It’s a common misconception that Facility Managers need a seat at the C-Suite table along with the COO, CEO, CFO, CIO, and the other top executives.
Quite simply you don’t. And in most organizations, you won’t.
The nature of what we do as Facility Managers, while important to your organization’s success, simply won’t warrant a C-Suite position in the majority of organizations.
So what do you do if you don’t have influence at the C-Suite board room table?
You influence those in the C-Suite or even those who influence the C-Suite.
This means knowing how politics works in your organization and where the levers of influence reside. You won’t know this unless you get your head out of the boiler room or the cubicle reconfiguration project and network internally.
It takes time and perseverance, but you if you take the time, you will be further ahead when you send a proposal or business case for a facilities project upwards for approval.
The reality is that facilities managers are actually competing with colleagues within their own organization. They are also asking for attention, for resources, for funding and for approvals. If they are better than you at influencing the C-Suite, they will get a bigger share of the resources and you will be shut out, no matter how important your needs are.
Once you figure out who matters in the organization, you need to meet with them. Always have a purpose, even if it is to ask their opinion. Doing a business case to install a Facilities Management system? Check with the finance department influencers about how their boss wants to see financial analysis. Meet the operations department influencer and outline your plan, asking if they see value in quicker response, work order tracking and on-line updates for their department. Discuss the technology with the IT department influencers and get their input on a hosted or web based system, requirements for security, etc.
If you don’t think you can get their attention, you know where they sit, so drop in on them. If they are busy, come back. Be persistent and demonstrate the value in meeting with you.
By working the internal system and influencing the influencers, you don’t need a seat at the boardroom table in the C-Suite. You will achieve your objectives anyway.