Facility management responsibilities include a diverse field of skills that asks a lot of those who work in it. The professional, interpersonal, and even emotional demands that FMs face every day are significant, and they can seem to come from all directions.
So, we thought we’d reflect on the strengths and skills that are most in-demand in the modern FM marketplace. They’re the Top Ten Attitudes & Aptitudes that’ll empower you to take on each day’s facilities management responsibilities like a champ.
Most FMs aren’t economists, mathematicians, or CPAs. But budgeting and financial planning are nevertheless important parts of the job. You need to know key facility management metrics and how to calculate them. The more financial insight you have, the more effectively you'll be able to handle your facility management responsibilities.
But even if you were never a “mathlete” in school, you can learn the skills you need to understand high-level business budgeting. Critical thinking goes a long way. In addition to numerical know-how, employers look for someone with an analytical approach, a commitment to getting (and improving) results, and good old-fashioned business sense.
As a workplace leader, you're going to be tasked with not only determining the ideal work environment for your workforce, but implementing those strategies. While this typically varies from company to company, a few things that reign true for all employee wish lists are proper lighting, effective workplace technology and the option to choose from various agile working options.
Your organization's individual workplace experience will vary depending on the type of work your workforce is doing, and your overall mission and building's physical limitations. It is up to you to be routinely asking your workforce for what they want, and adopting the ideas that make the most sense. This process is never really complete, and your workforce's needs are continually changing, your workplace should reflect that as well.
As an FM, you probably know a lot of about the facility management field. But what about your company’s industry? Are you an expert in their universe as well as your own?
Let’s say you’re the FM for the second-busiest hospital in your city. Sure, you know the building and how to run it, but how much do you know about healthcare? You don’t need an M.D., but understanding how the medical industry operates will enable you to diagnose (pun intended) your facility’s problems. Armed with an insider’s insight, you’ll be better poised to take your hospital to #1.
You also need to know your own company’s specific vision, values, and goals. How do they fit into the larger, industry-wide picture? How do they differentiate themselves? What objectives are they targeting within their market? Employers need a facilities manager who can help guide them along a strategically charted, goal-oriented path.
A lot of leadership is intuitive, but good instincts can be learned. Are you generally easygoing, or are you naturally “on edge”? Either personality type can serve you well in different situations, but flexibility is an especially valuable trait for FMs.
Ours is a dynamic profession. Every day is different, and problems pop up without warning and new facilities management responsibilities emerge as a result. If that kind of environment excites you, you’re already two steps ahead. But if uncertainty is a stressor, it doesn’t mean you can’t be the best of the best among FMs. It’s never too late to learn to take a deep breath and recalibrate your approach to the unknown.
Part of going with the flow means keeping calm in an emergency. If you’ve never faced a true emergency, you might not know how you’d naturally respond. Some people panic; others become instinctively solution-oriented and level-headed. As a general rule, “cool and collected” is the most effective approach to even the direst emergency. Planning is part of that. If you already know exactly how to react when an urgency arises, you won’t be caught off-guard. So be prepared!
Facility managers often double as project managers. Or maybe you work alongside a designated PM. Whatever the task at hand may be, yours is a position of leadership. You’ll need to set goals, motivate your workforce, monitor performance, and measure results.
While there’s no real substitute for experience, even a newcomer to project management can learn a lot about leadership by taking a seminar or reading a book. It helps to have project management software you can rely on too, and that brings us to #4...
FMs may not need a background as software engineers, but the reality is that today’s FM world is more technology-reliant than ever. The more quickly you embrace that, the more valuable you’ll be in your field. Everything from room reservation to asset management and facility maintenance is managed online (and, increasingly, on smartphones and tablets). IT plays an invaluable role in the way FMs communicate with their workforce, customers, and coworkers as well.
Your employer will look to you as the expert in facility management software. They likely don’t have time to educate themselves on the latest developments, so they’ll depend on you to keep the facility on solid technological ground. That’s why you’ll want to keep yourself apprised of the latest trends in FM software development. Make sure your IT platforms are situated to solve problems and eliminate waste.
Your goal as a facilities manager is ultimately to improve the employee experience by perfecting the workplace experience. One component of an effective work environment is technology that makes the work day run more efficiently. From intelligent wayfinding tools to visitor management, cloud-based workplace technology helps your employees interact with their space from wherever they are.
The type of workplace technology necessary for your workforce will depend on your goals. Do you want your employees to be able to book conference rooms on their way to work, or do they really need a mobile app that can help them submit work order requests when the lightbulb in the conference room is out again? There are so many factors that go into selecting an effective workplace management system, and as a facilities manager, it's your job to determine what your workforce needs and help find a provider. The modern workforce expects to interact with their environment like they do in their personal lives: seamlessly. Keep that mindset when doing your research, and you're sure to find an IWMS that everyone loves to use.
While implementing the best workplace technology for your organization is important, being able to extract data from that technology and use it to better predict and plan for your workplace's future is one of the most important benefits, for your role specifically!
The right workplace technology can tell you whether or not you have enough space, when you might run out or what type of space you have too much of. It can tell you how often the conference rooms are being use, whether the bathrooms need to be serviced, and the projected growth at your organization's current hiring rate. The right workplace data can give you insight to your building like never before, and will make maintaining and preparing your workplace for the future more accurate and achievable. Understanding the heightened responsibilities that come from utilizing the right workplace technology is a skill that most organizations need or will in the very near future.
At the end of the day, facilities management responsibilities all relate to the people you serve. Your ability to connect with, engage, and inspire the others around you will make the most determinative difference in your performance as an FM. The good news is that people skills are among the most easily acquired traits on this list. Much of it comes down to your own perspective.
Respect is the cornerstone of every productive working relationship. Communication matters, too. Don’t just convey information; make sure your meaning is understood (and, in turn, make sure you understand others as well). Identify the objectives of the people you work with, learn what motivates them, and commit yourself to forging a professional connection that inspires each party to bring out their very best.
You’re a leader in a “people profession.” What could be more exciting than that? Make it your goal to be the best FM you can be. Using our list as a guide, seek out the skills that will benefit you the most and commit to making this year the most successful one yet... not only for you but also for all the people you serve!
Interested in learning more about what employers are looking for in a facilities leader and what important metrics you need to measure?
Check out the updated version of our most popular guide, 8 New Facility Management Metrics You Need to Know.
Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.