Sunday, 22 November 2015

Organizational Skills

Organisational skill is best described as the ability to use time, energy and resources to effectively achieve goals. This description of organisational skill is enough to give you a sense of its importance, not just in your career but in your everyday lives.  An organized person often makes full use of their time and achieve their objectives for the day.

When you display good organizational skill at work you will realise that you become  more productive and are able to achieve your end results in a shorter amount of time. You will find it easier to meet deadlines even when you have multiple of them. Employees with organizational skill gives the employer an indication of their capability, a good impression to the bosses which may in turn lead to promotions. As you move up the ladder into the managerial roles planning skills become a more prominent part of your career. To move up the career ladder it is therefore important for you to get organized. 

I bet many of you often leave your office wondering what have you done for the day? Yes you were busy but you seem to have a lot more work left behind. It feels like you have not done anything for the day. You keep wondering where your time had gone to. If you feel this way, start worrying. Although you may be part of a huge number of people who feels this way, it is important to note that there are some people who feel exactly the opposite.  They leave work feeling happy and satisfied that they have accomplished everything that they have set to achieve for the day. They have met their target and goals for the day and now they can go home relax and unwind and leave thoughts about work behind. They can be physically and mentally present for their family and friends without having to think about work when they are with their loved ones. So what is it about these people that are so special? Well organisational skill! They plan their day and set up short term targets and goals to meet for the day which eventually lead them to meet their long term goals. It makes them have a purpose for each day and helps them be focused on their goals. Organizational skills help individuals plan and prioritise their actions and activities in a way that makes them achieve their goals.

Getting organized is really quite simple.The first step towards getting organized is to make a list. You do not have to start too far, you may begin by simply making a list of your tasks for the day. 
The basic logic for making a list is simply to keep you focussed and set your goals for the day.  This list will make you productive in an orderly manner and eliminate or minimize distractions. You may go one step further and arrange the items on your list in order of priority. Start with the urgent tasks first, get them cleared followed by the simpler tasks and so forth. You may provide a timeline for yourself to accomplish each task. Once you have completed a task, you can scratch them off your list . Savour the satisfaction of scratching the tasks off your list. Trust me it will provide you with the motivation to complete the next task on hand. You will also realise that with this list, you tend to multi task less, even if you were distracted by phone calls or your colleague, you will come back to your list and complete your tasks in an orderly manner.

Besides prioritising, you should also identify from your list tasks that can be delegated or postponed. This helps to ensure that the task is completed while you can focus your attention on other tasks. As a Facilities Manager, I am sure a lot of the tasks on hand are to be delegated to the respective service providers, you job is to monitor if they have completed the tasks accordingly and satisfactorily. 
The next important step to becoming more organized is to reduce clutter. Clutter is the main stumbling block towards being efficient and productive. Both mental and physical clutter is equally bad. Do you know that your desk often shows the state of mind you are in? Don’t believe me? Try observing the desk of one of your colleague or managers who always appear clam , relaxed and in control and the desk of a colleague who is always  anxious, complaining and stressed. Notice the clutter on their desk yet?  You will notice that in case of the calm and cool person, their desk is free from clutter, everything has a proper place, documents filed away neatly whereas in the case of the stressed up person their desks often cluttered and they often have to search through a pile of stuffs just to find a document. 

Organisational skills not only have a positive impact on your career, it also have a positive impact on your health. It is one of the best way to relieve stress. A simple thing like getting your wardrobe organised can have some impact on your stress level. 


Poor organisational skills may cause stress and anxiety. Imagine you are already stressed up with your work assignments and you have to come to work and face a pile of mess on your desk everyday.  Stress induced headaches and backaches are a common physical symptoms that are more prevalent in people with poor organisational skills. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Mental Strength & Facilities Management / Owners Association Management

Mental strength and OAM or FM …seems like a very unlikely connection?A lot of you may wonder what has mental strength got to do with FM and OAM? Well Owners Association Management and Facilities Management has a lot to do with mental strength. 

What?

Mental strength in my opinion is the ability to compartmentalise your thoughts and emotions so that it will not get in the way of your decision making. It is the ability to keep calm in trying situations and the ability to keep a positive attitude when facing trying times. 

How? 

Since I am not an expert in this field, i  am going to touch as little as i can on how you can improve your mental strength. It is best that you explore the “how” portion on your own, but one popular method of improving mental strength is meditation. Anyway, as you explore more on ways you can improve your mental strength you will find that they all have one common denominator and that is to teach you to relax. Enough about the how let us get to the crux of this topic. 

Why?

No matter which country you are working in, the job of a Facilities Manager or a Strata Manager is surrounded by a sea of negativity. For the most parts an FM or OAM is aways dealing with problems from human to technical.  Dealing with unhappy tenants and service providers on a daily basis can definitely take a toll on anyone. Everyday you are faced with a thousand and one problems to solve. Its understandable that on some days or weeks it can be so trying that you may find it hard to get out of bed. 

When you are filled with negative emotions, it is very hard to perform your job well. Coming from a negative place and having to deal with less than ideal situations at work may prove to be detrimental to your performance. Negative emotions may cloud your judgement and cause you to make impulsive decisions. 

A good FM is one who is able to conquer his or her emotions and think objectively. An FM’s job is not just based on technical and theoretical knowledge, FM’s job also has a large Emotional component to it as 90% of the job involves dealing with and managing people and this requires a tremendous amount of mental strength and control over one’s emotions. If you have read my entry on dealing with complains you will find how relevant mental strength is in your job as an FM. 
Company Level



For an FM or an OAM company, your people is your asset. It is therefore good if you could invest in the betterment of your staff , improving their quality of life. On a company level you can conduct courses on improving mental strength for the benefit of your staffs. People who are mentally strong thrives in a challenging environment. I am sure I don’t have to tell you that certain commercial,industrial or even residential property can have a tenant mix that can be especially challenging for an FM or OA manager. Despite an experienced FM, you will also need someone who have a good control over their emotions and tremendous mental strength so that they can withstand the challenges faces, sometimes on a daily basis, for longer duration. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Owners Association Management Part II (Owners Association)

Let’s continue where we left off. In my previous post, I mentioned that the Owners Association is a legal entity. The Owners Association consists of all owners and at every General Meeting a group of owners will be elected to form “the Board”. The function of the board is basically to manage and maintain the shared areas and facilities , also known as common areas, on behalf of the rest of the owners. The Board consists of minimum 5 and a maximum of 7 members(this number may vary in different countries) . The services of the Board is not paid, it is usually on a voluntary basis. Owners who are elected by fellow unit owners to join the Board can always decline. 

In every country, the conduct and role of the Board is clearly defined or spelled out in the relevant laws. In Dubai for example, the law governing this is the Jointly Owned Property Law, in Singapore its called Building and Strata Management Act. 

Every Owners Association will collect service charges from all owners to raise funds to manage and maintain the property. The funds collected are categorised into General Fund and Reserve Fund. The General Fund will be used to fund the day to day operations of the estate like paying for cleaners, utilities charges,landscape contractors, paying for repair and replacement works so that the shared areas, facilities and equipments in the estate is maintained and are in good working order. The Reserve Fund on the other hand, like  its name suggest, are funds reserved for carrying out repair/replacement or maintenance for long term capital items.

The amount of service charges levied from each unit owner is derived based on the share value or ‘unit entitlement’ which is in turn proportionate to  the floor area of the unit. Each country has a certain criteria to follow when assigning share value or unit entitlement to a unit.This ensures an equitable distribution.

Apart from overseeing or ensuring that the common areas and facilities are in good working order, the Board is also given the task to ensure that the community rules are being abide by. This usually the more challenging role as it is not easy to ensure that everyone living in the building follow the rules. 

Sounds like a lot of work for a volunteer you might say, well sadly it is true, however the Board can choose to delegate their duties to an Owners Association Management.  We will elaborate more on Owners Association Management in the next entry. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Owners Association Management Part I (Strata Titled Property/Jointly Owned Property)

What exactly is Owner’s Association Management (OAM)? Some of you may be familiar with this term but for some this may be the first time that you are hearing this and not to mentioned is pretty much overwhelmed by the whole concept.  You may have just moved into a building that is managed by an Owner’s Association and you may have some problems understanding what they do and how they operate. So this is pretty much for you guys out there who is new to OAM. 

Before going further to elaborate on Owner’s Association Management, let me first touch on the reason OAM exist. Basically, there are a certain category of property that are classified as Strata Titled. This properties are basically divided both horizontally and/or  vertically and has some shared areas. A good and common example will be a condominium. A condominium consists of several apartment units (that are owned by different people) with shared common areas and facilities like corridors, lift lobbies , stairwells,swimming pool, lifts etc. The shared area basically are jointly owned by all the owners in the condominium. It is therefore the responsibility of all the unit owners in a condominium to manage and maintain these shared areas and facilities. 

Strata titled properties are common in countries like Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

The Owners Association basically consist of all owners in a Jointly Owned Property and every year the condominium will hold a General Meeting to elect a group of owners to represent all the owners to manage and maintain the common areas and shared facilities. 

India- Apartment Owners Association/ Co-operative Housing Society

Thailand- Corporate Committee

Singapore- Management Council

Malaysia - Condominium or Apartment Residents Association


These Owners Associations is a legal entity which can sue and be sued. It works just like a company with shareholders, the company is basically a separate legal entity from its shareholders. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Ego and Customer Service

Ego. What is ego? Ego is defined as a person’s self esteem or sense of self importance. Ego is often accompanied or rather associated with all things negative. I have observed the effects of ego on building managers and I can safely say that on most occasions, ego has gotten in the way of excellence in customer service. On the flip side I have also seen ego save a career and credibility of a person.

My basic belief is that ego prevents a person from believing or admitting that they are wrong. That they made a mistake. Sometimes when serving a customer, when you realise that you or one of your staffs/ colleague had made a mistake all you have to do is admit your mistake and apologise. Once you have accomplished this step, you can than move on and solve the problem on hand. Someone with an alarmingly large ego however is unable to do this.  Admitting that they are wrong is akin to committing one of the seven cardinal sins, its akin to not admitting to murder despite the fact that all evidence points at them. 

Once a person with a huge ego is pointed out their mistake, instead of admitting and apologising, they will start getting defensive and in a worst case scenario  launch into a verbal attack against the customer. 

Let me give you a simple example related to building management; it can be something as simple as a tenant complaining to the building manager that the lights in their hallway is not working and the Building Manager being the busy soul that he is forgets to fix the light. Weeks went by with the tenants tolerating groping through the dark hallway every singe night when finally he has had enough and decided to confront the Building Manager. The Building Manager instead of just admitting that he had forgotten all about fixing the lights went of and be defensive stating a million reasons why he did not fix the lights. This aggravates the tenant even more, leading him to complain against the Building Manager to his superiors etc when the matter can be resolved by a simple apology and the Building Manager taking steps to rectify the lights.

By the way the above example is a true one not just something i imagined . 

The problem with this three lettered word (Ego that is for those of you who are a little slow to catch up …today ) is more widespread amongst older more experienced men. Again this is not something i imagined or made up but something that i unfortunately experienced firsthand on many occasion. 
The higher their rank , the more experienced they are the less likely they will admit they screwed up. If they have it their way they will “fake it till they make it!”. Meaning they will even go to the extent of convincing not just the other party but themselves that what they are doing or advising is right. That they have not made a mistake. The words “ I am sorry i F***ED Up or I don’t know!” are simply not acceptable.

This is simply because the higher you are the more you have to lose. These people are simply afraid of losing their credibility especially in the property or building management industry where your reputation is important not just for your own career but sometimes for your company (depending on the scale of the mistake and situation). 

I guess in the correct situation and circumstances  ego is acceptable. I have personally seen people having both extremes and got away with it. What i am trying to say is I have seen people swallowing the humble pie and admitting their mistake and people convincing others that they haven’t done or said anything wrong gotten away with it. Even the greatest and most successful businessmen and politician (especially) have done both. Sometimes losing your credibility is just not an option for people higher up in the food chain.

In my opinion,people in the frontline, need to be more customer centric than ego centric. We are in the people business, our business model and philosophy must be customer centric model.
i believe building managers must sometimes leave their ego out the door and start becoming more emphatic. Only with this attitude can they understand their customers better and endeavour to solve their problems.


Remember in the property or building management industry, you will need to deal with complains almost on a daily basis. You should therefore adopt an attitude which helps you serve your customers better. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Body Language in Handling Complaints

I am personally super excited to write this particular entry today. Dealing with complaints, complains, a bane in a Building Manager’s existence. Why can’t people be happy with what they have? Why must they complaint of seemingly trivial matters like noisy neighbours, low water pressure, mirrors in the hallway is not as shiny as they want it to be, lobbies not spotless etc. Why ? Why ? Why? 

Having been in your shoes for years, I can totally understand your frustrations. However I hate to break it to you , almost 70% of a Building Manager’s job involves dealing with complains. You will have to face difficult tenants no matter which part of the world you work in. I am  going to use the term tenant in this entry in place of clients, residents, apartment owners. Lesser for me to write and easier for you to understand. 

The first step we should take here is to understand why people complain in the first place.  Basically complains arises when your expectations are not met. For example when the tenant moved into a condominium, they expect the condo to be a classy one, with spotless lobbies, working gymnasium equipments, a well maintained and clean swimming pool to name a few. And they will be upset when they do not get what they are paid for. So naturally to get things done you will have to complain. Do understand to complain also takes effort on the tenants part. They will have to spend their time and energy coming to your office , calling you or writing you an email to convey their displeasures. Often when something gets to a complain stage , it often shows that the person is really affected by it. 

Oops forgot to inform you that  in this entry we will  deal with how to handle verbal (face to face) complains, will discuss other forms of complains on subsequent entries.  The first thing you should do when faced with a complaint is to (and this is very very important) change your mindset. Adopt a positive mindset, open your mind, clear your mind of all preconceived notions and stereotypes.  Immediately put yourself in the complainants shoes and try to feel what they feel.  This small yet significant step is especially important when you first receive a complain. 

Imagine if the complainant ( who may be your tenant or member of the building committee) come to your office or you having to meet them, already have a negative attitude towards the situation, you start thinking that these people are rich and demanding, they love exaggerating and their complains are ridiculous. You already have a negative attitude towards the situation and you will not be able to deal with the situation as best as you can. when negative and negative collide things will become more negative. What i mean is, your negative attitude will lead you to convey negative body language and instead of helping the complainant solve their problem you will make things worst and create an unpleasant  situation for yourself.  A person who complains is more often than not angry and upset. They might shout or raise your voice at you, demanding a response and when you start shouting,get defensive and getting angry back, it does not help solve the problem. You will focus on defending yourself on getting angry and not on solving the problem on hand and be done and rid of the complainant. Therefore the first step to change our mindset to a positive one and to empathise is important. 

When you adopt a positive mindset, your body language will automatically change as your body language responds or mirrors what you are thinking and feeling. 
Wow that's a long introduction and it has nothing to do with body language. I know. I am getting to the point now but at the same time i do not wish to breeze through the part on changing your mindset as it is one of the most important step when dealing with complaints no matter how nasty they come. 

In the last entry, I highlighted the importance of body language in communication. A large percentage of communication is non verbal. Knowledge and skills in body language can help you in your professional life and give you an added advantage over others and also an added advantage in situations. The police force, politicians all recognise the important role of body language. They use it to their advantage in important events like making speech during their elections. Body language has also landed some politicians and criminals in hot soup. 

When dealing with complainants, after changing your mindset, the next important step is for you to adopt an open body language so that you can build trust and rapport with the complainant. When you adopt a positive mindset your body language will naturally align with your thoughts and you will subconsciously portray a positive body language which will enable you to win the complainant over. 

So what exactly is a positive body language? Well the following are positive body language that will help you turn a negative situation around or at least enable you to build rapport and trust from the other party.

If the other person is sitting, you ought to do the same. If you are standing and the other person is sitting, it may look like you are talking down on them.

Regardless if you are sitting or standing, keep an eye of your posture. Sitting or standing up straight indicates confidence. When the complainant gets the impression that you are confident, it is easier for them to trust you.  Stand up tall and widen your stance. Of course ladies…not too wide that it appears indecent. 

When you are sitting down , lean in so as to indicate that your are actually listening and are interested. 

As you are already aware, make eye contact. Eye contact is important but of course do not stare till the other person get uncomfortable.  You will be glad to know that some studies have shown that the more you have eye contact with the other person, the more they will grow to like you. (useful for dates i guess ;p )
Give the complainant your full attention, drop everything else that you are doing and focus on them. 

Ok this is an important point, sort of my secret weapon. Basically if you would like to create a rapport with someone what you should do is mirror their body language, but do it subtly so that they will not notice it, If they are leaning forward, you do the same. If they are using hand gestures, do the same but again the key here is subtleness. Sit in the same way they do (if appropriate). 
Use open palm gestures. An open body language helps yourself and the complainant to relax. 

The above are things you should do.Now I am going to tell you the stuffs that you should not do. The negative body language.

First and foremost is folding your arms. I know you may sometimes do it because you are feeling cold but when someone is in a heated mood and is complaining to you they might associate folding of arms with negative attitudes . They may think that you are being defensive, disrespectful or hostile towards them. 

Do not tap your feet or fingers as it signifies impatience. That their complains are not worth your time. 

Avoid pointing your finger. I have seen many situations spiral out of control just because of this simple gesture. It may be perceived as threat, that you are threatening the other person.


Sitting on the edge of your seat may show that you are feeling edgy. Sit back and relax, be comfortable. When someone sees that you are comfortable their attitude towards you may change for the better. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Body Language and Facilities/Building Management

In this entry I am going to talk about the importance of understanding body language. Body language is an important aspect of communication  and understanding body language can be an added advantage to help you excel in your career. As a building manager, you use up a huge percentage of your time communicating with people from different walks of lives face to face. From talking to contractors to dealing with complains and conducting meetings, you are in contact with people for most of your working hours. Understanding body language not only make you aware of the feelings of the other party towards you but it also makes you aware of your own body language and the signals you are sending to the other person. It allows you to judge the other person better and respond to them better.

In a face to face communication, basically the words you use, your tone of voice and your body language are the three main components. The non verbal part or the body language is particularly telling as it relays information about a persons feelings, attitudes and if they are telling the truth. The non verbal behaviour stems from your subconscious mind it is therefore more telling than what a person is saying as your non verbal action is sometimes not controlled consciously. 

The body language you use when dealing with contractors may differ from the body language used when dealing with residents or tenants. With contractors, you may want to adopt a more authoritative demeanour whereas when dealing with angry residents or tenants the same body language may not help. You might want to use gestures showing that you are open and accepting to them so that you can win their trust.  You cannot give off an air of hostility or superiority when dealing with residents or tenants for they are your customers. Therefore you need to be aware of your own body language when dealing with people. 

How you respond to a person, your posture, gestures, demeanour and tone of voice has a significant impact when dealing with people. Facial expression, eye contact, attentiveness all are a part of generating an effective communication. 


I truly believe that knowledge in body language can value add your service as a Building or Facilities Manager because a large part of the job basically is knowing how to manage people. In the next few entries I am going to devote my time into teaching some of the basics on body language. We will also touch on listening skills as being a good listener is just as important. 




Sunday, 29 March 2015

Communication Skills & Building Management

Communication is an essential part of our lives. Since we are born we start to develop our communication skill so that we can interact with others and articulate our thoughts and feelings. In our adult lives we learn that apart from our daily lives we also have to communicate on a professional level within our working environment and in social set ups. The means of communication have also multiplied within a short period in the recent times.  With the advancement in technology we can now communicate through emails,text messages etc. It is therefore important as a professional that we learn to communicate both verbally and in writing. To get our message across and to ensure effectiveness and efficiency it is important that we have the ability as a professional to communicate clearly. 

Just like any other profession, communication skill is essential in the building management industry. In recent times, the nature of communication skills that a building manager should have, have changed rapidly and I find that a lot of the more experienced building managers are struggling to adapt to this changes. 

Why is communication important for a building manager? First and foremost a building manager has to deal with tenants and/or owners in a building. On top of that building managers must also deal with contractors and other vendors involved in the maintenance of the building. A building manager bridges the gap between the contractors and building residents or tenants. Why do i say that the nature of communication skills that a building manager should have, have changed in recent times? The answer is simple, two reasons, globalisation and advanced technology. 

The effect of globalisation have crept in and affect the way we live more than we sometimes care to admit. These days you can find people from different parts of the world living or working under one roof. As a result building managers now need to deal with a diverse  group of tenants or residents with different culture and background. A building manager now more than ever has to be tactful in the way they communicate. The contractors that a building manager now work with are also from different countries, therefore they will need to adapt the way their communicate so that foreign workers and vendors can understand them and deliver. 

Advanced technology also means that building managers are dealing with a well informed clientele. They will therefore need to know and understand every aspect of their job and deliver the right information and be credible to the tenants and/or owners. 

Building management is a service oriented industry. There is no product to sell or promote, you, the building manager, are the product. For a company providing building management service, your staffs are your product. The only way you can differentiate yourself from your competitors is through having a competent group of staff working for you. One of the many ways you can improve your service standard is to improve communication between the building managers and building occupiers. 

Communication is important in creating and maintaining relationship between building managers and building tenants/residents. Often building managers fails to see the importance of communication with building tenants and residents. A simple greeting and smile goes a long way and treating their building related problems like it is your own goes a long way and speaks volume about your customer service. Building managers need to be skilled in handling complains and one important factor which enables one to handle complains effectively and professionally is communication. The power or rather importance of communication in the building industry must therefore not be underestimated. I have seen experienced managers who are very knowledgeable and experienced in the building industry  be called a bad building manager despite their vast technical knowledge in building maintenance. Your knowledge does not mean much f your cannot articulate it to the intended recipient. It can be easily undermined if you do not have a good communication skill. 



I strongly feel that building management companies should send their staffs on training programs to improve their communication skills. Develop or improve your “products”. Equip them with knowledge and most importantly with communication skills because from my observation, a lot of residents or building tenants will initially judge a building manager by how well they communicate. It is no good to have knowledge but unable to communicate it. In an industry where dealing with angry, disgruntled people is a norm, having good communication skills  will certainly allow building managers to handle these people efficiently and effectively. Once a building manager is able to handle more and more disgruntled residents more effectively, a building manager will find handling complains a less daunting task and will be happier to serve the building occupiers, thus improving the service standard. And to state the obvious, this will have a direct positive impact on the company’s reputation in the industry. The building tenants or residents’ opinion a building management company largely depends on the building manager on site.  The behaviour of just one person can have a huge impact on how your company as a whole is perceived. 


Communication skill is not just restricted to verbal communication but it also encompasses writing, listening and body language. Rest assured I will touch and go into depth on communication skills in my future blog entries. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Problem Solving !

Problem solving is a widely talked about subject in many industries today. Research in problem solving has made quite a progress since the 1950s, be it in the psychology or cognitive sciences department or computer science and engineering department, problem solving methods are continuously being studied and improved upon. 

One essential point to note is that there are methods to solve a problem. If you were to search for problem solving on Google, you will have about 59,700,000 hits. An overwhelming number no doubt. It is however important, in my opinion, to note that problem solving methods does not follow a one size fits all principle. You may need to adopt a different problem solving method in different industries or different circumstances. 

Building Management is no doubt a problem solving job. Lets face it, if there are no problems than there are no need for building managers. Regardless of the type of building a building manager manage they are always faced with a myriad of problems on a daily basis. While the nature of most of the problems may be similar, there are however some differences which varies according to the type of building. We shall not delve deep into the similarities and differences in the types of problems faced as it is not really the main aim of this entry. 

The problems that a building manager face may range from technical problems to legal problems.  According to Roger Dawson in his book “ Secrets of Power Problem Solving,” problems can be separated into either a money problem or people problem. Through my experience, i find that this is exceptionally true especially in the case of the building management industry. No matter how many meetings, discussions or brainstorming session that you may have on a problem it all boils down to whether it is a people problem or a money problem. The next time you are in an Owner’s Association meetings or Management Council meetings just observe if this bit of information i just provided you with fits in the situation you are in. 

By identifying if it is a money problem or a people problem  you can safely say that you have half the battle won as you now know who or what you have to address. Let me give you a scenario to help you understand the above point better. Lets say for example there are talks that the lifts in the building you are managing needs upgrading. So yourself together with the owners of the building and the lift engineers hold a meeting to discuss the matter. After the building owners have specified their intentions and requirements, the lift engineer or representative from the lift company proceed to submit their proposal and quotations.  After receiving these, the owners of the building couldn't seem to decide if they should go ahead with the upgrading works. Now if you listen carefully during the meeting you can discern if the problem is actually a problem with people or money. Maybe  the main cause of the debate is because there is limited money to fund the project. If this is the case than you can facilitate to zoom in on this point during the meeting and offer ways to work around the problem or simply inform them that based on the limited fund upgrading the lifts may not be a good idea or alternatively you can give them suggestion so how to raise the money or how to work around this money problem. There is a good chance that the existing lifts are still in good working order and can last for many more years. Forgive me for not being able to give you a more lucid example at this point but in general I'm confident that you do get what i am trying to express. 

Regardless of how complex a problem is it is always a function of a few major factors, so states Morgan D. Jones in his book “ The Thinker’s Toolkit, 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving.”
One important thought process that i have before i begin with the problem solving process is “ Does the problem need or deserve a solution?” . Well the answer is rarely no, and no  I’m not asking this question just to amuse myself, it is a genuine question that helps intervene an exhaustive, mentally and emotionally draining problem solving process. If you think about it, not every problem needs a solution, especially if it is a one off thing. Sometimes by attempting to solve this so called “problem”  you are making things more complicated for yourself  and the various stakeholders. 

In your attempt to solve a problem you may come across various set backs and most of the time these setbacks are self imposed. Self imposed? How? you may ask. Well if you google problem solving you may stumble upon the concept of  “mental set”. Mental set is basically your nature of falling back into using tried and tested method/s to solve a problem. When a solution to a problem has worked well previously, we tend to stick to the method without exploring other more effective solution. From carpark management problems to security problems, we tend to use the tried and tested solutions that has worked previously without attempting to think of new, innovative and more effective solution. In your career in building management i am sure you have come across a lot of similar problems over the years and many building managers end up employing the same method to solve problems and not think of a new and better solution. So how do you avoid falling into this trap? This is a true challenge. How do we train ourself to be innovative and think outside the box? Well the answer is by looking at a problem from a different angle, from a fresh and new perspective. 
One way of looking at a problem from a fresh or new perspective is through restating or redefining the problem. State the problem differently from “What causes the lifts to breakdown?” to “What makes the lifts work smoothly?” . If you can see by just turning the question you automatically changes your focus and the way you think . 

In order to solve a problem,you will need to get to the root cause and one method i like to use to get to the root cause of the problem is by employing Sakichi Toyoda’s concept of 5 Whys. Sakici Toyoda says that in order to get to the source of the problem you will need to get to ask Why 5 times. Usually I like to use this method to define if a problem is a money problem or a people problem. 

To illustrate this better, let me give you and example so that you can understand what I am trying to tell you. Lets say your security guards keep falling asleep while on duty and the security company is not giving much help to solve your problem. Now to determine if its a money or people problem, employ the 5 whys technique. why is the security service level low? Because the guards are not doing their duty well.Why is the guard not doing their duties well? Because they keep falling asleep.Why does the guard keep falling asleep? Because he has two jobs.Why does the guard have two jobs? Because his basic salary as a guard is not enough.Why is their basic salary not enough? Because his company is not paying him well? So from here you know that the problem is money. If you pay the company well, their security guard can afford to just keep one job and have enough rest so that he can perform his night duty well. 



There are many methods you can use to solve problems. Above are just some method that i find useful and have personally used on occasions to solve some of the problems faced while serving in the building industry. 

Sources: 

The Decision Book, 50 models for Strategic Thinking, Mikael Krogerus & Roman Tschapper, W.W Norton & Company, New York London

Secrets of Power Problem Solving, Roger Dawson, Career Press, New Jersey, 2011.
The Thinker’s Toolkit, 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving, Morgan D. Jones, Three Rivers Press, New York,1998