Kansas State University


Division of Facilities News

‘Be The Change You Want To See’

 By Thomas O’Briant, Custodial Manager, Vet Med Facilities

When asked to write an article about myself and the Vet Med Custodial crew, the task seemed daunting. However, after considering the chance to promote our efforts, I am excited to share about the many projects we have started as well as our future endeavors.

My name is Thomas O’Briant and Manhattan is my hometown. Prior to working for K-State, I spent more than twenty years as a Creative Art Director for Ballards Sporting Goods and another 8 years as Head Custodian for USD 458 in Basehor, KS. My wife and I wanted to move back to Manhattan after being away for 15 years. In December of 2017, I joined K-State’s Vet Med as an Evening Custodial Supervisor. I was promoted to Custodial Manager in spring of 2018.

There are differences between working for a USD school district and a university: while here at K-State, I have had to adjust to a more structured environment that is always evolving but, fortunately, I have a strong support staff that has helps to keep me on course.

Within Vet Med Facilities, we have made several changes over the last year. In addition to hiring some new employees, we have instituted training classes so that all Vet Med custodians sanitize and clean using the same benchmark standards. Our modified Team Cleaning concept has been very successful, and we have increased work productivity during the past few months. Last summer, Vet Med administrators requested that we change our work schedule for the evening crew. While the adjustment brought some challenges, it allowed our employees to have more time with their families. We also recently changed our chemical supplier. This should help us control our chemical usage and costs.

We are initiating new procedures including the use of expectation sheets (work zone sign offs), and restroom check sheets. We have created a “Shout Out” board for our employees who receive accolades from Vet Med clients and staff. Teamwork is another area we have worked on by encouraging employees to support each other and offer assistance if needed. Several of our employees volunteer to help and support each other, creating a better-balanced and more enjoyable workplace.

During a discussion about interacting with clients and staff members, I shared my philosophy that ‘we get back what we put into the world’. I challenge myself and my staff to extend ourselves, and be the change that we want to see in the world. Smile when meeting new people. Say ‘hi’ when passing a stranger. Open doors for everyone. Be patient when listening to others. Say “Sir’ and “Ma’am’ often and try to be as helpful as possible.

I have met many nice people within Facilities, and have observed the countless times facilities employees have solved situations that seemed unsolvable. The amount of work orders submitted daily seems virtually unmanageable, but with hard work and determination, the facilities work always seems to be completed.

I am very fortunate to have supportive administrators such as Director Allen Leikam and Facilities Associate Vice President Ryan Swanson. It is with their guidance (as well as the support from the Vet Med Administration), that we are able to create a positive Custodial Team, a clean hospital environment, and support all the efforts of our K-State Facilities Organization. I believe we are getting a little better every day. I feel lucky to have this position and the crew I get to work with on a daily basis. I look forward to the future and the growth within our Facilities organization.

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