Connecting Facility Management With the C-suite

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on October 15, 2013

One of the most challenging aspects of the facility manager position is undertaking large-scale projects to implement new facility management solutions. No matter how competent you are individually, it’s nearly impossible to complete the job alone – the initiative requires time, money, manpower and solid communication with employees at all Connecting with the C-suite - FM's need to be up for the challenge.levels.

In these situations, it’s tremendously beneficial to have the ear of upper-level corporate executives who can help you complete your facilities management endeavors. If there’s anything you need, for example seeking funding, labor, technology, etc, having a strong relationship with those above you can really make a difference. The CEO, CFO, COO – C-anything, you name it – are valuable resources to have.

One of the most important skills you can have as a facilities manager is the ability to talk to the C-suite, engaging in back-and-forth dialogues that will benefit both you and them.

According to Benefits Pro, communication with the C-suite has a way of increasing engagement in the workplace. Jason Carney, director of human resources at WorkSmart Systems, told the news source that the worst thing employees can do is shut themselves off from higher executives at their companies out of resentment or fear.

“Any time you have the ‘us versus them’ mentality, no amount of pay or benefits will keep someone engaged and looking forward to coming to their jobs every day,” Carney said. “The more you can portray your senior executives as humans with the same issues and struggles and who are open to the ideas of everyone else, the more engaged your folks will be. Anything that can make someone get out of bed and want to go to work besides pay and benefits is huge.”

What does this mean in facilities management? A lot, actually. Having a solid relationship with the C-suite can help you in many ways. But to take full advantage of this opportunity, you have to learn the fine art of speaking with your superiors.

Be direct
Perhaps the most difficult part of opening a dialogue with a higher executive is initiating conversation. What’s your strategy for getting that first foot in the door?

If your natural inclination is to write a dense, long-winded email, you might want to rethink it. According to CareerBuilder, that approach isn’t likely to be successful.

“No senior executive is going to take the time to read one lengthy email,” behavioral analyst Beverly Flaxington said.

Instead, be direct. If you have a clear, concise point, then get right to it. Presenting your ideas quickly yet clearly is the key to grabbing the C-suite’s attention.

Fine-tune your approach
Once you’ve begun a dialogue with an executive, you should don your detective’s cap and look for clues about how to deal with the corporate leader. What’s this person’s conversational style? Is he or she interested in gossip? Idle chatter? Subjective, opinionated thinking or cold, hard facts? Find out what kind of CEO you’re dealing with, and speak to them in a thoughtful, personalized manner.

Look for real impact
At the end of the day, every C-suite executive wants their actions to have results. If you’re talking about rolling out a powerful new solution or making a sweeping change to your company’s facilities, then sell the C-suite on the impact. Talk about increasing productivity, saving money or freeing up space. If you can prove that your ideas will yield real, tangible results, that’s bound to earn the respect of any executive.

Try not to be afraid of the C-suite – remember, executives are just people. However, they are important people with busy schedules, so you don’t want to waste their time. Bring good ideas to the table and present them like a pro.


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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