Relationship Building Supports Innovation at the Company Level and Beyond

by Elizabeth Dukes on February 17, 2015

As Facilities Managers lead their companies in managing and overcoming everyday obstacles and change, innovation is no longer just desirable, but rather critical, for success. Expected to be the jack of all trades, an FMs creativity in developing innovative solutions has become a valued requirement for those in the FM field, with many companies citing “lack of innovation as the reason for changing the providers of their facilities services.”

 Even FMs need to innovate to deliver solutions to customers.

“Radical change delivered through original thought and creative innovation is the key to enhanced performance.” – Tim Oldman, founder and CEO of Leesman

The need for innovation and change begins at the most basic level, the customers, and spreads to every position in the organization. Companies that don’t consistently deliver innovative solutions for their customers will find themselves scrambling to survive. At the center of it all, is the ability to build solid relationships at every level. Leaders in innovation deliver what the client needs, before they know they need it. This means getting to know and understand the client and using that information to deliver positive, proactive results. The Facilities Manager is in a unique position, as their client list spans from company executives and managers to the workforce and company customers. The ability to look, listen and maintain focus on results is crucial for meeting organizational goals. “Real success, the kind that exists on multiple levels, is impossible without building great relationships. Real success is impossible unless you treat other people with kindness, regard, and respect.” Those that support and live by this theory continue to evolve, identifying innovative solutions to support the everyday practices of those they serve, both in the workplace and beyond.

What Defines a Good Relationship?

Solid, healthy work relationships support all individuals in our professional circle, offering everyone the support, with just the right amount of freedom needed, to develop creative solutions. Key partners, technicians, vendors, and clients all play pivotal roles in the overall success of the company. There are multiple characteristics that define healthy professional connections.

  • Trust- Trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship, both personal and professional. Once a bond of trust is established, your team is able to communicate and collaborate effectively towards reaching common goals.
  • Respect- Mutual respect is a result of trust and solidifies the connection. When you respect your colleagues, you value their ideas, and vice versa, which allows everyone to work collectivity in developing collaborative and innovative concepts, based on a diverse range of values.
  • Accepting Responsibility- Accepting responsibility for your actions builds mutual respect and trust, further solidifying the relationship.
  • Embrace Diversity- As the FM, it is important to not only accept, but embrace the diverse opinions of those you serve. Your workforce, as well as the company’s clients, comes from very disparate cultures, all of which play a part in the overall success of the organization.
  • Communication- A FM’s success is largely centered around the ability to openly and effectively communicate at every level. The more adept you are at this skill, the richer your relationships will be and the more adept you will become at anticipating your client’s needs.

Getting Together for the Roundup Builds Solid Relationships

Today's FMs are much like the cowboys of the Old West.Much like the cowboys of the Old West, the strength of the relationships the FM builds help define the workplace culture. By exhibiting the qualities and traits you value, others will tend to follow the examples you set. Be upfront with your desires for the culture of the organization, too. Sometimes it is simply asking for or demonstrating how, which solves the biggest problems.

  • Develop your people skills- As the Facilities Leader, you will come in contact with a very diverse group of individuals. To make connections, at every level, you must have strong people skills, such as communication, conflict resolution and collaboration.’s quiz How Good Are Your People Skills? is a great tool to help you identify your existing strengths as well as which people skills you might need to improve upon.
  • Value the connections you make- Management often makes the mistake of assuming they have all the answers; but we are living in very complex times in which every opinion should be considered. Find the strengths in the relationships you build and value both the messenger and their messages. Doing so will allow you to read a broader audience in the end.
  • Give more than you receive- Positive relationships are mutually beneficial. It is human nature to want to connect with those who have something to offer; but those who are most adept at building solid, lasting relationships go into the experience thinking about what they have to offer.
  • Turn mistakes into positives- There are always going to be mistakes made and challenges faced. The true test lies in how one handles such experiences. Owning up to your mistakes, helping others overcome the obstacles they face, and learning from these experiences is what fortifies relationships and separates the leaders from the rest.
  • Actions speak louder than words- It’s easy to SAY you care about your colleagues, but it’s another thing entirely to SHOW you care. Put your money where your mouth is and take time out of your day to acknowledge those around you and their efforts. As the old adage says “a little bit goes a long way.”
  • Answer the unspoken questions- As the Facilities Manager, you are often expected to have all the answers. You are, after all, running the show and the real value of your position lies in your answers. But, sometimes a better answer comes from a thoughtful question. It’s important to remember that behind many simple questions lie an even larger, unasked question.
  • Help, without being asked- Another valuable aspect of the FMs position is freedom to move around to different divisions, office spaces or management teams to check progress and answer more questions. And, when you are following up, be mindful of areas which may need your help, but aren’t as visible to the rest of your team. Offering up help freely and openly helps build trust and respect in your team and also shows your desire to do the job right, no matter the means and ways.

BBC News reported that “the average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index of leading US companies has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today.” Such numbers indicate that businesses must, now more than ever, develop innovative strategies garnered from honest and open communication between all parties. There must be a direct correlation between innovation and success, through listening to our customers and challenging our colleagues, pushing for continuous growth and improvement and ourselves.


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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