The unique role of the Workspace Manager can easily be compared to that of the Cowboys of the Old West, out on the open range. Possibilities were endless and relationships were built on a mutual understanding of the dedication, sacrifices, and hard work required to get the job done. A cowboy’s word was one of their most valuable tools, as without trust in each other, their very lives were at stake. Just as it was out on the open range, trust is the glue that binds Facilities teams and their workforce. Trust in each other; trust that they will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
“Trust is not spoken, it is demonstrated. Trust cannot be requested, it must be earned.” -Lee Colan, Founder of The L Group
Historically, the workspace was about the individual. Each employee had their specific duties and management fit all the pieces of the puzzle together to ensure the success of a project. Technological advances, however, have brought about new, innovative methods of interacting. Executives and management have found that fostering a collaborative workplace culture builds a feeling of unity - the feeling of being a part of something bigger than us. Employees have found new life and excitement in their work, sparking a more creative workspace than ever before. Bringing it all together…is the FM.
A Supportive and Trusting Workplace Culture Begins with the Facilities Manager
As the Facilities Manager, your focus is on the functionality of the entire organization. If a process can be improved upon or your team doesn’t have the tools necessary to succeed, improvements begin with a commitment from you. Dedication not only to the project itself, but also to the people it will impact along the way. Once clear and measurable goals have been identified, it is up to you as the FM leader to communicate such goals, set boundaries, identify and assign tasks to the most suitable individual, and commit to providing the proper resources to meet the goals set forth. Take the time to educate your workforce so they are equipped to handle any issues that might come about along the way. By taking this time, you develop relationships based on a mutual and shared understanding, thus building trust.
Part of your commitment as the Facilities Leader lies in understanding the people you serve. Regardless of the size of the project, the impact will likely be felt company wide. Strive to understand those impacts and prepare to be met with resistance. Acknowledge differences in opinion, offer support to your crew, and encourage opinions to be voiced constructively. By offering support and listening, you will not only build trust amongst your workforce, a new idea might come to fruition that might otherwise have stayed stifled. How do you know you have the trust of your team and, more importantly, how do you ensure such faith in the future?
Inc.com suggests this simple “trust test” in gauging how trustworthy you are viewed by your team:
- Do you work to serve the team’s best interests? As the leader, your role is to make decisions based on the best interests of the entire organization.
- How well do you communicate regarding goals, both the company’s and the individual’s, and how good are you at conveying all the information they need to succeed? Successful leaders must have faith in their teams, never underestimating their abilities.
- Do you keep your commitments? As the leader, it is important to choose your words wisely, as even the most casual of conversations can be viewed as an obligation.
How, exactly, does your Facilities team build that trust into something real - something that binds the entire workforce together in meeting the organization’s mission and vision for the future? The most successful facilities leaders possess strong leadership skills, beginning with communication, and recognizing that communication is a two-way street.
What can you do as a leader to ensure you are a trusted leader?
- Develop a culture of transparency and open book management. HubSpot leader and CEO, Brian Halligan, encourages transparency on every level. HubSpot has literally torn down the walls in every sense, offering a wide open floor plan that supports constant interaction spanning the entire workforce. They have developed an open workplace culture in which no question goes unanswered and all sensitive information is shared with employees. This leadership style provides each worker the information they need to perform their job, giving everyone a stake in both successes and failures.
- Share your story. By sharing your own relevant stories of hardship, failure, success, and achievement you show the “real” you, providing your team valuable insight and appreciation into your character.
- Celebrate the individual. Part of being a great leader is understanding your team and their individual strengths and weaknesses (as well as your own). By highlighting individual strengths and celebrating lesson-learning mistakes, you show your human side and prove the workforce has your support. “Authenticity is the shortest path to trust and the surest way to keep it.” -Kevin Daum, Inc.com
- Share the company’s vision for the future, tempered with realistic expectations. By keeping your team apprised of the company’s current status, as well as short and long-term goals, you minimize fear and spark excitement about what lies ahead.
- Empower your people by trusting in their abilities. By trusting in your employees and giving them the authority to make their own choices, you empower them in their quest for success.
The success of many FMs today relies heavily on the tools and resources made available to both them and their workforce. A healthy workplace culture, mobile support, and streamlined processes through FM software are all critical tools the modern day Facilities Manager must provide. Trust is the glue that binds all of these tools together, supporting each individual on their quest for success. A trusted team delivers the best service, is more open to change, is committed to success at an organizational level, and is more open to share honest feedback, thus strengthening the entire workforce.