Facilities Management Middle East
Time to train
ORGANISATIONS MUST CREATE A CULTURE OF GROWTH THAT FACILITATES TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT, SAY EXPERTS AT FM CONFERENCE 2021
Tthe third and final panel at the Facilities Management Middle East Conference 2021 spoke about education and training in the FM industry.
The panellists included Prakul Tewari, business planning manager, AG Facilities Solutions, Eng. Fahad Mohamed, director – Dubai & Northern Emirates, Adeeb Group, Stuart Harrison, CEO, Emrill Services and Uzair Bhamji, assistant manager HR Training and Development, Farnek Services.
Prabhakar Kesavan, regional general manager, Voltas – International Business Operations Group, and moderator for the event, asked the panellists how people can develop within an organisation.
Tewari said that the culture of an organization should be conducive towards an individual’s personal development. “We, at Al Ghurair, firmly
believe that it’s the culture which drives the entire organisation forward. You may have the best strategy in place, you may have the best operation models in place, but somewhere if the culture is not aligning with your strategy, then things won’t work. You need to align one’s purpose with the culture and the strategy of the organisation.”
Mohamed agreed and added: “If a person has the ambition to grow, then there has to be a culture in the organisation that allows that employee to grow over a period of time. And it’s up to us as industry leaders and companies to offer them that facility to train them or give them that opportunity to develop themselves.”
Emrill claims to have an environment that encourages development and career progression. Citing his own example, Harrison said that he joined as a director
and now is the CEO.
Bhamji who has built his career from training people for around 10 years, said: “I’ve dealt with training everyone from cleaners and technicians to C-suite staff on different topics, be it vocational, soft skills, or leadership courses. It’s about finding the right talent to fit into the right place and giving them the opportunity.”
Farnek has something called as Farnek Career Centre, where every year, it runs an assessment centre for finding its internal talent in cleaning, maintenance, or security. “It’s a fairly comprehensive assessment centre, where we’re not only assessing their technical skills, or how well they’ve absorbed the basic vocational training, but we also look at their management skills, computer skills, and so on and so forth. Out of the 400-500 applicants per year, we usually
pick the top 10 or top 20. Last year for cleaning, we actually picked up about 70. We then put them into a very structured programme, where we’re delivering different sets of courses, different sets of activities, and working them through the level so that they move from a cleaner to a team leader, or in case of a technician from an electrician or an AC technician to an MEP technician and then to a team leader.”
In the case of Emrill, Harrison says that the firm runs apprentice schemes for schools. “We’re trying to set up a proper accredited apprenticeship scheme for students who leave schools. Now, this happens in more mature markets such as Europe and America. Kids leave school at 16 or 18 and they start as technicians or trainee engineers. It’s not graduate scheme because that comes later. It’s an apprenticeship scheme. We are trying to get those young people a start in life, because that’s very difficult to do.”
Tewari pointed out the importance of soft skills in training for workers on the ground as well. “You need to check if people have the right communication skills, the right attitude, and is well groomed to be able to address what the end customer or the interim customer is expecting, and this will come by instilling a certain amount of confidence in your people to take ownership.”
Harrison agreed with ownership and that it comes through empowerment. He said: “If you make somebody feel part of a team, and you empower that person to make decisions, and then they take ownership of things. If you force somebody to take responsibility and ownership, the moment you turn your back, they’ll avoid taking responsibility. You make someone feel valued, give them choices, and then they’ll take responsibility.”
Bhamji had a differing view and believed that ownership is something inherent in an individual. “There are people with natural leadership abilities. Everyone goes through the same set of training, the same soft skills, and the same hard skills. It’s very important that you recognise at a very early stage who takes ownership by themselves. There are leaders and there are followers.”
Going back to the subject of training, Kesavan asked if the effectiveness of training can be measured by an organisation, to which Mohamed responded: “If you probably do a halfday training session and if your staff members are not going attend, then it’s not productive. We have to relook as what we do and relook at the materials that we are offering. We have to try and create bespoke training materials that is relevant to the organisation and to its culture.”
The other aspect of training is taking the time out to train workers. Tewari admitted that this is the biggest challenge. He said: “Most of our employees work long hours and the last thing you would want them to do is to come on their weekly off and attend training. So there has to be a humane approach to providing training.”
Tewari said that the pandemic helped in the way AG Facilities imparted training. The firm explored the option of gamifying training and making it more interactive, where workers got to choose various outcomes. “People can actually immerse themselves in interactive training modules which has various outcomes and every time they go wrong, they have to start from the beginning and decide the right way forward. If you can gamify training, you can make it interesting for the worker, and I think they will find the time to do it.”
Towards the end of the panel, Kesavan spoke about involving people of determination (POD) in the workforce.
Harrison said that this fell under the purview of equal opportunities and that an organisation must remove all barriers that prevent PODs from applying. Simple steps to prevent such barriers will be installing ramps in the office building.
Mohamed added by saying: “PODs also have a purpose and on this planet. They may have some extra skill. We need to identify the skillset that they have and use those speciality towards the benefit of the organisation.”
Bhamji added as an information that there is Zayed Higher Organization based out of Abu Dhabi that provides a range of services that aims inclusion of POD into the community. He said: “We’re actually working with them to create a workshop for FM. They already have a carpentry workshops. So they’re working at getting skills for PODs and trying to integrate them into work.”
Prakul concludes by saying: “I think we are in the business of managing people. There should be a humane way of doing businesses, across all levels. How well you treat your people, goes back to the culture and purpose of the organisation. The purpose that each employee determines the success of any organisation.”