Success is not only about large and exciting one-off projects, so it’s crucial to communicate the ongoing achievements FM services deliver. One way we do this is by sending a regular newsletter to our operations and senior management teams to showcase innovations, problem-solving and successes across the portfolio. 

It is a tool to share achievements and provide context for FM delivery in our estate. Across the estate we confiscate 8,000 items a month and have more than 2,000 cells to maintain in an estate of 1.67km2. What statistics could you include in a newsletter?

Laura Birnbaum is deputy director at HM Courts and Tribunals Service and the recipient of the IWFM Manager of the Year Award in 2018

Image credit | Shutterstock  

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