22 Skills of Successful Facilities Managers in 2022
Facilities management is a demanding profession that requires a diverse set of skills in order to be successful. The consistent professional, interpersonal and even emotional demands that facilities managers face on a daily basis seem to fly from all directions. A good facilities manager learns to manage all of these demands while continuing to serve the changing needs of their workforce.
In today’s hybrid workplace, the pace of change has never been faster and the need to adapt has never been greater. FMs are simultaneously planning a safe return to the office, re-evaluating the use of real estate, and rethinking the employee experience at the same time.
Here are in-demand 22 skills every facilities manager needs this year and how you can develop them.
Interpersonal skills for facilities managers
To say many of us have experienced significant personal and professional challenges in the past two years is an understatement. Some employees have lost loved ones due to COVID-19. Others had to adapt to working remotely while caring for children or family members. They’ve experienced loneliness, burnout, and possibly mental health difficulties. For these reasons, empathy tops the list of interpersonal skills every facilities manager needs. Empathy is the ability to understand what another person may be thinking or feeling and demonstrate concern for them. A survey of nearly 900 US employees by global nonprofit advocacy group Catalyst found workplaces with highly empathetic leaders are more innovative, inclusive, and engaged, with lower rates of employee burnout.
A few ways to demonstrate empathy in facilities management might include:
- Listening to employees’ concerns about returning to the office and responding with a plan to help them feel safe
- Finding new opportunities to enable fully remote employees to take advantage of workplace amenities and activities
- Recognizing the different workstyles of introverts and extroverts and designing spaces to support both
Like empathy, self-awareness is a critical element of emotional intelligence (EQ). It’s the ability to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses so you can become the best version of yourself. Unfortunately, many leaders lack self-awareness because they don’t receive enough critical feedback from others. Leadership coach Kimberly Janson offers several recommendations for cultivating self-awareness, including:
- Identifying a problem and working to solve it
- Going beyond the obvious to understand why someone behaves a certain way
- Asking for feedback from others often
For facilities managers, improving self-awareness might mean conducting employee surveys to understand what aspects of your workplace design are working well and where there’s room for improvement, then inviting input from others to help you address those opportunities.
When it comes to questions about the workplace of the future, today’s facilities managers and workplace leaders face monumental pressure to have the answers, said Doug Shapiro, VP of Research and Insights at OFS, in a recent Workplace Innovator podcast.
Instead of pretending to have all the answers, the best leaders start by acknowledging what they don’t know.
“I think the great exercise that we could do that would be this exercise towards humility and dropping your own personal filter,” he said. “Spend more time thinking about what are the critical questions we need to ask, because oftentimes I think if you just search for answers, you’re missing I think the real insights.”
Curiosity goes hand-in-hand with humility. Once you acknowledge what you don’t know, you need to be willing to deep deeper and seek out insights from within and outside your organization. Listening to other industry leaders share what they’ve learned through podcasts, articles, and workplace management conferences can inspire you to find new solutions to long-standing problems. Talking with other employees and department leaders and asking questions to gain a deeper understanding can help too.
Facilities management is a dynamic profession where no two days are alike. Maintaining a level head and a “go with the flow” attitude is critical, not only to your success, but to your survival. Whether the workplace atmosphere stresses or excites you, the ability to constantly adapt to changes will give you a strong competitive advantage.
Decisiveness might seem to be in conflict with other interpersonal skills like humility and adaptability, but it doesn’t have to be. Being decisive doesn’t mean making decision spontaneously or without input from others. It means you’re able to gather all the information you need to make the most rational choice, weigh the pros and cons of potential actions and act with confidence.
Your role as a facilities manager is to completely understand the needs and potential issues that your workforce is facing, even before they know it themselves. Today, that includes anticipating needs around employee health and safety, such as social distancing, wellness checks, and contact tracing.
Persistence is the ability to “stay the course” in spite of obstacles. Within facilities management, those obstacles can seem insurmountable at times. You’re trying to create an exceptional employee experience that attracts and retains talent while optimizing resources and costs. It often means managing change, such as encouraging leaders and employees to adapt to a new office environment or new technology, and facing resistance. Persistence means getting back up after a setback and trying a new approach.
9. Strong communication
Your success as a facilities manager hinges on your ability to communicate, connect with, inspire and engage your colleagues. Identify the objectives of the people you work with, learn what motivates them and commit yourself to forging professional connections that inspire each individual to be the best at what they do. The right technology can make communication easier. Rather than sending emails employees can easily ignore, sending notifications through a workplace app at their fingertips ensures they’ll get the message.
10. Ability to empower your team
While letting go and assigning responsibilities to your teammates is not always easy, it is, perhaps, one of your most valuable assets. Build a team of diverse individuals and let them put their talents to work. Delegation shows you believe in your team’s abilities, further strengthening your team and your entire organization. Making it easy for your FM team to receive work orders, find the assets or equipment they need to repair, and mark them complete from a mobile facility management app is a good place to start.
Workspace management skills for facilities managers
11. Facility management budgeting
As a facilities manager, you play a critical role in managing costs. The ability to understand your organization’s needs, analyze current costs, and determine how to optimize your budget is essential. Because real estate is likely your company’s second-highest cost aside from payroll, software that simplifies space accounting and chargebacks can give you a better understanding of how each department impacts the budget. The sales team may be asking for more office space to accommodate growth, but when you look at their true space utilization, you might find most people are only at their desks about 50% of a typical week. A desk hoteling system that allows them to reserve space as they need it gives them flexibility while reducing costs.
12. An understanding of legal and compliance obligations
Regardless of your industry, there are federal, state and local laws that will impact every aspect of your building operations. For instance, you will likely need to comply with accounting standards that require you to keep detailed information about each asset you lease. If you manage larger industrial facilities, you will need to ensure all employees follow OSHA regulations. Depending on your location, you may also have environmental standards to follow.
13. Ability to engage the workforce
Your workforce is the driving factor behind your organization’s success. As facilities manager, your job is to be sure they’re happy and productive at work. By encouraging employee engagement at your workplace, your team members are more likely to stick around and work more efficiently while they’re there. This is especially important in today’s hybrid workplace, when you may not see every employee every day or even every week.
15. Emergency preparedness and business continuity
Emergencies are inevitable. Remaining calm in the face of adversity is the mark of a great leader. Develop a crisis plan based on potential problems. Simulate a real crisis and involve the entire team. This will not only educate employees on their roles; it will help you identify any shortcomings on your crisis plan. Business continuity is another important aspect of being prepared. If your organization or your data is affected by a natural disaster or a cybersecurity threat (such as a ransomware attack), you need a clear plan for restoring operations and recovery time objectives.
16. Project management
Your official title may not read “project manager,” but your leadership position requires you to motivate and manage your workforce, set goals and analyze results. Those results will help you identify where improvements are needed. Then, the responsibility falls on you to devise and implement new processes.
17. Analytical ability
Whether you are analyzing financial data for a budgetary meeting with the executives or configuring the office redesign, strong analytical and critical thinking skills are essential to both you and your facility’s success. You should be skilled at sorting through data, making sense of it, and presenting in a logical way to make the case for business decisions. For instance, if you are considering consolidating office space, you need to be able to forecast future space needs and demonstrate you’ll still have enough space to accommodate your growing workforce a year from now.
Successful facilities managers must be adept at networking across the entire organization, including IT, administration, HR outside executives or peers. Each of these colleagues are, in a sense, part of your team. So, put your interpersonal skills to work, and build solid relationships with your entire facility management department.
18. Operational and property management skills
As a facilities manager, you’ll become deeply involved in building operations and maintenance. While you don’t necessarily need to be a skilled mechanic, you do need a good understanding of the basics of building management. You should be able to identify electrical, plumbing, or HVAC issues, be able to accurately describe the problem and have some idea of what type of maintenance has previously taken place. Facility maintenance software that gives you a digital record of all your assets, age, and work order history makes it much easier to make informed decisions.
Professional facility management certifications through the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) will give you a solid background and help you advance your career.
19. Technology skills
Technology plays a critical role in facilities management and the employee experience. You should have a good understanding of how to use software to plan spaces and moves, manage buildings, maintenance, and service requests, and make it easy for employees to find and reserve space. You’ll need to work with your IT to ensure the technology you use is secure and well-integrated with your company’s other systems. Cloud-based software that included data hosting, maintenance, and regular updates will make it easier for you and your team.
21. Strategic mindset
Facilities managers have become valuable members of the executive team and play an important role in business strategy. To succeed in this role, you need a strong understanding of your company’s business objectives and how your team’s efforts will support them. If your company anticipates the launch of a new product line in Europe, you’ll need to plan for global expansion and determine the best way to support employees in those regions. That might mean investing in a new office building, leasing several smaller buildings, or using coworking spaces to establish a presence with plans to invest in something more permanent later.
20. Environmental stewardship and sustainability
Sustainability initiatives are becoming high priorities for companies and, by extension, facilities managers. That includes optimizing energy management, seeking alternative energy sources, using sustainable building materials, and using sensor-enabled lighting and HVAC to reduce waste.
An integrated workplace management system can help you monitor energy utilization, measure your carbon footprint, and achieve green building certifications.
22. Future orientation
The world of work is constantly changing. From agile working to interactive technology in the workplace, there’s always a new trending topic in the industry worth exploring. As a workplace leader, it is your responsibility to always be looking ahead to see what your workforce might benefit from most. You know your organization like no one else, and it’s up to you to keep them ahead of the game.
Stay on top of facilities management with iOFFICE + SpaceIQ
Just as improving these skills will help you accelerate your facilities management career, having the right technology at your fingertips makes it easier to succeed in this evolving field.
iOFFICE + SpaceIQ offer the most comprehensive suite of solutions to help today’s facilities managers optimize their real estate, physical assets, and workplace experience. That includes integrated workplace management systems, enterprise asset maintenance solutions, and employee apps designed to keep people connected and engaged.
Learn more about how we can help you build a more intelligent workplace. Schedule a live demo today.