Among people who work every day to manage space for their companies, there's a growing sentiment that unveiling new technology is the key to success. By rolling out new facilities management solutions and using them to monitor every aspect of your office building and compile accurate real-time data, you can become more efficient and make the most of the resources at your disposal.
All of that is true. Space management software and related technologies are the wave of the future in facilities management, and you'll be left behind if you're unable to adapt. But there's more to it than that - in addition to all the fancy high-tech tools, there's also a human element to consider. Set aside the computers for a moment and ask a more fundamental question - what traits do people need to be effective facilities managers?
According to The Built Environment, there are quite a few. Facilities management expert Michel Theriault asserts that leading a facilities department requires a lot of the same traits needed to lead any other business endeavor.
"The facilities management profession has come a long way, and modern management, leadership and business practices are required not only for you to service your organization well, but to also compete internally for scarce resources and demonstrate your value," Theriault wrote.
Take a moment to think about these four facilities managers skills. Do you have them? Do your employees?
As a facilities manager, you may not think of yourself as on the same level with a CEO or CFO in theory, but in practice your job is somewhat similar. You have to lead other people on a daily basis, helping them make difficult decisions. You have to make priorities and stick to them, even when your ideas are unpopular.
You also need to be able to make savvy business decisions. You're likely working under the constraints of a finite budget as a facilities manager, and you need to be creative about how to get the most bang for your buck.
You can't rely on a computer to tell you everything - if you're not an expert on the subject matter yourself, there's bound to be trouble. It's up to you to know your building backward and forward. What's the purpose of each individual room? Which departments work in which offices and why? What resources does everyone need?
The FM job usually involves a lot of collaboration with outside consultants and contractors. If you're not able to relay ideas to them clearly, you'd best learn.
A love of customer service
Every business serves external customers in some way, right? If you run a retail store, you have shoppers wandering around your building every day. If you run an office building, your employees may have clients in for business meetings from time to time. Either way, you must be willing to listen to feedback from people who visit your facilities. Consider the opinions of others and try to improve your approach.
The best facilities management departments are the ones who show a willingness to adapt to new ideas. The FM field isn't one for being reactive, only taking action when problems arise - it's best to be forward-thinking and eager to embrace the unknown.
Consider analytics, for example. The idea of taking real-time data and analyzing it to find meaningful conclusions is a novel one. The best companies are already embracing it wholeheartedly. But before you can get on board with a new trend like data analysis, you have to have an open mind to consider a tactic that isn't exactly tried and true. Similarly, constantly exploring new technologies to improve existing systems is important as a facility manager.
Are you willing to think outside the box? The best facilities managers are. By being thoughtful and demonstrating your abilities as a leader, you can go far.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance