10 Simple Things Facilities Managers Do to Get Respect

by James McDonald on May 19, 2014

Anyone can go to school to learn their profession. But being a leader is a learned skill that can only be gained in the field. Through an accumulation of experiences and a deep understanding of the knowledge gained about their organization and teammates, workplace leaders can make multiple decisions at a moment’s notice. These decisions come automatically, unconsciously and fearlessly, often relying on their “gut instinct”. Over the course of their career, true leaders have mastered the art of pattern predicting, overcoming hardships and finding the best solution under high-pressure situations.

While the top leaders’ instincts are much of what helped them rise to the top, many of their most valuable tools are learned skills. If you are looking to advance into a top facilities leadership position, here are 10 things you must learn to do habitually every day:

1. Connect with your people— A mere manager sees their teammates as numbers and titles while great facilities managers connect with them personally. Getting to know your co-workers as individuals, each with their own strengths and weaknesses separates the good from the best. No one person can build an organization 10 things facility managers must do to rise as leadersalone— the key is to recognize this and act accordingly. A truly successful leader surrounds themselves with a great team, people who lift each other up, as you all work towards the same common goal. And once goals are met, share the rewards with everyone, as this recognition provides everyone with a powerful energy to move on to the next task.

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2. Keep the eye on the prize— While it is natural instinct to focus on the daily grind, churning through the most urgent matters, a truly great FM leader keeps their focus on long-term goals at all times. While it is obviously important to ensure the short-term goals are met, those that come out on top recognize what is most important, channeling as many of their short-term goals as they can to work towards a successful big picture. Sometimes this may mean abandoning the “process” or creating a new one that better fits the big picture.

3. Gain respect through leading by example– It is human nature to want to be liked; but to a true pioneer, respect is a much more valuable tool. To be a truly great leader, you may not always be able to be likable- but if you are respected, you will always be able to convince those around you to do what they need to do to get the job done. One of the most powerful things top FM leaders can do to earn that respect is leading by example. They practice what they preach day in and day out and are mindful of their actions. After all, there is always someone sitting in the backgrounds observing. Which leads us to Number 4…

4. Never stop teaching— One of the most common complaints amongst employees is that their workspace managers stopped being teachers, hiding behind their computers with their head down. What sets a leader apart from the pack is their thirst for knowledge. This self-motivation to learn automatically puts them on the leader podium, sharing their learnings with the rest of their colleagues. After all, your colleagues are an investment into the success of your entire organization, so you want them to succeed.

5. Reward the successes of others, rather than feeling threatened by it— Actively analyzing, listening and rewarding for great work turns a simple manager into a great leader. Fear of losing their position to someone else’s success causes managers to take top performers for granted; do that, and the entire village will crumble.  “A true leader, on the other hand, takes his or her team members’ accomplishments as a point of pride,” says Bill Murphy Jr., Author of The Intelligent Entrepreneur, ” and recognizes that the mark of a great leader isn’t creating followers—but instead developing other leaders.”

6. Accept responsibility— Successful leaders never fall into the “blame game” trap. One must recognize that, regardless of how or why the team falls short, the true blame falls on them as the leader. Look for others to blame and you will lose the trust and respect you have worked so hard to earn. Hold yourself accountable and you will spur the entire team to work even harder towards your common goals.

7. Communication is key—To be a true pioneer in your field, you MUST be a great communicator. Provide the members of your team with a clear understanding of what is expected and share all of the information you have. Fear that transparency will make you lose the upper hand sets the entire team up for failure, making you a mere manager as opposed to a great leader. Perhaps even more important is to ensure your teammates are comfortable being open and honest with you. Communication is a two-way street, so your success as a leader hinges on your ability to allow others to voice their perspectives and opinions as well. Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  This candor amongst colleagues will help build trust and respect throughout the entire team, providing everyone with the knowledge they need to do their best work.

8. Making decisions—You must have the ability to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes if you want to emerge as a successful leader. Top leaders keep the momentum going at all times, shifting gears as needs arise. And rather than making your teammates come to you when a decision needs to be made, arm your colleagues with the information and tools they need to make their own decisions when appropriate. Remember, their successes are your successes too.

9. Never stop asking questions—Those that have fought their way to the top are not afraid to ask questions and seek counsel, even when they think they already have all the answers. This goes back to that deep desire for information and knowledge. Successful workspace leaders have committed to bettering themselves daily through the wisdom of those around them.

10. Enjoy your chosen profession—True pioneers are not leaders for the power, but for the impact they can make on those around them. At the end of the day, your position is about serving the needs of others- there is no way to truly do this without loving what you do. As Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

Many are under the impression that a simple title is evidence of success. True success, however, comes from increasing your company’s value while maximizing ROI. A true leader lifts up those around them, bringing out each colleagues’ strengths and talents to paint the bigger picture. While many are natural-born leaders, anyone can rise to the leading position with the right drive and commanding skills in their repertoire.


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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