The Real Reasons Your Facilities Manager Is Underperforming

by Elizabeth Dukes on July 26, 2016
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Is the performance of your facilities manager slipping? Are you met with frustration instead of enthusiasm each time you give them more responsibility? Have they been making a lot of mistakes lately that have you questioning their qualifications and abilities? It could be that they’ve grown lazy, or maybe they’ve become complacent and don’t feel the need to work as hard anymore. Perhaps they’re unhappy with their job and considering other employment opportunities. But more likely, there are other factors at play.

At their best, your facilities manager is one of your most powerful allies. They help control costs, set the foundation for productivity, understand your real estate requirements, act as a liaison between vendors and employees, measure risk and forecast future workplace needs. Clearly, a lot rides on their shoulders, and executives must be able to trust in their FM’s capabilities if they want to keep their sanity.

Here are the real reasons your facilities manager is underperforming, and what you can do to turn things around:

1. They Are Overwhelmed With Responsibilities

This factor is particularly relevant for facilities managers who have been in their role within your organization for a long period of time. Technology has exploded over the last decade and as a result, the position of “facilities manager” underwent radical change. What worked 10 years ago won’t work today, no matter how talented your FM.

Those who have been in their role for a while may be struggling to adapt. It’s important to consider the significance technology plays in their success, and recognize the fact that learning to use new technology requires time and support. Some facilities managers take better to tech tools than others, and while they’re learning to use the bevy of new tools at their disposal, they are simultaneously having to rewrite their strategies and perform their daily responsibilities without falter.

Furthermore, their position is still in a state of evolution as technologies continue to become more sophisticated. Facilities managers aren’t just managing space, assets and people anymore. They are becoming data scientists and driving major business decisions. Growing pains are to be expected. Part of your job is to keep your FM motivated.

2. They Lack the Resources to Effectively Do Their Job

The most prosperous organizations have three key strengths in common:

  • They embrace technology and view it as opportunity
  • They automate as many responsibilities as possible
  • They leverage data to make calculated business decisions

Collectively, these strengths enable organizations to optimize processes, become leaner and forecast future needs better than their competitors. If you aren’t investing in the proper technologies and supporting these key strengths, you are putting your facilities manager at a blatant disadvantage. There is no competing with organizations who do effectively use technology and embody these strengths—they will outpace your workforce every time.

Your best case scenario is to adopt a sophisticated Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), or any of the following softwares to help simplify routine responsibilities, enhance visibility into key areas of business and free up your facilities manager to handle the job functions that truly require a human touch:

  • Space management 
  • Move management
  • Facility management
  • Asset tracking
  • Inventory tracking
  • Visitor management
  • Mailroom management 

3. Leadership Isn’t Empowering Them

All employees want the same things: to feel valued, recognized and rewarded for their efforts. Before you blame your underperforming facilities manager for a job not well done, take a look at upper management and consider whether or not they are doing their job to empower the facilities management team and facilitate adaptation.

Ask yourself some basic questions:

  • Are they ensuring your FM’s basic needs are met?
  • Do they support necessary FM training?
  • Is your FM experiencing professional burn out, and is upper management addressing it?

If any of these questions can be answered with “no”, adjustments need to be made levels above your FM to ensure they get the support they need to operate in this vastly new technological and data-dense climate.

Ultimately, your facilities manager’s lackluster performance might be entirely the result of your organization not investing enough in their role. Today, your FM requires specific tools that help them work smarter instead of harder. They also need these tools to help them make sense of volumes of data.

The most successful facilities managers make decisions based on hard fact, but arriving at such conclusions can’t come at the cost of hours of data analysis, especially if direct competitors are arriving at the same conclusions using advanced technology in a fraction of the time. Most importantly, support your facilities manager on their journey to improvement. Provide training, recognize effort and create an environment in which they feel wholly supported in their adoption of advancing FM technology.


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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