11 essential FM skills according to facilities professionals
Which 11 skills are essential to forging a successful career as a facility manager?
The facility management industry has evolved in many ways over the last few years. To gauge that change and put data behind it, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) released a survey to better understand the skills and knowledge that make up the role of a facility manager (FM).
As a result, the survey yielded a framework of 11 skills that have become an integral part of the IFMA training and professional development programs. These skills are essential to forging a successful career as a facility manager. In this post, we're taking a close look at these core skills and why they're important for facility managers of all experience levels.
FMs work with various teams, vendors, and other third parties at any given time; therefore, effective communication is a vital skill for this role. From small tasks to large projects, smart communication skills can be the difference between a project succeeding and failing.
For example, let's say you're preparing a presentation for your company's leadership team on why they should consider implementing office neighborhoods. You have tons of occupancy data to back up your ideas, but unless you can present it in a way that everyone will understand, the effectiveness of your proposed plans might be lost on them.
Being able to translate complicated information or data in a way that others can comprehend is a useful skill for any FM.
Emergency preparedness and business continuity
In addition to running the daily operations of a company, a considerable part of facilities management is emergency preparedness and business continuity.
FMs need to not only have a plan in place and be able to communicate that plan to employees and building occupants, but they need to have a comprehensive understanding of the building automation system (BAS) to help plan for emergencies.
For example, the facilities team needs to make sure the building system includes a smoke control system, a security system, and other alerts that will help with proactive and preventative maintenance to avoid emergencies altogether.
Environmental stewardship and sustainability
A significant component of an FMs job is to implement initiatives that will help reduce the company's impact on the environment from a building operations perspective.
Implementing programs and systems, like BAS with energy tracking, internal sustainability efforts, and company-mandated energy regulations, can help lower the amount of waste and emissions a company produces.
Not only can these measures help reduce a company's environmental footprint and save them money in the long-term, but they can boost employee retention through environmental stewardship. A study from swytchX, a software program that helps companies track their energy supply, found that when choosing a company to work for, over 70% of those surveyed said they are more likely to work for a green company.
Finance and business
Facility managers are consistently working on various projects, and therefore, multiple budgets. Having extensive knowledge of finance and business operations can propel your career forward.
For example, adhering to a budget doesn't just mean adding up expenses or opting for the less expensive alternative. It involves juggling different interests, working with multiple groups in some cases, and having a keen eye for detail. To be successful, FMs must have a solid grasp of their company's financials as well as being able to back up recommendations with data or research, involve the right departments in projects, and more.
The key to a prosperous career in facility management is to understand that the industry isn't all business or numbers-driven. There's a critical human factor to successful facilities management, and it's crucial to create a positive employee experience and workplace environment.
A significant part of an FMs role is to cultivate a positive workplace culture, and that can't be done unless FMs work closely with the human resources (HR) department. An FM team that works well with HR can create a positive work environment that caters to employee needs, and as a result, has long-term benefits.
Aside from that, making sure employees feel safe to share their opinions and thoughts regarding the workplace and holding the leadership team accountable for enforcing a positive culture is key.
Leadership and strategy
Understanding different building systems are just one part of an FMs job. Positioning yourself as trustworthy is just as important. Possessing leadership skills is a vital part of being an FM, but it doesn't happen overnight.
A few ways you can improve your facilities leadership are:
Get to know your employees
Understand how they work, what they need, and what their issues are, and make the necessary changes.
Advocate for improvement
Not only do you want to be someone who calls out things that could be improved, but you want to be someone who can help make it happen.
Encourage employee suggestions
Be receptive to employee ideas and how they could make the company better.
Operations, maintenance, and accessibility
One of the primary responsibilities of the FM team is to oversee the daily operations and maintenance of the office building(s). Making sure the building is functioning correctly, secure (both physically and from a cyber-security standpoint, which we'll touch more on later), and accessible by all are essential functions of the facilities management operations.
However, a facility manager's responsibilities go beyond making sure things are functioning in the current moment; it's just as important to focus on predictive and preventative maintenance that can help the company avoid costly fines or other issues.
In addition to predictive and preventative maintenance, ensuring the building is accessible to all by leveraging universal design principles is crucial. Being able to manage daily operations as well as see what efforts are needed to make the building a functional, accessible, and positive place for a company to grow is at the core of facility management.
One of the most important skills you can have as a facility manager is project management. After all, you're juggling a lot in this role. From projects like overseeing the new building security system installation alongside the IT team to finalizing your presentation on restructuring the office layout, there's a lot to keep organized.
A few indicators of great project management are:
- Project triaging
- Strong internal communication
- Realistic deadlines
Honing your project management skills can not only make a massive difference in your career as an FM, but it will help you stay on track, especially when you have several projects going at once.
Paying attention to what your company needs, what it can afford, and what ultimately makes sense for the good of the company. Looking for the best facilities solutions for your company is, of course, a top priority, but finding the right solutions based on what your company needs—all without compromising on quality—is principal.
This may mean investing in a predictive maintenance system that ultimately saves your company thousands of dollars. Or knowing what qualities to look for in a quality candidate to add to your team.
Developing a keen eye for quality may come with time, but it will position you as an important component of the facilities team.
Real estate and property management
Knowing your building from the inside out can be the difference between making smart decisions and making bad ones. The principles of real estate and property management are a vital part of being on the facilities team, as it's your responsibility to oversee or weigh in on decisions related to the building.
For example, if your team is scouting out new office buildings for your growing team, knowing what types of questions to ask the real estate agent is important as it can help you determine if the build is the right fit for your company's needs.
As an FM, having a working knowledge of the facilities software and technology that will help your company reach its goals, streamline processes, and improve the employee experience is essential.
One of the core functions of a modern-day facility manager is knowing how (and when) to merge technology with physical spaces in a way that benefits the company. Staying up-to-date on FM technology trends, understanding what your employees need, and figuring out ways to propel the company forward is imperative.
Hone your FM skills early and often
Facility managers wear multiple hats during their careers, so it's essential to build a foundation of skills that prepares you for that variance.
Though these skills are often learned with experience, the FMs that prioritize focusing on these skills early on will set themselves up for a long, rewarding career.
See how facility management software can help you. Contact us today, and our team will find the solution that's right for your company.
Photo Credits: Sajjad Hussain M, Sarah Pflug, Ernesto Eslava, Andrea Piacquadio, Anastasia Gepp, Anastasia Gepp