Five essential skills every facility manager must have

by FM Media
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people training

Demands for a facility manager’s time and attention can come from all directions. Bryan Christiansen explores five skills that will help any FM excel in their duties.

By taking charge of an organisation’s physical assets, a skilled facility manager has the potential to significantly improve the company’s bottom line and help achieve goals and objectives faster and more efficiently. Yet, experienced FMs can confirm that it often seems like the demands competing for their time and attention seem to come from all directions. How can FMs manage these demands, and what is the skill set they’ll need to excel in their duties? We discuss five of those skills below.

1. Leadership and strategy 

As leaders, FMs are involved in every important decision regarding their facilities. In essence, just like a CEO takes charge of an organisation, FMs are expected to confidently take charge of the infrastructure and personnel under their supervision.

However, taking charge will require that an FM has the expertise to:

  • Perform gap analysis: understand the current situation and map out the requirements to get to a desired level of performance.
  • Strategise: map out the most effective path to achieve the desired improvements and ensure that they get executive (C-suite) buy-in.
  • Execute: organise the necessary resources, then motivate and lead a team to achieve the set goals, objectives, and KPIs.
  • Take personal accountability: they must see their projects and ideas through to the end and take responsibility for the outcome, whether favourable or not.

2. Communication

Facility managers are a focal point of information for all the stakeholders in a building. Thus, they need to have above-average abilities in written, verbal, and listening skills. They will need to liaise with everyone, from frontline staff to senior management. In order to ensure that they are passing information along effectively, facility managers will find the following useful:

  • the use of concise language and easily understood grammar – via email, over the phone, or in meetings
  • the practice of active listening and attentiveness
  • enabling and prioritising feedback from team members at all levels, and
  • recommending and using collaborative tools like Slack, mobile-CMMS, and Asana to keep everyone updated in real-time.

The best FMs are excellent communicators. They are friendly, professional, and approachable. Everyone should feel comfortable sharing ideas and interacting with them.

3. Technical skills

Technology plays a critical role in FM. It is an invaluable contributor to a positive user experience in the building. 

The evolving relevance of technological tools and solutions means that there are options available now to streamline almost every area of the building. 

The variety of solutions that FMs can use today is staggering but a few major ones are:

  • computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS)
  • Familiarity with computer-aided facility management (CAFM) and its many applications for logistic tasks in buildings, and
  • digitisation techniques like paperless inspections.

Although deploying these solutions is beneficial, it’s important that the facility manager conducts adequate research to rule out potential problems with data security and integration with the other systems currently being used in the facility.

4. Operational and maintenance abilities

In addition to everything mentioned so far, facility managers need to have an excellent understanding of the basics of building operations and maintenance. Although most FMs will have a team to handle day-to-day maintenance tasks, it’s vital that on their own, FMs are able to:

  • Recommend, plan, and implement the most suitable maintenance management program on their premises. For example, they may recommend more planned preventive maintenance in residential properties while recommending predictive maintenance in an industrial building.
  • proactively conduct facility inspections and assessments
  • identify safety hazards
  • recommend improvements and upgrades to the facility
  • manage projects on the premises
  • foresee and correct potential regulatory compliance issues
  • oversee maintenance vendors, and
  • dead and direct other employees to keep the facility in optimal condition.

5. Budgeting

An organisation’s physical assets account for a significant part of its budget. As custodians of such a valuable investment, facility managers can relate with the continual pressure to remain within budgets. To succeed, they need enough financial knowledge to forecast annual expenses, propose a budget, then validate and manage it.

That said, budgeting can be a tedious and time consuming process. Previously, the amount of paperwork required to prepare maintenance budgets allowed for too many errors. Fortunately, these days, with the use of solutions like CMMS or a CAFM, FMs are empowered to:

  • track expenses versus budget in real-time
  • generate various reports to communicate financial expectations and goals to stakeholders in advance
  • gain insight into the facility’s financial health and correct course where required
  • manage spare parts inventory across several locations, and
  • allocate and reallocate resources more strategically and appropriately.

Facility management remains a demanding profession but with the consistent application of the above skills, facility managers can effectively manage all the challenges involved, and continue to stay in control of every need that demands their attention.

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS.

Photo by Gabin Vallet on Unsplash

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