Professional Development: Human Resource Management

By Tony Rankin
Published in the November 2008 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Health, safety, and security are concerns that are often shared between facilities management (FM) and human resource (HR) departments. Human Resource Management (HRM) is the design of formal systems—often by members of FM and HR—to ensure the effective and efficient use of human talent to accomplish the goals of the organization.

A well designed HRM program should encompass appropriate employee evaluation, reward, diversity, and disciplinary programs. Each activity requires a well thought out plan of action.

Performance Appraisals

Every employee expects—and is entitled to—an annual evaluation. Under the HRM, managers administer performance appraisals that objectively relate to the output and achievements of personnel. Facility managers (fms) should keep the following guidelines in mind when conducting evaluations:

  • Remember that the appraisal represents a year of performance for the employee and not just the last few months or any one memorable moment within the year.
  • Schedule the meetings in advance, so staff members can also prepare for appraisal review.
  • Allot 45 minutes to one hour to conduct the appraisal, and don’t be late or put it off unless there is a true emergency.
  • Set a firm date, and stick to it.
  • Document comments, and make sure they accurately support remarks in the appraisal.
  • Set goals and strategies for the employee. This will further convey how the employee can accomplish specific goals and achieve success within the organization.
  • Allow the employee to comment at the time of the appraisal and also submit written remarks the next business day.

Disciplinary Action

One of the most difficult tasks for any fm is to discipline employees who display sub-standard performance or who do not comply with company policies. Most organizations follow a standard procedure for disciplinary actions that may include an oral warning, written warning, probation, and as a last resort, termination of employment.

When employees are let go, it should never be a surprise. They should know this last step is imminent.

For fms, documentation is a critical aspect of disciplinary action, since it outlines any problems along with the steps for corrective action. It even gives employees a chance to offer their recommendations to eradicate or fix the problem and improve performance.

Disciplinary action is not meant to convey pending termination, but it should be used as a process that says a problem has been identified and it needs to be corrected. Otherwise, employee performance may diminish even further if termination appears inevitable.

One way for fms to communicate this effectively is to show staff members how to correct any problems through “How and Why” training. This is where employees are not only taught how to do the job correctly, but they are also made aware of their importance and shown how they impact other departments or personnel within the organization.

Disciplinary action should only be used as a last resort to help create a turnaround in an employee’s performance. If all efforts have been exhausted and the employee’s performance is still sub-standard, then fms may wish to consider job reassignment or termination.

Incentive Programs

Many organizations have set practices that allow them to meet and maintain acceptable administrative standards. Making sure that all staff members understand—and comply with—these goals and objectives could be the difference between the company’s success or failure.

Employee incentive programs provide rewards to those who meet criteria that is parallel with job descriptions or standard operating practices. They can also inspire a healthy competitive edge between departments and individuals. Incentive programs will not eradicate blunders, but they may help reduce careless errors while improving employee morale.

Managing Diversity In The Workplace

The U.S. workforce is now more diverse than ever before. Women are in the labor force in larger numbers, and the average employee age continues to rise.

However, the workplace may foster some behaviors that could cause concern. Unfortunately, racism and bias are the most frequent problem areas, even in this day and age.

The best way for an organization to overcome these conflicts is to encourage open discussions as part of a diversity management program. To initiate an effective program, fms must:

  • First gain commitment of executive management;
  • Manage and be accountable for the results;
  • Form a diversity committee and establish multicultural teams; and
  • Conduct diversity training and establish a mentoring system.

The only way the cultures can be seen as less hostile is by working through processes of understanding racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender issues, age bias, and other differences. Diversity management meetings can give employees the chance to “tell it like it is,” so an understanding between groups is reached and conflicts are eradicated or avoided entirely.

An inclusive HRM program is one of the main building blocks of a successful and harmonious workforce. Fms who take the time to document specific strategies in this aspect of HR will be well on the way to cultivating a solid employee base.

Rankin is a facility manager with Chicago, IL-based Children’s Memorial Research Center.