Facilities Management is a diverse and demanding field. You encounter a wide variety of challenges every day, each requiring a unique skillset – so today, I’m looking at 4 skills you can further develop in order to become a more effective facility manager.
1) Hone your Communication Skills
Improving your communication skills is a great way to do your job more effectively.
The most important communication skill you can develop is clarity: making sure you are easily understood, and communicating in an appropriate way. For example, if you’re scheduling an upgrade to the company’s IT network which will result in some network downtime, you would need to provide advance notice in a way that everyone would engage with – an all-staff email bulletin, for example, rather than a poster in the lobby.
At the end of the day, facility management isn’t about maintenance schedules or cost-cutting. It’s about building relationships – with your boss, your coworkers, your suppliers and the team you manage.
2) Know What Needs Doing, When
The most effective facility managers may seem like they have a crystal ball that allows them to look into the future and identify jobs that need doing before they become a problem. They’re not actually psychic; they’re just organized.
In any facilities management role you will have jobs that need doing regularly – every week or month. But there will also be jobs that need doing very infrequently – once a year, once every five years, maybe even less often. One of the best ways to stay ahead of the game is to work out when those jobs were last done, and make a conservative estimate as to when they will next need doing. For example, when was the last order of office furniture made? What about the one before that?
Bulk furniture orders will often coincide with office renovation projects. If you identify that big furniture orders are being made every 6-7 years, start planning and costing things up after five and a half years. This will provide you with a great starting point when your boss announces a ‘surprise’ renovation project the following year – because you’ll have seen it coming.
The best way to get organized is to learn your history. Many companies operate on fairly regular cycles, which will help you work out what needs doing, before you’re told about it.
3) Learn How to Manage the Money
When handling large facilities budgets, and making big purchases, it’s easy to get carried away – particularly in the first few months of a new budget period – and overspend by a little each time. You’ll find yourself managing big budgets, but treating the company facilities budget like it’s your own money will change how you approach the purchasing process.
Being able to save the company money, without compromising on the quality of your purchase, will be very well-received by your employer. When planning and costing your next project, plan to come in under-budget, rather than on-budget. This will mean that if anything overruns or costs more than anticipated, you have a buffer that you can overspend by, without going over budget.
Mastering money management is a key skill for more effective facilities management.
4) Be Tech-Savvy
With technology playing an ever-growing role in our working lives, keeping up with the latest trends in office technology will be extremely valuable. Everything from room reservations to maintenance programs can be managed on the computer now, and it may be that a lot of your recurring tasks can be automated or scheduled with the right computer tools, saving you a lot of time and manual effort, and freeing you up to work on more important jobs.
You don’t need to become a software engineer overnight, but having a broad understanding of workplace technological trends, and how they are changing over time, will help you to help your organization react to changing technological demands and keep up with its competitors.
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