The FM Professional

Building a Strong FM Department

David Spence
March 31st, 2015

Facility Managers Can Help Their Colleagues Grow and Thrive

1.) Find out your employees’ pain points

One of the best ways for a facilities department to improve is to ask its employees for their opinions, so take your workers’ needs into consideration. Check in with your team on a regular basis; find out what problems they encounter in their everyday work. What makes their job in facilities harder? What would they change about the way things run, if they could? Find out about your employees’ challenges and see if you can devise some new methods and strategies for getting the work done. Perhaps you’ll find something more efficient and productive in the process.

2.) Encourage professional development

Helping your employees grow professionally is one of the best things you can do. Why? It’s better to have a team of maintenance professionals with a specialty, plus some knowledge of several different systems (electrical, mechanical, IT/software, HVAC, etc.), than one where each person specializes in one area and knows nothing else. Even if they do prefer to specialize in one area, however, continuing education is still important. Keeping up with the most recent best practices will help your team stay up-to-date on their strongest areas of knowledge. Plus, having a versatile team will be helpful to you as a facilities manager, because it will ensure the company’s in good hands if you’re away on vacation or a business trip.

3.) Build a culture of trust

Some bosses run their departments on a culture of fear and strictness. In this kind of environment, it’s difficult for workers to be creative. Mistakes are discouraged, which means innovation is, too. In the worst situations, a worker might fear making one wrong move will lead to them losing a job. But according to business writer Kevin Daum, “amazing bosses” approach things differently. They create an atmosphere of trust where employees can feel safe if they fail: “Successes are met with equal high praise and rewards, while failures are met with encouraging acceptance and postmortem learning discussions yielding next-step improvements.” 1

4.) Provide your employees with leadership opportunities

Try to find ways you can encourage leadership in your employees. Leading others is an excellent experience for any kind of worker to add to their arsenal of professional tools. If they specialize in mechanical, for example, perhaps they can hold a training session explaining some basic concepts to their colleagues. Perhaps put one employee in charge of running the department meetings on a rotating basis. Or maybe they can be assigned to head a special project or task force throughout the year. Whatever it is, letting your colleagues practice leadership is a great way for them to share their expertise, build up their confidence and advance professionally.

5.) Create opportunities for bonding

It’s important for the members of a team to have a certain level of comfort and familiarity with one another. If the only time they see each other is in meetings, however, that connection won’t happen. Find ways that the department can bond as a team. This could mean participating in team building activities in your area, volunteering with a local charity or organizing a team outing somewhere. It could also be as simple as going out to lunch together or holding a social hour with doughnuts and coffee. When coworkers know and trust one another, they can function better as a whole unit.

These are just a few of the ways you can be the boss your team needs to keep growing and thriving. How do you try to be a good boss to your own employees?

6.) Assess your needs and problems

An ecosystem is resource-intensive by nature. It’s comprised of all the elements in your workplace related to managing people and the space. This is why identifying needs and problems is important—failing to pinpoint specific issues can lead to expensive and ineffective investments. Managers should identify workplace issues through a combination of qualitative and quantitative data.


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