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out of focus

Martin Read
Martin Read

07 May 2019 Martin Read


Martin Read discusses the numerous small yet difficult areas of mastery required from workplace and facilities managers.


I’ve always had an issue with video conferencing. If your eyes are focused on your subject’s face, ironically they’re not on the camera that would show you looking at them, with that being typically positioned just above the screen. The other party gets to see me looking slightly above or to the side of their eyes, not directly into them.


Richard Mullender may have helped me with this. At last month’s IWFM Conference, the former hostage negotiator spoke of how ‘eyeballing’ your subject - locking eyes directly - can make people uneasy, changing the nature and quality of a conversation. A good face-to-face exchange, and good listening in general, involves this kind of body language. My off-kilter camera gaze may actuslly be a good thing.


Mullender was full of small yet powerful tips, from seeking meaning in waffling to the way overly casual follow-up questions can distance you from your conversation’s original goal.


Later, Carolyn Taylor spoke about how hard cultural change programmes can be on those tasked with overseeing them; inculcating behavioural change in others requires significant behavioural change in you first.


Finally, by way of Henry V’s example, Jonathan Stebbings equated power of language with quality of leadership.


So, a plethora of small things to change, but what they all have in common is how difficult they are to master. And it’s important that they are mastered, because speakers from marketing, HR and IT all told us how wonderfully positioned this profession is to lead fundamental organisational change in the years ahead. The world is waiting for workplace to step up.


Aye, as Stebbings may well have said, but there’s the rub:  workplace and facilities managers need to become better listeners, braver managers; stronger leaders; a focus on just one of these isn’t enough.


There’s a sense of the desired ideal for a workplace professional being ever so slightly out of focus, just fractionally out of kilter; that a few meaningful tweaks across a range of personal performance indicators could change everything. It’s as if what’s needed is a sudden, sharp jolt to the system. If only there was an image I could use to illustrate such a thing.


Martin Read is editor of Facilitate Magazine