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By Charles Carpenter
Published in the April 2011 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
You might be surprised to find someone making an argument for human cloning, let alone in a publication aimed at the facility management (FM) profession. Truth is, it may be high time that we commit the resources to cloning our most important human resources: ourselves (also known as facility managers or fms).
Think about it. How often do fms need to be in two places at once? Even in the smallest of facilities, there are times when people expect their fms to be checking on an HVAC issue while helping someone find an extension cord at the same time. Need to check on a tripped breaker and cut off a running toilet? No problem if you have a clone.
Do you personally complete the task that takes you 10 minutes? Or do you delegate it to someone who takes an hour and then calls you for help when stuck? If you had a clone, you could send it to do the work and still get all of your own tasks accomplished.
Long work weeks would be much shorter with a clone. Problem in the middle of the night? Let the clone wake up and handle it (or have your clone sleep in the electrical room). A clone would be a step closer to being the miracle worker—as everyone expects an fm to be.
Even if cloning were possible, it would create some confusion for secured access, paychecks, and visiting on Mother’s Day (but make it easier to decide who to send to the in-laws).
Since cloning is not a reality, here are some pointers for the mere mortal fm:
- Check on your disaster recovery (DR) plan to see if you have been cloned. You may find that the fm is supposed to be talking with emergency personnel while simultaneously on a conference call to update the situation. Also, double-check that DR plan so it uses job titles instead of names of people who are long forgotten.
- Check your e-mail account to see that it spell checks e-mails before sending the message. Everyone makes typing mistakes, but misspelled words can undermine people’s confidence in the best fm.
- Do you have important building documents backed up on a flash drive that can reside in the fire department’s lock box or the glove box of your car? The situation where you need these documents could be the same situation where you cannot retrieve them.
- Have you checked your clocks lately? Even without the daylight savings time shuffle, critical clocks can lose programming. Generators do not exercise if the clock is not programmed properly. Employees show up to a warm building because the HVAC starts an hour later than planned. Parking lot lights do not come on or stay on unnecessarily because the timer is off.
The biggest hurdle to advancement for an fm might not be lack of ability, but it may be the lack of someone with the ability to assume his or her role. If we cannot clone an fm, maybe we can clone the knowledge that we have built up.
Finding the time to train staff may be just as important as checking the fuel levels in the generators or turning off the irrigation system in freezing weather (unless, of course, someone has already been trained and delegated to handle this task automatically).
Since we are not closer to cloning fms, we need to find a place to recruit and prepare our replacements. This means contacting your state legislature and universities and explaining to them the importance of FM as an offering for higher education. If we cannot clone the fm, we need to have fertile ground to develop the future ones.
Before you dismiss cloning fms, think of the positives:
- Real opportunities to use vacation time for a vacation;
- More time to read Today’s Facility Manager; and
- Getting home before dinner is cold.
Given the respect fms usually receive, odds are the first people cloned will be bosses, whiners, and complainers—and not the people we truly need.