Why "thankfully" ? - because the role of an energy manager is fundamentally thankless...
- An accurate one-line job description of an energy manager is "to do more with less";
- Then if our energy manager succeeds in this first objective then their second task is by default ... "to do more with less"
- And so on until they can achieve no more.
Under these rules, fail they must, so we do need a way to differentiate a "high performance failure" from a "hopeless failure" and to reward it.
Notice that if bank managers were employed this way (maybe it would benefit society :) our bank charges and interest rates would would fall each year, bank clerks would drive smaller and smaller cars each year. After a period of a few years they would be routinely replaced, and there would be no planned career progression for a bank teller, because you can't really get much better at counting once you have the basics, and so time in service is the only "achievement".
We need another way of looking at this job of energy management...
If we said,
- "we will set you a clear set of objectives that we expect you to meet",
- "if you meet these objectives you will be receive praise" and
- "if you can show us that you can exceed them for an acceptable cost, we will fund it and provide you with the resources necessary, and possibly even a promotion to a supervisory position"
DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that energy managers are in lowly positions, some are accountable for millions of expenditure (and it's rising) and as non-core business overheads it comes straight off the bottom line.
If we set ourselves these goals, we might find ourselves employing highly motivated, professional energy managers. Remember that the task we are setting has a larger role - save energy, make us profitable, save the climate, serve our grandchildren: if we do not - they will have us to blame!
What can we expect ?
So I think the problem is not that we expect too much of energy managers, it is rather that we expect the wrong things. This motivates me to define a set of disciplines that we should reasonably expect to be managed.
Arising as part of these procedural goals there are a huge number of administrative tasks, that can be delivered effectively or not. An interesting question is to see how well our industry supports these tasks. The answer to that question will ultimately be decided by the energy managers, that buy the appropriate solutions.
So appearing below, will be a growing list of functionalities and discussions , that we believe are needed generically by energy managers to satisfy their needs and get their jobs done.(this is a rolling work, so "marker" topic links will be provided where work is in draft). Ideally this can build into a framework of solutions.
Energy managers are human too
Note that the needs of an energy manager are no different from any other employee. They have social, emotional and functional needs. From my experience these are simply:
- To know what is required of them
- To have the tools to deliver what is required effectively
- To be provided with mechanisms that their efforts are acknowledged by their peers and management
However, the role of energy manager is "new" (although gathering winter fuel has been sung about for centuries Good King Wenceslas), and it is not "core-business" for most organisations; so it is necessary for many energy managers to be self-starters. This means that they may have to take initiative as follows:
- This is what you should expect of me - to which I may be held accountable
- These are the tools I need and what they will cost - I understand how to use them effectively
- This is how you will know if I am doing a good job - It is an objective measure
In our experience very few energy managers get so far as to adequately define the first of these, this may be a problem of the employer or employee, but it exists.
As with any employee, their most valuable asset is the one that cannot be replaced - their time. So the acid test will be, "If I have to get this job done - is this the tool I would choose for the task?". In our experience there is a premium where the answer to this is yes. So whoever, can get a set of affirmative answers to these question, may enjoy a long-haul profitable business model - Disclosure: we declare ourselves in the running!