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By Bronson Terry
From the April 2024 Issue


Patterns occur everywhere in nature. From the rising sun to the falling leaves, the Fibonacci spiral and breaking ocean waves—we don’t need to look far to find a natural pattern occurring. Think of it, even in the most remote forest of Patagonia, where human hands will never touch, life flourishes. Why? Patterns. Some short and simple, others long and very complex. But, with near metronomic precision, these patterns occur, and, should these patterns be interrupted, chaos ensues. If the most complex and dynamic ecosystems benefit from repeated patterns, how can we, as part of that greater ecosystem, benefit from incorporating similar patterns into our daily work?

The daily life of facilities managers may, at times, seem even more complex than the entangled ecosystems of Patagonia. We routinely juggle the needs of our employees, clients and corporations. Finance and budgets, maintenance and cleaning schedules, staffing shortages, the next new product, incorporating robotics, driving sustainable outcomes, preparing for the next board meeting, safety requirements, and on and on. Soon, it can feel overwhelming.

Pattern of Management
(Credit: Adobe Stock / Red diamond)


So, how do we bring order to this potential chaos? By this time, I suspect you’ve already guessed — patterns.

Patterns of management can bring the same metronomic precision that we find in nature to our operations. With the chaos managed, we can do more than survive; we can thrive and elevate our programs to the next level of excellence. Our clients, employees, employers and sanity will thank us for the rhythm of success we can gain from instituting small and simple patterns to take control of the big picture.

Patterns of management can bring the same metronomic precision that we find in nature to our operations. With the chaos managed, we can do more than survive; we can thrive and elevate our programs to the next level of excellence.

Where do we begin? First, we should establish what is important. Purpose, goals, focus, aims. Without truly understanding what is important, we can quickly get in the thick of some pretty thin things. Patterns that are misdirected or misfocused can be even more detrimental than having no pattern at all. But here is some good news, if we have already established unhealthy patterns of management, like sitting at the desk all day instead of engaging with our teams—we can change. We can improve. We can start a new healthy pattern today.

While everyone determines what is important differently, here are a few guiding principles that have helped me establish effective patterns in my management.

  1. Understand what is important to the client, to the organization, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders. Is it finance, customer service, keeping employees safe, ensuring that elevators are inspected and maintained, or something else?If we don’t meet these vital needs, we might not have the opportunity to pursue more meaningful interests. By identifying these vital focus areas and establishing patterns of management to ensure they are attended to appropriately, we will already be on the pathway to success.
  2. Identify how you will make a difference to the organization or the company and where that will take you. Where do you want to be 10 years from now, or 20? Do you want to be an innovator? Do you want to make a difference in the lives of your employees? Do you want to solve big problems? What inspires you?

We can identify these difference makers and regularly devote time to them (even if but a few minutes every day), and over time, that can make a big difference.

Once we have identified what is important, then just like the patterns we observe in nature, we can do small things consistently and achieve big results. Here are a few simple patterns that I have incorporated into my facilities management practice that have created purposefulness, meaning, and order for me.

  1. I prioritize building gold standard facilities operations. I have found that one very effective way to do this is to be present with my teams where I can hear, feel, sense and even smell what needs to be done. For me, being present is very different than being available. Being available is passive, while being present is active, and that distinction seems to make all the difference. These meaningful interactions that occur while being present lead to collaborative improvements that I would never find or accomplish by sitting behind a desk. My teams and I find chemicals that don’t work, employees that need more training, roofs that need mending, and so on. I pattern time frequently to be with my teams, my clients, in my buildings both in person and through virtual interaction. This simple act of consistency has led to big results and improvements over time.
  2. patterns
    (Credit: Adobe Stock / KMNPhoto)

    I prioritize creating and innovating new best practices for my team and for the organization. Every month, I schedule time to focus on innovation in my pattern of management. I meet with vendors, look at new products, listen to sales pitches, review other programs and operations, etc., and thereby learn and develop what more we can do to benefit our clients. No one is forcing me to do this; it is not part of my performance review. This choice to be proactively innovative is something I’ve established as an important priority. So, I choose to devote a pattern of time to it. This has produced exciting results and big improvements that have lifted the quality of my programs and the energy of my team.

To establish effective patterns in our management, start small and begin by identifying one or two simple areas of focus that are important and are not yet achieving the desired results or find one or two areas where you want to make a difference. Identify an activity that you could do that would accomplish the desired objective. For example, if you are not managing your finances well, you might consider a pattern of reviewing your income statement every morning for 10-15 minutes before walking your buildings or responding to emails.

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As you seek to establish effective patterns, remember that your calendar controls your life and is a good place to set and follow through on your personal patterns of management. For example, schedule prime time to be present with your team every day. Once you have set an appointment for an important pattern-of-management activity — keep it! Hold it as you would an appointment with the President or CEO. In time, these simple, consistent, focused activities cut through the noise and confusion and achieve big results.

Have fun learning and growing through patterns — this lesson taught by the natural world. Learn to establish effective, focused and consistent patterns at the core of your day-to-day activity. Following patterns in your management might even induce a benefit that we often see in nature as well — more serenity and peace in our work.

facility management

Terry, Southwest District Manager for Sodexo North America University Facilities, has a track record of improving the quality of facilities operations. To learn more about Terry, read his FM Profile feature.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at jen@groupc.com.

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