It can be hard to determine if a merger is successful, especially at the cultural level. But Don D. King, president of Donald King Consulting, says that one of the first things leaders of a merged facilities department should do is set up metrics that can be used to evaluate improvements.

“It’s important to set up some performance metrics that are common across all the organizations,” he says. “You say, ‘Let’s agree on some numbers that will help us track our progress and performance.’”

Among the metrics that a newly merged facilities department may want to track are total energy usage per square foot, maintenance cost per square foot, number of patient/family complaints about the environment, or how quickly maintenance requests are handled.

Once those metrics are in place, targets can be established and everyone in the facilities department can begin to focus on ways to meet the targets, hopefully helping to unite the team.

A dashboard containing key performance indicators (the vital few metrics that are most indicative of performance) can provide an objective basis for discussions about how things are going. Focusing on those metrics instead of practices and people often diffuses or avoids emotional responses, King explains.

In addition to performance metrics, indicators of cultural change also can be established. For example, facilities leaders can gauge employee views about workplace safety, their understanding of the organization’s mission, whether leadership listens to them and their level of confidence in leadership. King says that this kind of feedback sometimes can identify and head off conflicts that stem from poor change management and communications.

“Having a common set of metrics will also have a huge corporate benefit when leaders at that level are assessing the situation,” he adds. “Any value-added or negative impacts can be quickly and clearly made visible. These metrics also provide a means to compare performance across a large portfolio and enable internal benchmarking.”