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Change Management



We have all heard the adage that the only thing constant is change. Not only is this statement accurate, but in fact, change and expectations of change are increasing exponentially. There are changes in customer expectations, changes in building systems, changes in information technology, changes related to building construction and building system performance, changes related to the environmental impact of our operations (including sustainability and energy), changes in security requirements, changes in reporting capabilities, changes in workforce demographics, and so on. In turn, access to the Web and e-mail has led to an increased demand for timely and accurate information. Facilities department and physical plant employees often see change management as something that is required of other departments at the college and university. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, failing to change with the times and new demands will doom the facilities department to mediocrity. To achieve the world-class service that many of us strive for, we must be willing to embrace change and prepare our organizations to do the same.

The true challenge of organizational change lies not in the mechanics of making change, but in addressing the cultural norms that define the current organization. This begins with identifying the need to change and having the willingness to honestly examine every aspect of the organization. Management must be able to detect trends in the macro-environment, as well as the micro-environment, to be able to identify changes and initiate programs. It is important to estimate what impact a change likely will have on employee behavior patterns, work processes, technological requirements, and motivation. The program must then be implemented, disseminated throughout the organization, monitored for effectiveness, and adjusted where necessary.

Change also will affect the individuals within the organization. People who are confronted by change will experience a form of culture shock as established patterns of the organization's culture are altered, or as staff view those patterns as being threatened. Effective change management requires an understanding of the possible effects of change on people, and how to manage potential sources of resistance to that change. Management must assess what employee reactions will be and craft a change program that will provide support as workers go through the process of accepting change.

Change management includes both organizational change management and individual change management. Organizational change management includes processes and tools for managing change at an organizational level. Individual change management deals with understanding the people side of change. When combined, organizational change management and individual change management provide a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state.

Once the facilities manager has identified and accepted the need to change, various concepts and processes will make the change effort easier to implement. When leading change, the facilities manager must understand the various roles of a change leader. Facilities managers must be able to develop and effectively communicate a shared vision with a strong sense of urgency. Developing a strong coalition and gaining departmental buy-in will help to overcome the normal resistance to change. It is critical that the facilities manager understands their work place culture and anticipates resistance to change or any gains may quickly revert back to the old norm.

To effectively implement change, the facilities manager must have an obsession with quality, and this obsession must become part of the facilities organization’s culture. The facilities manager must embrace the concept that quality leadership starts with the customer. In turn, the organization’s goal should be to meet and exceed customer needs. Quality organizations encourage teamwork in order to foster a sense of unity in purpose, and everyone within the department must understand that work always has some form of structure. By embracing quality service as the “norm,” following prescribed procedures for process improvement, and effectively utilizing teams, the facilities organization can ensure a successful change program.

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