Original Date: 11/17/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Managing Change through a Team Environment
Providing total quality service (TQS) is a team effort at the Department of Plant Operations. The Department employs 55 people who are distributed throughout three functional organizations: the Environmental Services Group, the Maintenance Group, and the Office Support Group. The Environmental Services Group manages academic, administrative, and residential issues. The Maintenance Group handles heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning; groundskeeping; general repairs; auto/fleet; safety; plumbing; carpentry; electrical service; and general maintenance. The Office Support Group addresses work orders; warehousing and delivery; and maintenance assistance.
Plant Operations established cross-functional teams to ensure high quality delivery of services and address issues associated with utility management, recycling, education, quality assurance, maintenance, and work orders. Teams are the essential ingredient for managing change throughout Plant Operations and ensuring consistency with the Department’s mission, goals, and objectives. To promote team participation, everyone from the functional groups must serve on at least one team. Each team establishes its goals for one year. The team leaders work together with the Director and Managers as the management team.
Developing teams at Plant Operations has been an evolutionary process. Most teams took two to three years to establish. Department staff receives basic training in teaming concepts and Total Quality Management prior to establishing a team. Team members are interviewed regarding their comfort level on a particular team and whether they feel that they are contributing. Teams are established to address pertinent issues. Some teams cease when an issue is resolved or a task no longer needs team guidance. Plant Operations uses Ad Hoc Groups to address hot topics. At one time, 12 teams existed currently there are eight.
Team accomplishments include: Education The team focuses on delivering education to Plant Operations’ workforce. Projects include installing computer access to the Internet; reviewing new courses for employee learning; and setting up a library so employees have easy accessibility to “how to” books associated with their jobs. The team was also instrumental in acquiring a $2,000 grant for education from the President’s Fund for Distinction. Most courses center around formal classes in mathematics, English, reading, writing, and physical and emotional wellness.
Utility Management The team focuses on tightening control of water, sewer, electricity, and gas usage on campus. Projects include setting up a computer monitoring system to track and control electrical usage in each building; implementing scheduled meter reading of gas and water usage for trend analysis; improving sewer fee calculations; installing motion sensors in lighting systems; participating in the Green Lights program, and using variable speed drives with motors. The team places great emphasis on energy conservation training and awareness throughout the campus. Utility Management initiatives produced an accumulated savings of more than $300,000 in the first six years.
Recycling The team focuses on creative ways to recycle paper, cardboard, leaves, food scraps, and other waste normally sent to a landfill. Educating the campus and establishing incentives were the greatest challenges faced by this team. Projects include recycling leaves and trimmings into mulch; sorting and selling paper; and composting food waste. Profits from recycling are shared with the Residence Hall Association so students can purchase items for use in their common living areas. The team’s initiatives saved approximately $18,000 each year.
Safety The team focuses on safety issues, provides safety training to Plant Operations’ workforce, increases safety awareness on the job, conducts periodic inspections, and tracks safety performance. These efforts reduced Plant Operations’ insurance premium from $131,000 in 1992 to $81,000 in 1997, and produced a $13,000 annual rebate.
Plant Operations’ cross-functional teams successfully manage change and provide the best results for the Department. The teams have ownership of their projects, and can freely recommend and implement their solutions.
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