I recently held a Program Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting for the Certificate in Facility Management at Ryerson University for which I am the Academic Coordinator. It is a continuing education program for people in the Facility Management industry to develop and upgrade their skills.
The PAC was formed for a program review to identify changes that should be made in the course offerings and curriculum.
Part of the meeting included a round table on the skills and training needed in FM and the skills gaps that they find in Facility Management candidates applying for jobs and even with existing employees.
The participants were all highly experienced in senior roles within the broader Facility Management sector, including from the tenant side, owner/occupier and even commercial property management as well as a design/project manager who works with FM’s constantly and a job search executive who works with both candidates and hiring managers in the Facilities industry.
I was surprised to find that they talked about soft skills almost exclusively. Technical skills were not where their concerns were. Instead, these were the most common gaps where they felt Facility Managers need to improve:
- The inability to influence others.
- Lack of skills in developing compelling business cases.
- No understanding of change management
- Lack of communication skills
- Poor ability to manage subcontractor services
- Inability to procure and properly assess bids
The only real technical related skills gap was lack of general understanding of how building systems work. This was interesting, since even with this gap, they were generally only looking for high level skills, not detailed technical knowledge a technician or engineer may have.
This mirrors my own experience when I meet with successful Facility Managers at various levels. They are successful either because of their advancement to higher positions or because they have a well-run facility organization that is, for the most part, doing all the right things.
With these successful Facility Managers, the common skills and attributes they seem to have are their business skills, which mirror the gaps my committee identified.. Some don’t even come from a technical background at all, they are simply excellent managers, leaders and bosses and provide the guidance and support necessary to the experts in their groups.
For individuals, filling the skills gap can provide career advancement. For the industry, filling these gaps will help improve the image of FM within the companies we serve.