15 December 2015 | Jamie Harris
BIFM's people management SIG put on an event recently at which organisational psychology and executive coaching specialist Glenn Mead spoke about how we should all "recognise our inner chimps".
This needs explanation: The "inner chimp" is the part of our brain that reacts instinctively and naturally to stimuli, usually in a negative way. Mead used the example of a perfectly rational individual suddenly enraged by being 'cut up' by another driver on a motorway. The emotional and aggressive response one might have to such an event is when your inner chimp, driven by instinctual fight or flight responses, takes temporary control of your actions.
Mead spoke eloquently about how to master this aspect of our personalities, and of coping strategies that allow our frontal lobes (the bit of the brain in charge of our intellect) - to return quickly to a state of reasoned response.
We asked our Think Tank members: just how good are facilities managers at controlling their inner chimps? Of recognising the first flush of anger, responding well to sudden unexpected events, of keeping their cool in a crisis?
Are FMs preternaturally cool under pressure? Is it their well-honed inner chimp management that makes FMs stand out from other not-so-cool-heads in the typical workplace?
Sixty-nine per cent of respondents agreed that FMs are naturally calm in stressful situations, while the remaining 31 per cent are of the view that FMs are no calmer than anyone else.
One respondent said that FMs have a "crucial role" in a crisis. "They need to remain level-headed in order to lead others through it. Bananas, anyone?"
Another FM noted the obvious requirement for considerate customer service in FM, but stressed that it has not always been at the forefront in the industry.
"The fact is that sometimes it all piles up on an overworked, understaffed FM and the stress can come out in flailing aggression.
"In a 1990s London government agency, civil servants paid to provide FM were quite uncivil as they belligerently rebuffed any caller audacious enough to ask for maintenance.
"A rural local government manager kicked a metal waste bin right across the office of staff who had requested improved service.
"A regional FM, so habitually rude to FM staff that eventually that behaviour extended uncompromisingly to visitors and senior management - result, fired."