The demands of the FM job are intense, the stakes high and the credit often elusive. FM professionals go about their business solving problems and keeping their organizations running in the background. On top of that, a functional working environment is taken for granted, so their efforts to keep it that way, including the skills and complexities it requires, aren’t usually noticed or recognized as an important part of the organization, usually just as a cost centre.
Facilities represent a large part of any organization’s assets and expenses, yet don’t typically receive the attention other parts of the organization receive. Having a professional facility management resource to provide strategic direction and stewardship is critical to getting results, lowering costs and minimizing risk.
In fact, facilities can represent up to 32% of the organization’s cost base and 85% or more of the total cost of ownership of a typical facility over its life. Having a professional facility management resource to provide strategic direction and stewardship is critical to getting results, lowering costs and minimizing risk. With increasing awareness of the importance, costs, risks and opportunities inherent in owning or leasing facilities, including increasingly complex legislative and sustainability issues, it’s gradually shifting from simply being a job description to being a strategically important professional role.
Unfortunately, Facility Managers are usually not focused on promoting what they do and why their work is so important to their organization’s financial bottom line. The profession is arguably growing in status, as is indicated by the increasing number of industry designations and college and university programs with a focus on FM. Still, key perceptions of the role remain focused on a building operator at work in the back room or an office administrator organizing moves; a perception that ignores the critical, and increasingly strategic, nature of the modern facility manager’s role.
FM issues are often not heard or identified until there is a problem, meaning you and the value you provide are largely invisible and essentially taken for granted. That problem is also that the demands of the role leave most facility managers feeling as if they are on a treadmill and don’t have time for planning and communication. This is evident when they aren’t able to properly prepare their message and arguments to influence others. By failing to educate other senior managers and colleague about professional FM roles and responsibilities, facility managers devalue their own work and forego important opportunities to promote FM interests.
FM professionals need to strategically remind their organizations of the impact of what you do and why it matters. As organizations develop an increased awareness of the costs, risks and opportunities inherent in owning or leasing facilities, FM professionals have an unequalled opportunity to shift their job descriptions every time they demonstrate their ability to deliver a strategically-important solution to one of the organization’s problems. Help the organization, particularly the executives or influencers, make the connection.
By pushing your role past tactical issues, FM mangers can move from caretakers to influencers. Again, success is contingent on communicating strategic plans that clarify your value to the organization. This is not just about what you can do, but what you say and prove you can do.
Many FM contributions are tied up in day-to-day delivery of services. So look at those services and learn to see them as accomplishments. Talk about costs savings, cost avoidance, risk mitigation and service excellence. Acknowledge how sustainability and energy conservation initiatives impact economics and enhance corporate image. Don’t be shy to promote what you do, why you do it and why it matters to the larger organization.
The reality is that you may not get to the boardroom table in the C-Suite, but you can influence those who are at the boardroom table. By figuring out who the decision makers and key players are, you can foster critical relationships with people who are at or are close to the C-Suite. Where possible, always bring solutions, develop consensus and proactively support their operations. By talking their language (time and dollars) and providing facts, figures, data and evidence that what you do makes a difference, you are preparing for the times you need to call on these people for support with an FM initiative.
If you are working within an organization that hasn’t yet made this shift in perception, here are nine good reasons it should. Read them carefully and look for ways to include these ideas in your communications approach:
- Facilities are one of your company’s largest assets and a represent a significant cost of doing business. A Facility Management Professional has the knowledge to maximize value and minimize costs, adding directly to the bottom line.
- Facilities and the environment they provide employees, processes and systems have a large impact on productivity. A Facility Management Professional understands the company’s business and the interaction with the Facility necessary to maximize productivity.
- Facility accommodations, whether in growth mode or not, require strategic planning to minimize costs and maximize value. A Facility Management Professional provides strategic direction and development or leasing guidance to achieve the results the company needs.
- Sustainability is critical to the environment for the company and its employees as well as corporate image. A Facility Management Professional provides the stewardship required to maintain leadership on the environment.
- The environmental and legislative complexity of owning or leasing Facilities represents a huge risk to the company. A Facility Management Professional navigates the requirements and mitigates the risk.
- Facilities require an entire team of generalists and specialists to provide services. A Facility Management Professional understands how to make these resources work together to maximize value, reduce risk and minimize costs.
- The Facilities that house your business can absorb considerable effort to manage effectively. A Facility Management Professional takes on this burden and frees up other resources to fully focus on what makes the company successful in delivering its core business and generating bottom line results.
- Managing Facilities with an administrative resource or line manager means it won’t get the attention it deserves and may put the company at risk. A Facility Management Professional has training, background and experience in all areas of the complex issues and services required to provide safe, effective stewardship to the companies Facility assets.
- A Facility Management Professional has the experience and overall oversight for Facilities issues, enabling them to see patterns, track changes and identify risks that may have a future negative impact. Their knowledge enables them to take corrective action now to reduce your risk and costs.