Six Key Office Relationships All FMs Should Foster
Whether this is your first month on the job or you’ve been a part of the Facilities Management profession for twenty years, there are certain skills every great FM leader must posses when aspiring to lead their organization to the top. Recognizing you do not have all the answers, asking the right questions, and connecting with your “people” are critical to your success, as well as the company’s. The only way for any of this to work is for you to have strong communication skills. While it is important to connect with your entire workforce on some level, there are certain colleagues within the company that you should make it a priority to get to know.
The facilities department and IT take on many similar or common roles. On the surface, each is charged with the task of ensuring the employees have access to the right tools and information to perform their duties. But it goes much deeper than that. IT is responsible for protecting the company’s information-based assets, while the facilities team protects the physical assets. With technology’s role within the workplace expanding exponentially, information assets and physical assets have converged; therefore, protecting one means protecting the other, as well. Accordingly, the IT Department has the potential to be one of your biggest allies.
For instance, if your company is considering implementing an Integrated Workplace Management System or another technical tool to your organization’s arsenal, IT can guide you through the process, prepare you for any potential snafus along the way and prep you with the right questions to ask, during the process. And, since they are responsible for technical support, involving them in these processes will help set everyone up for success.
2) Human Resources
Your workforce is one of your most valued assets, so it only makes sense to take special care of them. Consider the role your HR department plays in most organizations;
- Employee recruitment
- Training and development
- Employee relations
- Handling grievances within the workforce
- Healthy and Safety
- Procedural issues and redundancies
Sounds a lot like your job description, right? The only department that should know your employees’ needs better than yours is HR. They are, in a sense, your lifelines to all employees. Everyone involved stands to benefit greatly from this solid relationship.
3) Business Unit Leaders
The Business Unit Leader’s role is to develop, communicate and implement the company’s vision, as well as assigning the roles each team member will play in achieving success. Once the organization’s goals have been defined, it is the leader’s responsibility to select, empower, mentor and retain the workforce that will prove the most successful in achieving these goals. This often means coordinating various teams and identifying what tools, policies and strategies are needed to bring the workforce together. Many of the Business Unit Leader’s tasks mirror your own, making it critical that you, as the FM, develop a sound relationship with him or her. This relationship will provide you a deeper understanding of the varying needs of your workforce and how you can accommodate the individuals that comprise the team.
The Accounting department is responsible for maintaining accurate financial records and uncovering data used to make organizational decisions. They are responsible for:
- Preparing financial statements
- Preparing accounting information and analysis that helps management in planning
Basically, all things financial run through the Accounting department. Since your facilities management role requires you to keep a close, watchful eye on the organizations budget, ensuring assets are utilized to their fullest potential, it only makes sense that you must be able to work closely with Accounting. Through a solid relationship and the proper tools, your team can manage current financials while forecasting future expenses.
Once you have gathered all the information required to make decisions, regarding investments and changes in protocol/processes, the company executives will typically have the final word. It is important you develop and maintain a trusted relationship with the C-suite - one that is built on honesty and candidness. As the facilities manager, you will, at one time or another, have to approach upper management with projects and investments that they are unfamiliar with or are out of their comfort zone. Their faith in your abilities could make or break the final decision. Keep in mind, too, that their success directly relates to yours and the teams. They are still partners in the in the overall plan, regardless of job title.
Whether you have a staff of technicians on-site or outsource this work to other companies, a sound relationship with the company’s servicing technicians is key. You want an individual or team of techs to be well versed, in regards to your existing system, and candid enough to tell you when changes need to be made, including upgrades or system replacements. In addition, your techs should be performing regular preventative maintenance to avoid problems and downtime and should regularly be voicing issues or concerns without fear of offending or being relegated to a maligned status as just a fix it guy. Equally, you want to show respect to your technicians and feel as if you can trust their recommendations and aren’t being up sold on services, hardware or software.
All members of an organization are important for its life and longevity and this list in no way lessens the importance of any individual or group. Nevertheless, there are always cornerstone and keystone positions in any business, team, and group. As an FM, you are constantly considering the overarching goals of the company and your workforce. Often this means connecting the dots to complete the job, which requires pulling resources from multiple sources. Understanding where to turn and who to task is critical in keeping the momentum in the right direction.