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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Columnist: Nick Solomon

Midland Saga: The facility management perspective

It has been a buffet of opinions in the past days concerning the unfortunate occurrence at midland savings and loans, a reputable financial institution that has been doing business in Ghana for the past 21 years.

A security officer from the Ghana police who was on duty at the savings and Loans Company is seen brutally assaulting a customer for obstinately staying in the banking hall after banking hours.

The victim confirms the bank, for more than 5 days has refused to honor her deposit redrawing efforts, ignoring her desperate need for money hence the unfortunate ending. The Ghana police service has said the behavior of the police officer is contrary to the professionalism and tenets of the ongoing police transformation programme. I say in all confidence that the unfortunate event is a business structural failure and the absence of a vital position every institution needs; THE FACILITY MANAGER.

The facility manager? YES!!! The facility manager. It sounds a bit alien in our part of the world but very familiar and strategic to thriving businesses abroad.

A facility manager is one that ensures the functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology. They are there to influence the safety, wellbeing, health and productivity of the built environment (“the human-made space in which people live, work, and recreate on a day-to-day basis.").

Security is one of the key responsibilities of the facility manager’s job. In every organization there are structures. Amongst the many structures is one we call the chain of command. Irrespective of how the organization’s chain of command is structured, non-core activities like security, cleaning, janitorial, building code compliance falls under the jurisdiction of the facility manager.

The facility manager is there to offer functionality support for the core business of every organization. In recent times, the facility manager’s role encompasses non-core customer experiences. Unfortunately most organizations do not have facility managers. The few ones that have such positions are occupied by under trained personnel.

Talking about non-core customer experiences, security personnel assigned to such business environments like midland savings and loans should have periodic customer relations training tailored to the dynamics of whichever business setting they find themselves at post.

It is not enough to just assign security officers to banks, their services in the bank sometimes demand less of force application and more of dialogue arbitration when it comes to customer handling.

However force must be applied when a more alarming threat erupts. This discerning abilities are supposed to be clearly passed-on by the institution’s facility manager who is responsible for the security men.

Under no circumstances must force be applied to evacuate a customer who has a genuine reason for being in the banking hall. Until Ghana appreciates the strategic role of facility managers in our growth process, this unprecedented event that happened at midland savings and loans will be the first of many. The bad image created by the negligence of midland will cost them a lot to ameliorate.

The case of midland savings and loans should be a learning curve for businesses and decision making bodies. Two weeks ago, Nigeria’s senate for the third time read and passed the Facility Management Council(FMCN) of Nigeria Bill, 2018(SB.340).

Nigeria seeks to institutionalize facility management in the country as a way of improving their built environment for sustainability and growth. It has immense economic benefits and can radically improve our way of living. Let’s get the right tools in place if we really seek growth in Ghana.