4 Tips for Talking to Your CEO About Facilities Management

by Elizabeth Dukes on September 6, 2016

Facilities leaders must have a wide range of skills—from data analytics to budgeting to relationship building. Sometimes the last item on that list can be the most difficult, particularly when it comes to the CEO.

CEOs are responsible for high-level strategy, making vital decisions about the future of the business and ensuring the company’s activities abide by legal and ethical standards. Therefore, while they understand the importance of facility management, they may feel the day-to-day aspects are mostly irrelevant to them and better left to their FM expert (you).

This puts facilities leaders like you in a delicate situation. How can you present the issues the FM team is facing in such a way that the CEO will be willing to help resolve them? It can be challenging but it certainly isn’t impossible. Here are four tips for talking to your CEO about facilities management.

1. Be Confident and Prepared

Your CEO didn’t get where they are by being hesitant and second-guessing their decisions. From the moment you step into their office, you must represent yourself as the FM expert you are and be ready to field any questions the CEO throws your way.

If you stumble through your responses or don’t have the necessary information to back up any claims, your CEO will quickly lose patience. But if you answer their questions with conviction and provide cold, hard FM data, you’re more likely to keep their attention and succeed and getting your issues addressed.

2. Speak Their Language

Your CEO most likely doesn’t have a background in FM, and therefore facilities management-specific terms such as “integrated workforce management system,” “asset tracking” and “move management” probably aren’t in their daily vocabulary. Not only can this be annoying to the CEO, but you’ll probably end up wasting precious time defining each phrase. Instead, explain the issues using only the core elements: office space, equipment and employees.

3. Discuss Short-Term and Long-Term Impact

What do all CEOs care about? Results. Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to your CEO and focus on how these issues affect them. Are they primarily concerned about sustainability? Employee retention? Demonstrate how FM impacts the metrics most important to them.

It’s also likely he or she lives and dies by the bottom line—especially if your company has a board of directors to whom the CEO must answer. Show how your requests will improve ROI, both in the near and distant future.

Discuss impacts4. Get to the Point

The CEO is short on time. Always. Don’t make small talk and don’t give irrelevant backstory. Before your meeting, prepare an outline of the highest priority discussion topics and make sure to touch on only the most critical details. He or she will appreciate your efforts to streamline everything, including your conversation.

While talking to your CEO may seem intimidating, it’s important to remember this: Your CEO is human, just like you. Every person at your company has their own duties, objectives and preferred communication style, and your CEO is no different. When you know how to best approach a facilities management discussion with your CEO, it shows you respect and value his or her time, which can help you establish a beneficial relationship that will make future conversations easier.

Are you keeping an eye on the most important KPIs? Download the complimentary eBook, 8 Metrics Every Facility Manager Should Track, for the most accurate data to make the best decisions.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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