Maintenance & Operations (Managing The Physical Plant)
That's What I Say
- By Michael G. Steger
- April 1st, 2016
One day recently I found myself on a roll, reciting saying after
saying in all manner of situations. That got me wondering… just how many
facilities-related colloquialisms do I know and
just what do I mean by them?
There are so many, but I thought I’d share
some of my standards, and ask that you send
me any that you regularly use.
Time Waits for No One, nor Do Problems
Let’s start with, “Why is there never enough time to do it right,
but always enough time to do it over?” I probably think this one
more than I actually say it, as I watch our facilities staff rush
through their work orders each day only to get called back on
some… a small number in the grand scheme, but a nuisance nonetheless.
I try to teach patient, methodical work whenever possible,
but it just doesn’t always work that way.
A classic saying for facilities managers is, “It may not be my
fault, but it certainly is my problem!” This could be a motivational
poster heading in each of our offices. Things such as equipment
failures or areas not getting cleaned happen
on our campuses all the time and we must
not take it personally when we hear or see it.
We should not be thin-skinned in our line
of work, and should not focus on where fault
lies. We should focus on taking ownership
of the issue. When things break down or
systems get out of whack, whatever the issue
may be, make those issues your problem
and successfully resolve them.
I have been known to say (in the proper
company, of course), “I’ll take luck over
skill every day!” While this sentiment isn’t really true, there
is a hint of reality to it. I value true expertise and love to work
with people who possess it. The truth is, as facilities leaders,
we simply cannot possess the level of expertise necessary to be
able to address each and every possible scenario; our campuses’
needs are much too diverse. We shouldn’t rely too heavily on
“luck” in anything we do. It is vital that we make it our mission
to know as much as we can about as many things as we can. That
said, there comes a time where we need just a bit of luck to get
through the day!
Share the Load
On the idea that we can supplement our skill with a touch of
luck, one of my favorite sayings is, “When in doubt, sub it out!”
Because I cannot possibly possess knowledge of every possible
situation (though my wife and a few close friends would argue
that I believe to the contrary), there are times when we need to
bring in an expert in a specific field. This can apply to anything
from equipment to engineering, dishwashers to desiccant
wheels. Highly skilled technicians need to know their limits. It is
often those folks that are the hardest to convince when it’s time
to call in the cavalry, as technical types are a proud and tenacious
lot. I make sure to point out to anyone in this situation that
this is not admitting defeat, but is instead allowing someone else
an opportunity to succeed!
How about, “Measure twice, cut once”? Certainly this began
as a term specific to carpentry, but when we back up and look
at this from a higher level, we can apply this as an analogy to a
great number of things. I encourage my tradesmen to be certain
of their measurements, but this applies to so many other things
as well. Essentially, we need to do proper planning throughout a
process or project, and then be sure to check our work before we
make it a final product.
I’ll close with what may well or
should be the facilities managers’ creed:
“Under-promise and over-deliver!”
I can think of only a very few times
where I actually set out to set up my
team for success following the meaning
of this creed. However, I can honestly
say that we are a practical lot, and
setting proper expectations of those
we work with is important. If you are
not sure how long something will take
add a bit of time to it to allow for the outside forces that could
affect it, then if all goes well, the job will be done sooner and
you and your team are seen as heroes. If you tell someone what
he or she want to hear in order to move along, you could well end
up on the receiving end of a problem… don’t make that problem
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.
Michael G. Steger is director, Physical Plant, for Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, FL. He can be reached at Stegemik@berkeleyprep.org.