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Episode 76

Corporate Moves, Change Management and Creating Great Workplace Experiences

with Javier Maldonado of VF Corporation

Javier Maldonado, MBA, CFM, RPA® is Director of Corporate Facilities at VF Corporation, the home of brands like JanSport and The North Face, where he has a passion for creating exceptional workplace experiences for the occupants of his facilities. During this conversation from 2018, Mike Petrusky asked Javier to share stories about how the company encourages employees to "live your brand" and they offered inspiration around the importance of employee engagement. Javier discussed his FM background and how a collaborative approach with other departments impacts the company’s workplace culture. Mike and Javier talked about change in the workplace and how a positive and flexible attitude can help us be successful as we lead our organizations into the future. The episode also features a new update about VF Corporation’s campus move from Alameda, CA to Denver, CO and Mike brings us up to date after a recent conversation with Javier!

Coworking Biophilia and Working Outdoors

Download the FREE “Workplace & Space Management Software” report from Verdantix: https://www.iofficecorp.com/verdantix-report-mp

Connect with Javier on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/javier-maldonado/

Download the webinar on “Designing the Workplace for the Workforce of the Future”: https://www.iofficecorp.com/webinar-download-essential-workplace-collaborations

Watch Mike’s Ted-style talk from Dublin: https://youtu.be/DudLzQoU1X0

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/

Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com

Learn more about iOFFICE’s workplace experience solutions: https://www.iOFFICECORP.com/

Read full transcript:

Mike:

Hey, I wanted to take just a minute to tell you about a new report that was released recently. It was published by Verdantix, an independent research and consulting firm, and in it, they conducted a review of the 23 most prominent space and workplace management software companies. And guess what? iOFFICE was named the leader in two categories. iOFFICE scored highest overall and highest in workplace services. Awesome, right? So if you've been thinking about workplace and space management software, and you're just not sure which option out there is right for you, I'd like to send you a free copy of the report so you can check it out for yourself. All you need to do is go to iOFFICE Corp dot com slash Verdantix dash report dash MP, that's right. MP as in DJ Mike P and I'll also leave this link in the show notes for you to make it easy. I hope it helps with your decision making process as you explore the available software tools that will help you elevate the employee experience in your organization.

Javier Maldonado:

I mean, change is ever happening in our world, right? So you got to be flexible, whether it's a good change or bad change, you have to be flexible. You have to be able to handle change by focusing on the most positive aspect of change.

Mike:

This is the workplace innovator podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate and facility management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOFFICE, the leading employee experience focused IWMS software that delivers real time data and mobile tools to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace.

            Hi everybody. And welcome to episode 76 of the workplace innovator podcast. My name is Mike, and I'm your host for this little show where we talk about the ever changing workplace and some of the challenges that come with that, of course, but we also like to focus on the opportunities we have to impact the lives of the people, occupying our facilities. And we do that by making the most of the latest workplace strategies and technologies available to us. And just last week I was in Denver, Colorado for a conference called Rock Con, and I had the chance to moderate a great panel discussion about designing the workplace for the workforce of the future.

            My friends from the Denver chapter of IFMA put this panel together and we had three unique perspectives, a designer, a facility manager, and an HR consultant, all offering their insight about how we must collaborate to meet the needs of everyone. It was really cool and we broadcast the event live via GoToWebinar. I will leave a link for you in the show notes, if you want to check that out. And being in Denver, it got me thinking about a friend of the show who lives there now, his name is Javier Maldonado and he is the director of corporate facilities and VF corporation. That's the company responsible for some awesome outdoor brands like The North Face, Timberland JanSport, Vans and so many others. Well, I wanted to catch up with Javier because the last time I saw him was when I visited the VF's West Coast headquarters campus in Alameda, California. It was a group of buildings located right alongside the San Francisco Bay and I knew they had a really cool and special corporate culture because Javier told me all about it on an episode of my previous podcast, the FM Innovator.

            So today I want to share that original conversation with you because I found it really inspirational and it's certainly still relevant, especially now as VF is moving from California to Colorado. And I want to tell you a bit more about that as well so stay tuned until the end, and I'll give you an update about all that's going on with Javier and the company's relocation to downtown Denver. These are exciting times for sure folks, so check this out.

            On the show today, calling in from Alameda, California, I'm excited to welcome Javier Maldonado. Welcome to the show, Javier.

Javier Maldonado:

Thanks Mike.

Mike:

Javier is campus operations and construction director for VF outdoor, the home of JanSport and The North Face among many other very cool brands. Hey Javier, can you get me some samples of your product?

Javier Maldonado:

You'd have to become my kid so you'd have to be family.

Mike:

I'm open to being adopted at this point, with those kinds of brands, that's exciting stuff.

Javier Maldonado:

Yeah.

Mike:

Well, Javier, you were kind enough to reach out to me after listening to this podcast. And as often happens, we started talking about the show and about the industry and about our FM stories.

Javier Maldonado:

Yeah.

Mike:

All kinds of fun conversation. And of course it led very quickly to the most crucial question of the day, which is, Star Wars or Star Trek, Javier? I'm putting you on the spot.

Javier Maldonado:

I know, I know. Star Trek, Star Trek. I love Star Wars, but I'm a Trekkie.

Mike:

Okay, well, that's going to end the interview today, thank you for being on the show and I appreciate it.

Javier Maldonado:

Oh, thank you Mike.

Mike:

No, no, no. I'm cool with that. There's a little bit of both in me as well, but I do tend to lean towards the Star Wars side heavily as anybody who's listened to this show knows.

Javier Maldonado:

Yeah.

Mike:

But here's my one quote I can share from the early Star Trek movies.

Javier Maldonado:

That's a great scene. That's a great scene that angry, snarling face of captain Kirk yelling Khan.

Mike:

Legendary.

Javier Maldonado:

Absolutely.

Mike:

That's great. How about music? Are you a fan of music?

Javier Maldonado:

I am. I like if I'm working out, then it's got to be some rapping, some Eminem, which you know, may not be PC, but I enjoy that, it's just the energy and whatnot.

Mike:

Yeah. I'd ask you to quote some Eminem lyrics, but that might get me kicked off the air.

Javier Maldonado:

That might end a few folks here.

Mike:

Well, we do like to share some inspiration with our audience on this show. How about a favorite motivational quote?

Javier Maldonado:

So I have two, one I'm not sure who the author is, but it says, what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Mike:

Interesting, okay.

Javier Maldonado:

So I think about that sometimes thinking, "Oh, I don't know if I should, or if I shouldn't." and I'm like, "You know what? Just do it, right?" What's the worst that can possibly happen. You get your hand slapped for trying something new or different then you learn from that mistake.

Mike:

Wow, I love that because I think what keeps us from really progressing in our careers and in our workplace experience, journey, whatever that looks like it's because of this change happening and the fear of not being able to keep up or failing in some way.

Javier Maldonado:

Absolutely.

Mike:

I just say, "Learn something new or try something new and every failure is a step towards success."

Javier Maldonado:

Correct.

            And the second quote, which is near and dear to me is "Show me a manager who ignores the art of praise. And I'll show you a lousy manager,"

Mike:

Right.

Javier Maldonado:

And that's from, It's Your Ship by a Navy captain, Michael Abrashoff. Good book.

Mike:

We should never hesitate to issue praise and catch people doing something good.

Javier Maldonado:

Exactly.

Mike:

I think that's the way we ought to do it.

Javier Maldonado:

You don't want to [inaudible] people a bunch, but you do want to catch them doing something good and praise them for it and give them that positive criticism and reinforcement.

Mike:

Well, let's talk about your work there at VF Outdoor. What is it that you're most passionate about?

Javier Maldonado:

Really, what really drives me, it's knowing that my team and myself, we've done everything we can to service our people. Really providing excellent customer service, which sounds kind of cheesy, but it's really true because we're really providing end user experience, right? People come to work and if they're not happy where they're at, they're not going to be productive. So if they're worrying about temperature, lights out, smells in the bathrooms, the receptionist not being nice to them, something else is occupying their mind, right? So they can't be, they can't produce great product for JanSport or The North Face. So my job, my team's job is to just service these people and really eliminate all those little distractions to the extent that we can.

Mike:

You've got a lot of experience under your belt. Do you have any tips or tricks to help people serve their customers better?

Javier Maldonado:

Yes, you have to build up what I call patience points and patience points are simply every time you do something good for your tenant or your client or your end user, you're building up these points. Things are working, they have a request, you're timely, you communicate well, and you build up this bank of points, you know as well as I do that, something bad's going to happen. HBC is going to cut out, the boiler's going to go down, there's going to be a major leak, it's going to ruin something. That's when you go to your customer or end user going and say, "I am so sorry this happened, we're going to do our best." And they'll forgive you for it because you've been so good to them. So now you've emptied out that patience points bank, and then you got to build up again that bank account. So you have to just continue doing it. So you use them and you save them and you use them just like a checking account.

Mike:

So tell me about your campus there and how many buildings, how many employees, all that type of fun stuff.

Javier Maldonado:

Oh my goodness. So it's a four building campus, 160,000 square feet on 14 acres, very close to the bay. We've got about 700 employees so it's a big campus. So we feature a cafe, its fresh foods cooked by a chef and staff. We've got a gym. We do promote the whole live your brand so we encourage people to, not force them, but encourage them to be active, to be fit to the extent that they want to. So we offer bootcamp classes and yoga and Zumba and spin classes and whatnot, all free of charge to the employees, just to sort of have something else for them to look forward to while they're here and while they're being productive.

Mike:

Really cool, wow.

Javier Maldonado:

Yeah.

Mike:

It sounds like you're doing a great job bringing in all these concepts we talk about on the show, as far as employee engagement and experience and making the campus a place that people want to come to, right?

Javier Maldonado:

Absolutely because we're not up for fee management company. We own the land, we own the buildings, it's our company, it's our people. So our job is to, partnering with HR, really is to, "What can we do to motivate people? What can we do to have really true employee engagement, where they're not just coming in like drones and doing what they have to do and then going home, but they actually enjoy being on campus." We're not trying to keep them here forever, but we just want them to be productive, to be happy while they're here, to have a good experience while they're here, because they're creating some really fantastic product. So they have to have sort of that inspiration that this is a good, healthy, fun place to work and they work hard.

Mike:

Well, when you do collaborate internally with HR, I assume IT, and other folks, do you feel like your voice is heard and you get the chance to share what you know about the occupants of the building? I believe FMs often have their finger on the pulse of the workplace.

Javier Maldonado:

No, no, absolutely. And I've heard a lot of stories where people say, "Gee, I wish we could have a seat at the table with HR and if we were more involved," but here on campus, my experience has been that we're tied at the hip. I mean, I report directly to the VP of HR, we meet with our IT partners. So it's a complete three way conversation about the end user, what's going on, how are they doing, what's the onboarding, like just the experiences, whether we do activities and how is that going to impact the world of IT? How's that going to impact facilities? How is it going to impact HR? So it's really a well-grounded team, which is, I suppose, based on what I've heard from other folks, we're very fortunate here because it's a natural thing, not a forced thing.

Mike:

Yeah, that's great. And many have expressed the challenge of breaking down those silos and it sounds like you've accomplished that so kudos to you.

Javier Maldonado:

Yeah. Yeah, it's super helpful.

Mike:

Well speaking of human beings in the workplace and our hesitation or resistance to some of these changes taking place around us, do you have any thoughts about how to help people pivot when the circumstances demand that change?

Javier Maldonado:

I mean, change is ever happening in our world, right? So you got to be flexible, whether it's a good change or bad change, you have to be flexible. You have to be able to handle change by focusing on the most positive aspect about the change and okay, "There's some bad stuff coming in, but what's the positive? Let's figure out what's the good of it" versus being all down and upset and frustrated and kind of dragging your feet. You have to just go for it, it's inevitable, right? It's going to happen. Just deal with it, get over yourself and move on. Right and here's a quote for you from star Wars, "You can't stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting"

Mike:

Episode one, Shmi, right? That was Shmi?

Javier Maldonado:

Yes, yes it was.

Mike:

A classic in the prequels, often forgotten.

Javier Maldonado:

Good movie.

Mike:

Often written off as the failure of George R. Banks. But no.

Javier Maldonado:

Oh my gosh.

Mike:

Also one of the greatest lightsaber duels of all time.

Javier Maldonado:

Right?

Mike:

The duel of the fates between Darth Maul, Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, thank you very much.

Javier Maldonado:

Drop the mic.

Mike:

Nerd alert, nerd alert and dropped the mic. Well, the great mother of Anakin Skywalker appreciates you using her quote in that one. So how do you see the role of facility managers changing in the future?

Javier Maldonado:

You can't be a subject matter expert on everything. So our jobs as FMs and in the future is to really surround yourselves with people who know more than we do on all kinds of subjects, whether it's HPC or electrical or plumbing, even networking with other FMs on what experiences have you had doing something, for instance, converting a mom's room to a more usable mom's room where currently, it's very antiseptic and moms just hate being there, but they have to be there, right? So you really do have to reach out and just call information from these people and then say, "Okay, now I've got the information, now I know which direction I need to go in."

Mike:

What have you learned from managing construction projects over the years?

Javier Maldonado:

It's a single make or break item and it's communication, regardless of the size of the project or complexity of the project. You have to have a great line of communication with the architect first of all, so you understand what is the vision? What are they interpreting? And then you have to sort of share that vision with your end users. Here's, what's coming up, here's what's going to happen. So you really need to keep your end users informed on everything that's coming up for them. Sometimes you don't have the luxury of segregating, an area to build or construct. Sometimes you have to do it while you've got people there. So you have to warn them, there's going to be noise, there's going to be a little bit of dust. We'll do our best to take care of your complaints. And then you have to communicate with finance because there are going to be some things that come up that no one foresaw that are going to be expensive.

            So if you don't communicate with finance early enough, you're going to be in trouble. You're going to be on an over budget condition but if you notify finance ahead of time and plan for that, it's okay because some things are unforeseen and that's fine, you've got contingencies for that. But if you don't communicate that information, it just does, got to keep this yourself. And then finally the senior management has to be completely informed of the big picture items, the major milestones. So they know what's upcoming, what the sort of need, what's going to happen going forward. So it's really communication. Everything else just kind of falls into place. The actual project management itself falls into place.

Mike:

Yeah, so communicating both up the chain of command, as well as to the folks who are impacted by these changes. That's what it's all about, communicating the good news, the bad news, what's expected, what didn't go as planned. That's kind of change management 101, isn't it?

Javier Maldonado:

Absolutely. Yeah, if they don't know what's going on, you can't assume that they do, so it's up to you to let them know what's going on so they can plan their work life, their workday. And then when you do have a hiccup, they're okay with a hiccup because you've communicated to them that there may be a hiccup or two.

Mike:

I know our natural tendency is to hold onto bad news and be afraid to share it, right? And this way you just get that out of the way and let people know what's going on. We're all in the same boat together and let's work through it as a team.

Javier Maldonado:

Yep, it's easier to take out the bandaid quickly and then just slowly peel it away painfully.

Mike:

That's right. Javier, so great to have you on the FM Innovator podcast.

Javier Maldonado:

Thanks Mike. Pleasure talking to you. I am a big fan, I've listened to every episode. So keep it going.

Mike:

Wow, every episode? We've got to send you a plaque or something.

Javier Maldonado:

Yeah.

Mike:

Thank you so much.

Javier Maldonado:

Thank you.

Mike:

There you have it everyone, Javier Maldonado inspiring us with his philosophy about employee experience and engagement and how his team helps deliver on the promised culture at VF Corporation. And now as the company is relocating to downtown Denver, Javier's role is really shifting. Of course, any headquarters move can be both an exciting and challenging time. But Javier tells me that since the employees will be going from that spread out campus by the Bay to now a vertical campus in a downtown city setting, there will be plenty of change management required for the overall population. Javier says, as part of this shift, his team has now adopted titles using workplace experience instead of the facility manager [Nomad Clayture 00:17:49] and that his role will now be more of a corporate real estate one, as he is creating a new department that will handle the in house leasing, construction and workplace experience at VF corporation.

            So Javier will certainly have his hands full in the coming months. In fact, his schedule was so packed, I did not get the chance to see Javier in person during my time in Denver last week, but I told him, I look forward to getting him back on the show at some point, after everyone has settled into the new headquarters. So we can get a firsthand account of all the lessons learned during the big move experience. I'm sure it will be very valuable and really interesting to you my audience, because that's what we love to do on this podcast. And I hope you'll continue to join me each and every week as we come together to encourage and inspire each other, to be a workplace innovator. Peace out.

            You've been listening to the Workplace Innovator podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information about how iOFFICE can help you create an employee centric workspace by delivering digital technology that enhances the employee experience, visit iOFFICE corp dot com.