Getting the Herd to Move in the Same Direction

by Elizabeth Dukes on July 1, 2014

Facilities managers are in a position of influence and leadership. Your organization looks to you to come up with innovative ideas that will help set your company apart from the competition. The resources at our disposal today are endless and you are tasked with the job of sifting through these opportunities and discovering which ones will create a stronger, more productive workforce. Change is never easy and perhaps one of the most difficult parts to this process is getting everyone on board with these innovations and working together to rise to the top. Much like the 19th century cowboy, you must also devise a plan to get your herd moving in the same direction, down the path you have paved.

Do You Have The Right Team Onboard?

There has been a major shift in the workspace environment today. Previously, everyone came to work and fulfilled their individual professional obligations, with little overlap to other departments or individuals. Welcome to the shared information age. Companies are now recognizing the value of a collaborative team iOffice can help get your FM herd to move in the same directioneffort. New ideas are born every day and team members feed off each other. But, this collaboration is only as strong as the team itself. Everyone from the CEO to HR and FMs must commit to building a solid workforce, comprised of individuals who are excited about what they do and how they can contribute to the evolution of the business.

Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation states “A department, or company, that works well together, has the most success together. When you enjoy working with your colleagues and look forward to interacting with them, everyone benefits. Morale is high, which leads to better productivity, which leads to better results.” So, if your team is not comprised of individuals dedicated to your organization, the morale of the entire team will be affected. Sometimes being a productive FM means recognizing “who”, rather than “what” isn’t working and making changes accordingly. For some great tips regarding how to handle such a situation, check out our blog A Great Workplace Leader Knows When (and How) to Let Someone Go.

Empower Your People Through Communication

Being a strong facilities management leader means recognizing you do not have all the answers. It also means leading by example. Remember that your employees are your customers and that keeping them happy makes for a happy household. When determining what changes would help further your organization on a whole, seek out input. Keep in mind that they will likely be most impacted, so listening to and considering their suggestions is mutually beneficial.

There is an art to communication and this is important to remember, when inviting your team to share their thoughts and ideas. Aside from expressing your goals, you must also be sure you are inviting them into an atmosphere in which they truly feel “safe” when brainstorming or when asked to be honest about various facets of the organization. Get involved in the conversations and make sure your employees are aware there are no “dumb” questions, no “wrong” answers and that no idea is too outlandish. It may be an overused cliche, but “thinking outside the box” has proven its worth in vaulting ideas and organizations to greater successes. This freedom of communication allows employees to freely tap into their abstract thoughts, which is when the creative juices really start flowing. Lead the discussion and keep it positive and uplifting.

It is also important to remember that, if you are seeking out support and input on new solutions and procedures, then you are also ferreting out problems in your organization. It is a common mistake for managers to attack their workforce, rather than attacking the issue at hand. “Why haven’t you gotten this paperwork done yet?” Remember, you need your employees to be part of the solution, which means you need them on your side. So, rather than approaching them in an attacking manner, go to them with the issue at hand and ask them to help you find a solution. “I need your help on something.  We are missing some of the important customer details needed to keep good records.  Could you give me your thoughts on what we can do to make sure the customer is never let down in our process?” People want to be part of the solution, not the scapegoat for the problem.

Empower Your People

One very important trait every great leader must possess is the art of delegation. You and your team have come up with several projects to improve the quality of your organization. Now you must put those plans in action. It is natural for most of us to fall into the trap of just doing everything ourselves. But, by delegating responsibility to those around you, you empower you team. You prove to them you have confidence in them to do the job and do it well. Additionally, you show your human side, in a sense admitting you recognize you do not have all the answers. You have, after all, built this power team—now give them the opportunity to show what they can do.

This is a very unique time in our history, as the workforce is comprised of four very different generations of individuals. This puts us in a unique position, as we must ensure each generation has the space and tools they need to not only work individually, but also as a team. Each generation brings a distinct set of perspectives to the table, making the possibilities endless. But, it is your job to understand the dynamics of your specific organization and what it is that makes each of those tick. Whether you are implementing new software solutions or an office re-design, it will all be for naught if you haven’t considered what it is that inspires these individuals. Work with them and ensure they know their opinion matters and they will work for you.


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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