5 Communication Tips for Facility Managers
Measured, intelligent communication is a key aspect of doing a job well. That’s true from the smallest tasks to the largest and most complex—and is especially true for facility managers, who spend much of their time disseminating information and responding to requests from colleagues, managers and teams.
To ensure you’re communicating effectively at your office, below are five tips to help FMs convey their messages more clearly, no matter the context.
1. Mix up your methods
A classic basketball story illustrates how FMs must account for different listening styles when conveying messages. In the early 90s, college coach Dave Odom flew to the home of a recruit named Tim Duncan, hoping to sign the future NBA star to his team. The coach, noting Duncan’s unwillingness to make eye contact and tendency to stare at the television when being spoken to, quickly grew frustrated, asking the recruit to turn off the TV so they could have a serious talk. Duncan’s response was so surprising, you still read stories about it decades later: he turned and repeated Odom’s entire pitch. Word-for-word.
The point? While most seemingly-distracted people won’t have Tim Duncan’s masterful retention skills, everyonehas individual strengths and weaknesses when it comes to listening and learning. Some people retain spoken information well, while others absorb written content best. Others learn faster via visual representation. In practice, this could mean breaking down an issue into bullet points in that email to your boss or bringing a presentation with charts and bar graphs to the meeting you’re facilitating. Do your best to find out how the people around you learn, and tailor your methods to their strengths.
2. Leverage your data
While you focus on communicating the hows and whys of office changes, don’t overlook the importance of data to back up your decisions. Leveraging a variety of sources in your communications—from high-level financial breakdowns to granular performance reports—ensures you deliver well-thought-out and supported insights that help allstakeholders understand what you’re saying, and why it’s pertinent.
When you assemble your data, take an extra step and gather feedback from the teams who will be directly affected by the initiative at hand. Conduct surveys, lead team meetings or set up one-on-one discussions with staff to develop a strong understanding of how a proposed change may hinder or improve their ability to do their jobs. Besides helping you understand the issue under discussion, workshopping your plans in advance produces data points that are specific to your organization, and can ultimately give managing teams a clearer view of the situation you describe and the changes you’re forecasting.
3. Be concise, but informative
Not all communication will be in front of a group, and most won’t require visual aids or multiple data sets. Whether it’s a one-on-one in the hallway or a company-wide email chain, one truth holds: keep it short, make it relevant. According to Towers Watson Senior Communication and Change Management Consultant John Finney, the workplace exposes the average person to 300 messages per day. Youmust walk a fine line: provide sufficient information while still remaining clear and concise.
Whenever you’re sharing information, check that you’ve included everything your colleagues need to know—and nothing they don’t. If you see an opportunity to trim without sacrificing context or nuance, take it. The more you hone your communication style, the better you’ll get at giving your teams the information they need, when they need it.
4. Think like your audience—and consider your context
Depending on what you’re implementing and who you’re speaking to, a communication flow might look like the following:
- Announcement: outline the proposed change, objectives and timelines.
- Requests for input: check with employees who may have questions, concerns or suggestions.
- Updates: notify your team of any timeline adjustments, new stakeholders or other project news.
Understand your audience, and then employ this knowledge to further your mission—be it explaining a denied seating request or outlining the first phase of a major layout change.
5. Step outside the bubble
You communicate with your direct associates on a regular basis—contractors, maintenance staff, etc. However, you should also make the effort to solicit feedback from other departments when it comes to making specific changes to the office environment. Arrange meetings with department heads to talk about ways they could be better supported by your team. If these meetings are too difficult to arrange, see if you can sit in on department meetings instead. Simply asking your coworkers for their thoughts every now and again can also be an effective means of information gathering.
If you’re managing a change, think like your peers in order to anticipate their questions and concerns. Many project frameworks—like the ADKAR model, to give just one example—have been developed with change management in mind, but what works best will depend on your team's work processes and your available resources. Start with a group of early adopters in order to test changes on a smaller scale, and adapt accordingly. No matter your strategy, reaching out to others is a great first step. There’s no growth in a silo.
By taking stock of your existing communication strategies, you can chart a course towards more effective and informative company missives and updates. Try a new approach, ask questions, present relevant data and gauge your audience to ensure the way you circulate information is as open and inclusive as possible.
Whether you need to pull a report on your space or run a seating scenario before suggesting a change, OfficeSpace can help ensure your communications offer the right insights and suggestions. Request a demo and let us help with the heavy lifting.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock / sebra, Shutterstock / Lipik Stock Media