This can make it difficult for facilities managers to gain influence in a company—difficult, that is, but not impossible. To increase your level of influence with both your coworkers and your superiors, read these four tips.
Facilities management isn’t so different from many other professions in its need for good communication skills. To demonstrate the value of what your department is doing, translating your actions into terms that are easily understood is a must.
For example, when you’re explaining technical concepts to executives, make it easier for them to understand by using relatable analogies.
Take Lenny Jachimowicz, vice president of engineering and facility management for Marriott International, for example. In one meeting, he compared “an important step in the hand-over a worldwide technology deployment…to the moment when a newborn baby is handed over to the parents and taken home for good.”
By using easily digestible concepts like Jachimowicz, you can influence stakeholders and help them understand your thinking behind your decisions.
As I mentioned before, FMs have authority over their own teams, but few other departments in the company.
One way to overcome this problem, writes management consultants Tony Kublica and Sara LaForest, is to form positive relationships with your coworkers. Doing so will help you gain influence through a connection based on mutual understanding.
According to Kublica and LaForest, achieving this understanding may involve numerous social strategies, including achieving goals that are equally beneficial for both you and your coworkers, acknowledging personality and work style differences and “finding areas of mutual interest.”
What does this mean, in layman’s terms?
It could be as simple as asking a coworker how they’re doing when you’re passing their desk; it could be as involved as setting up a formal meeting with them to listen to their complaints or concerns about the office space.
Either way, listening and empathizing with your coworkers can make both of you more receptive to each other’s suggestions, as well as helping them better understand what the facilities team does for the company as a whole.
Facilities managers have the habit of quietly working behind the scenes. However, to increase the department’s value, it’s key that FMs start broadcasting their successes more often.
How? Metrics are key. According to Stormy Friday, president of the Friday Group, facilities managers either provide too many numbers that don’t mean anything to executives, or don’t provide numbers at all.
As a starting point, she suggests tracking “energy costs, work order performance or occupancy information.”
These can help you present concrete numbers that will impress your bosses.
In some companies, certain departments may hold info sessions to educate employees on the resources they offer and policies that may have recently changed.
Travel management departments, for example, may hold sessions every so often to educate employees on the company’s travel guidelines. An HR department may hold such a session to discuss changes in employee benefits.
You could try something similar with your own department. Consider holding a session with whatever topic you feel is most relevant. Are there questions about the facility or work orders that you hear over and over? Hold a general FAQ session. Are you redesigning the workplace? Host a Q-and-A session where employees provide suggestions on improving the office.
Facilities managers have the ability to be influential in their companies; it’s just a matter of knowing how to place themselves in a position of authority.
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