The role of a Facility Manager has been transforming yet it still has a long way to go.
As an important yet somewhat invisible function of most organizations, the Facility Manager has a significant impact on their organization’s success and financial results. Yet often, the role of the Facilities Manager is seen as being just a simple tactical or technical function, no more important than mail or repographics.
Real Estate is Important
The reality is that for most organizations, real estate is the second highest expense after human resources. And if they own their facilities, real estate is a valuable asset.
In addition, the Facilities Manager has an impact on the productivity of the organization’s most important asset, their employees.
So why is Facility Management not recognized for its contribution in the organization? Quite simply because most Facility Managers perpetuate the myth that we are just background, a necessary but non-critical function, by efficiently and effectively doing their job.
Facility Managers need to do more. They need to be leaders in their organization related to real estate and facility issues, both downward to our staff, sideways to our colleagues within the organization and upwards to senior management.
Sitting in between a company’s largest physical asset and their largest human resources asset, Facilities Managers can and should go beyond the ‘Manage’ label in the title and provide leadership within the organization.
It’s about More than just managing assets
This means doing more than just managing the facility efficiently. It means understanding the link between what they do and the corporate goals, productivity and other key drivers. And it means getting involved and advocating for new approaches when it comes to real estate and facilities. It may even mean encroaching on what is traditionally seen as someone else’s job.
For instance, instead of assuming that HR knows what is best for employees, take the leadership role and sell changes in the facility that improve productivity or employee satisfaction. Take the initiative to learn more about the impact of the workplace on worker productivity. Find out the latest space allocation and layout approaches used by leading companies. Learn what facilities related amenities are available at leading organizations that contribute to recruitment and retention. Then share these with your HR department using examples, data and evidence. They may not have considered these changes or they themselves are resistant to them.
Learn more about the issues around space use and productivity. Then advocate change and improvement. Do this with solid evidence and analysis and develop a business case for change that benefits your company.
Likewise, instead of assuming that the Security department, risk management department, environmental department or others should be solely responsible for those areas, take the initiative to understand how your responsibilities and the facilities you manage impact and interact with those areas. Learn more about them. Then, like above, develop initiatives, hopefully in collaboration with other departments, and advocate for changes or improvements that relate to your responsibilities but impact those areas.
Go beyond what you know and learn about what you don’t know by networking with other Facilities professionals, attending conferences, reading FM magazines and more. Expand you level of knowledge of trends and upcoming issues in your companies marketplace and in the overall industry and keep an open mind. This takes time, but it is necessary to provide leadership in Facilities Management.
In addition, develop your organization into the professional operation it should be. Train and re-train your staff. Implement quality assurance, performance management and procedures. Get the systems and resources you need to manage the asset and the space efficiently. After all, other departments do these things, do why don’t you?
Then, with information, you get from a well-run organization and industry software, you can provide leadership upwards based on your new knowledge and with the data and evidence to back it up.
You Need To Drive It Upwards
Don’t wait for someone to ask you to react to changes or initiatives. Be aware of the issues and the marketplace and be proactive. Make recommendations upwards to management and sideways to other departments.
Start small with things that are easy to implement or easy to change. Based on your success with those, you will gain credibility so when you propose bolder changes, you are more likely to be met with approval than rejection.
Do it with confidence, knowledge, facts and figures. Learn how to influence when you communicate or deliver presentations. Fully understand the issues and demonstrate to your organization that you are not just operating on a tactical level, you are providing leadership that positively impacts the two top assets in your organization, their people and their facilities.
Be A Leader, not just a Manager
As a Facility Manager, you aren’t just a manager, you need to be a leader as well. By being a leader, you will drive improved results for your organization, contribute to the growth and development of the profession and improve your career.