Want to Be a Better Facilities Manager? Embrace these two things.

by Elizabeth Dukes on June 2, 2015

The modern day Facilities Manager’s duties are vast and wide-reaching. Along with ensuring the logistics of the business’ day-to-day activities are consistently and productively managed, it is also your job to lead the entire workforce towards positive growth. The most critical factor affecting said growth, as well as your ability to lead, is change. Your strength in leadership hinges on your ability to embrace, manage, and lead change. Your ability to effectively manage change defines how your workforce reacts to it will generate trust and stronger processes, proving you have what it takes to generate organizational success. While it often comes as an unwelcome activity, you do have the ability to control how your workforce responds. This begins with you and your willingness to understand the dynamics behind the process.

“Agility, innovation, disruption, fluidity, decisiveness, commitment, and above all else, a bias toward action will lead to the creation of change. It is the implementation of change which results in evolving, growing and thriving companies.” -Mike Myatt

Understanding the Life Cycle of ChangeEmbrace change and process to become a better facilities manager

To effectively integrate change as a core business discipline, you must fully understand the process in its entirety. The life cycle of change can be summed up in three simple steps.

1) Recognizing the Need for Change

Without innovation and change, the facility you manage will become stagnant and lose relevancy within its industry, as your competition climbs its way to the top. It is not enough, however, to evoke change just for the sake of it. It takes a clear understanding of where you are going and where you have been, to fully understand what you must do to get there. Focus your energies on the following:

  • What do we need to do to better serve our current customers and their ever-evolving needs?
  • How can we successfully attract new customers?
  • How can we better serve our workforce?
  • How can we improve on the current company culture so that our employees’ creative side is nurtured?
  • Are we doing enough to attract and retain top talent?
  • How effective and welcomed is the current workplace culture and what can we do to improve it?
  • Do our employees have the tools necessary to be successful?
  • Do we have buy-in from Senior Management regarding potential changes? This is critical to the success of every process.
  • Are we doing enough for the company to gain an advantage over the competition?
  • Do the changes we’re considering add significant value to the company and return on investment?
  • Consider the usability and ease of use of any new processes or new tools being implemented. If it is difficult and time-consuming, you will never gain the support of your workforce.
  • Make sure your change is measurable through metrics, benchmarks, and deadlines.

2) Leading the Change

To be a true and effective leader for innovation, you must develop a strategy that appeals to every member of your workforce. To accomplish such a feat, you must understand the varying personalities and what appeals to their inner innovator. There are four distinctive responses to change:

  • The Critic- The Critic is resistant to all change, regardless of the size or how it will affect them. They will often be lurking in the corner, waiting for the right opportunity to derail the project. For change to be successful, you must identify and appeal to The Critic early on.
  • The Victim- The Victim views any and all change as a personal attack on their professional work style, their role within the company, and their persona. They consider every aspect of how these new procedures will affect them, both indirectly and directly.
  • The Bystander- The Bystander remains neutral, neither for or against change. They remain under the radar by going with the flow and keeping their opinions to themselves.
  • The Navigator- Otherwise known as The Advocate, The Navigator embraces and champions change. Since The Navigator stands to be your greatest ally throughout the process, it is critical that you identify these employees early on.

Once you have identified which employees comprise each category, get to know them. An understanding as to what messaging best inspires them is a very powerful tool. A breakdown in communication is often the cause of resistance. Involve and communicate with your workforce both on an individual level and as a group from the beginning of the process, and you will likely find yourself with more allies than you ever expected. There are a few strategies you can implement as the Facilities Manager to ensure employee resistance to kept to a minimum:

  • Communicate the company’s vision behind the change early on, allowing employees ample time to get used to the idea and ask questions.
  • Communication is a two-way street – ask questions of your team to determine concerns and reactions to the new changes being implemented. The benefits are twofold: you build trust by showing their opinions matter; and their responses will offer insight into how you might need to amend your plan of action for optimal value.
  • Clearly communicate to the workforce how the new processes will further their professional development.

3) Managing the Change

In order to lead the change, you must have the ability to manage the process as well. There are four key actions that you and your team must execute for successful management.

  • Build a solid partnership of key players- Key players must understand and be on board with the company’s vision or they will prove a detriment to the process. Align yourself with those that share your excitement and support your vision. Be sure your coalition includes members spanning the entire workforce, as this will establish credibility and build enthusiasm and trust.
  • Accountability and a sense of urgency- Responsibility means holding yourself and everyone around you accountable; and this must be present for objectives to be met. Make sure your team understands the value of the change and the implications if not implemented.
  • Empower your workforce- As their leader and Facility Manager, you’re expected to ensure your teammates have the proper tools, resources, knowledge, and support. If they do not have proper authority, your key agents do not have what it takes to get the project off the ground, much less completed successfully.
  • Train- One of the most critical aspects of implementing any change or new process is training. If the employees do not understand the logistics behind a new process or tool, the change will never get off the ground. You will also lose trust amongst staff, as they will feel as though they have been set up for failure.

Today’s business environment is highly competitive, with only so much room at the top. It is not enough anymore to simply keep up with the times; companies seeking long-term success must be leaders in innovation. This means embracing change, understanding what drives people, and having the ability to effectively communicate, regardless of the personality or obstacles placed in front of you. Follow these steps and you will have built the foundation to successfully plan, launch, manage, and lead a campaign for change within your organization.


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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