The Lighter side of Facility Management Complaints

The Lighter side of Facility Management Complaints

By:  Gary K. Pino, FMP Having been deeply inspired by our two newest IDO Associates (Yvonne Rush’s and Lindsay Ferro’s) latest blogs (Top Things – Part I Posted: 1.20.14 and Part II: Top Things I Wish I Knew in School Posted: 1.23.14 – Read about the Top things they each have learned as recent graduates and young professionals in the industry, I have chosen to follow a similar approach; focusing on the lighter side of Facility Management.  During my many years of experience in the Facility Management field, I would like to share the Top legitimate (frivolous) ‘complaints’ that I have received over the years: The Top FM Complaints that I have received and the things I’ve learned to resolve the issues as an “Old(er)” Facility Manager: 1. The temperature on MY side of the cubicle is

  • too hot
  • too cold

(this one is especially comical when the call comes from two people sitting on the exact opposite side of the workstation / cubicle panel from the other). Creative & effective solution: Suggest to the complainant(s) that they dress in layers and keep a sweater handy … and visibly check the thermostat. 2. My workstation/cubicle size  

  • has less square footage than my peer / neighbor who is the same grade level as ME.

Creative & effective solution: Drop back ten yards and punt” … a simple football term and analogy reflecting you have been painted into a corner, and this is a no-win situation conversation that you are about to encounter.  For some reason, most complainants only care about themselves when it comes to cubicle anything – especially real estate.  Even if you try to use the logic that each grade level & workstation has a standard square footage allotment but certain facility locations dictate certain limitations, it just doesn’t matter to the individual sitting in the smaller cube.  When this happens, certain concessions usually start to appear (i.e., the smaller cube person will probably be in line for a private corner window location, their own purified water cooler, a nearby coffee station with espresso and a microwave with unlimited popcorn packets). 3. The Restroom …

  • is out of supplies / has rough toilet paper / has much too soft toilet paper
  • is filthy
  • is clogged and overflowing

Creative & effective solution:  Have a good Custodial Group on hand and a great Plumbing Contractor available 24/7. 4. The Parking Lot …

  • doesn’t have spaces close enough to the building, and I have to walk too far
  • doesn’t have enough reserved spaces for our company, and I have to walk too far

Creative & effective solution:  Suggest to the complainants to practice the “If you’re not early, then you’re late” arrival to work policy.  In other words, if you snooze you lose. 5. The Elevator …

  • is too slow
  • is too fast

Creative & effective solution:  Suggest to the complainants to take advantage of the Company sponsored Physical Fitness Program / Benefit and take the stairs … that way, one could move at their own desired speed. 6. The Lunch Room fiascos …

  • someone stole my lunch
  • the machine ate my quarter
  • we’re out of Coke – OMG
  • I saw an ant

Creative & effective solution:  Personally, I could never understand how the Facilities Department got sucked into the first three complaints but for some reason it’s guilty by association.  In any event, it’s time to send out the periodic reminder memo telling people to please honor the “Refrigerator Honor System”; Provide the contact name & address of Vending Company for candy bar reimbursements; Contact the Coke vendor ASAP to get the Coke replenished; Call your Pest Control immediately before the sighting of one (1) tiny ant hits the grapevine and turns into an army of ants and gang of cock roaches have ascended into the lunch room. 7. I don’t like the colors of the walls – they are offensive to “ME” Creative & effective solution:  With so much diversity (i.e., generational, cultural, social-economical and educational) in the world and workforce today, I usually say the Serenity Prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.)  In other words, I simply try to understand that I can’t please all the people all of the time; so I just try to please as many people as I can and then try to ease the pain of the few remaining. 8. Miscellaneous situations or things that have absolutely nothing to do with Facility Management related activities but FMs usually get roped into them anyway …

  • Jane is wearing too much perfume
  • Tom is wearing too much cologne
  • He/she didn’t wash their hands when they left the bathroom
  • The planter containers are putting off a putrid odor

Creative & effective solution:  Well, the first three bullet points again fall into a category all by themselves called Human Relations, Common Courtesy / Common Sense and Good Hygiene Management … need I say more? No, I didn’t think so either.  With regard to the smelly planter situation, this is a real problem but can easily be squashed if employees simply don’t pour their left over coffee and pop into the containers.  This costly planter replacement issue requires the periodic friendly reminder to all employees, notifying them to care for the planters as if they were their own. In summary, one of the most important things that I have learned as a Facility Manager is NOT to ever disregard, avoid or deny that a perceived complaint is real to the complainant.   The worse-case scenario of wanting a complaint to just vanish could turn into a nightmare if not confronted head-on.  After all, most complainants have been known to take action into their own hands and “fix” the problem.   Well, in many cases, their so called jury rigged fix could be an OSHA violation, really not fix the problem, create further problems and/or keep the problem from ever really being resolved. Creative & effective solution:  Communication – Communication – Communication … and take responsive action.  Formally acknowledge receipt of the alleged issue, converse with the complainant, listen carefully to the complaint, review all sides of the story, measure its merit and promptly respond accordingly. Your immediate action will simply demonstrate and add to your successful service oriented credibility. Please share your lighter sides of Facility Management as well as your creative & effective solutions. Photo: © Rudie –

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