- We all know about the impact on the planet due to global climate change, and it’s clear that everyone — especially those working for large corporations, has a responsibility to take action.
- For facility managers, it’s important to lead by example.
- These managers should incorporate sustainable practices into their own routine and encourage their colleagues to do the same.
This article was originally written by Sarah Speroff of MovePlan for Work Design Magazine.
Changing our behavior and the behavior of others is always difficult. We all know about the impact on the planet due to global climate change, and it’s clear that everyone — especially those working for large corporations, has a responsibility to take action.
Who is typically responsible for making sure sustainable actions are taken? Who is responsible for changing small behaviors that can have a cumulatively large impact? Even when senior leaders within large organizations set the sustainable objectives for the business, it is often those in charge of the physical workforce — facility managers — who are required to drive through sustainable practices, and this often means changing their behavior and the behavior of those around them.
How should facility managers approach implementing sustainable practices and what are the key things they need to do? From a change management perspective, we see two major elements that facility managers should consider when faced with implementing sustainable initiatives and getting employees on board.
Element 1: Start with your own education.
Any good change program starts with digging in and understanding why the change is happening and what it means for everyone. It can be very difficult to get someone on board with change when you, as the leader of that initiative, won’t understand why it’s happening in the first place.
As you begin your education, ask yourself and your team these four questions:
1. What are the objectives of the program?
Understanding the high-level objectives or goals is key. Without this awareness it will be difficult to create a plan for implementation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about them so your understanding deepens. It’s more than likely the questions you ask will be asked of you, so this will also ensure you’re equipped to answer them properly.
2. What are other organizations doing?
In the quest for a more sustainable future, it’s acceptable to borrow techniques from other companies; it’s actively encouraged. Ask around your industry peers to see what activities are taking place to help with implementation, understand what people are struggling with, and what solutions others have developed to curtail these challenges.
3. What does a successful program look like?
If your company has already determined success metrics for the program, you’re a step ahead. If not, spend some time thinking about the ideal outcomes of the program and how your team will drive results. Here it’s also critical to think about your audience.
What have your clients struggled with in the past when it comes to using the facility or workspace? Reflect on past initiatives and what successes or challenges have been relevant in past projects and use those points to influence success in a new program. Further, it is paramount that leadership is on board and actively supporting the FM team to successfully implement a program. Encourage them to be visible and supportive — and ideally, leading by example when the program commences.
4. Does your team have the tools and the ability to implement it now? What are you missing?
Make sure you and your team understand how you will achieve success when implementing any changes. That means understanding how to track progress (the technology you will need to leverage and track metrics, usage etc), what communications and/or training may need to be developed, and how their day-to-day responsibilities may change. Any gaps in your toolkit should be identified with a goal in mind to find a new solution. You can also find help from external organizations whose sole focus is on sustainability.
Element 2: Take your knowledge to the streets.
Now that you and your team understand the goals, you recognize what success will look like if done right, and have everything you need to implement the activities — it’s time to think about roll out.
Here are seven key things to consider when you’re rolling out your sustainability program with your clients:
- As a facility manager, it’s important to lead by example. Incorporate sustainable practices into your own routine and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
- Consider building a cross function coalition to tie the sustainability program into other relevant support areas that are impacted by this initiative: technology, transport, human resources. In fact, get other teams on board to take a vested effort and create a well rounded perspective on action for change.
- Next, provide awareness about why the company is making changes and how those changes may impact their daily routines. Once people understand the “why,” you can share some of the easy ways they can get involved and demonstrate how even slight changes in their behavior will make the working environment (and far beyond) a better place.
- This leads us nicely onto education: educate your colleagues about sustainable language, practices, and initiatives — bring this into the everyday, so it becomes familiar and ultimately inherent in the way you talk and work.
- Hosting workshops, “town halls,” or Q&A sessions are great ways to begin this engagement and education. Curate content to support your education efforts and make sure the information is easy to engage with and digest. These can be distributed at events and made easily accessible on company platforms and around the workplace. All this will help in supporting your people in understanding how to incorporate even the smallest sustainable practices and behaviors into their day to day.
- Make it easy for people to get involved and participate in the change. This can be bolstered by encouraging active participation from all employees in the company’s sustainability efforts — but start with influential people like leaders who use the space and have high visibility in their environments. If you can get these individuals to model the correct behaviors, chances are others will follow suit.
- Recognize and reward sustainability efforts of those who make significant efforts to contribute to sustainable practices. Reward systems and competitions tend to yield the best results when you’re looking to really change behaviors in a group.
Changing our own and others’ behaviors can be challenging. Through education, understanding and recognition, we can all make adjustments that can have big impacts, not only on each other’s daily habits, but also on the successful delivery of new sustainable policies and practices within our organizations — and ultimately these behavior changes can have a materially positive impact on the safeguarding of our planet.