‘The only way to change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance’ said the English Philosopher Alan Watts. Change is constant, yet often in small and largely unnoticed steps. Only when there’s a large shift do we take notice and reflect.
First-rate LinkedIn articles by fellow energy practitioners Mervyn Bowden and Julie Allen recently have touched on the changes and the possible drain of experience in the energy management sector. The question I pose is, ‘Why is the shift happening now and what could it mean for the future of energy management?’
Representing the UK EnergyClub network I hear from our members and Whitehall officials about the changing dimensions of energy management. The rollback of legislative demands, the slowdown in new energy management technologies and the retraction of complex subsidies have all served to remove the pain and with it some of the specialist needs of energy professionals.
It’s important to point out this this change was encouraged by energy professionals. The rolling back of the Carbon Reduction Commitment into the Climate Change Levy and light-touch Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme were popular.
Energy Managers need not be lighting experts, heating engineers, legislation gurus, data analysts, strategic thinkers or colleague communicators – they need to be all of them, and in varied depths.
Working as a Human Resources Consultant back in the noughties, I recall the process of job measurement, design and remuneration. One of the criteria within job sizing was Knowledge on the premise that greater knowledge justified greater job complexity and potentially better income.
However, greater knowledge would be futile without the strength of Accountability. If you’re a solitary expert hidden in the back office, your value is choked.
Energy management has for many, I’m pleased to say, moved on from the solitary cause to strategically important, but this requires a new multifarious Energy Manager. Technological expertise is superseded by influencing skills to assert their energy reduction aspirations, engage leadership and crucially affirm personal leadership and accountability.
As an energy management coach, I see the backgrounds of mentees changing from traditional engineering towards environment, project management, procurement – even HR like me. Nevertheless, this shift isn’t deskilling energy management knowledge, but boosting the ability for greater accountability. The challenge of Energy Managers today isn’t choosing the right light fitting or heating system, the challenge is around engaging the larger business, senior stakeholders and third party technology providers.
Revalued not devalued
Through boosting accountability and potentially job size the Energy Manager role is on the rise. Knowledge cannot be ignored, but is increasingly shared through collaboration with technology providers, energy service companies or consultants. The only inhibitor is personal risk aversion: will in house Energy Managers turn away from Excel to engage the Chief Executive?
First published on 15 May on Linked In.