Satisfying professional curiosity

by Tiffany Paczek
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Opportunities for facility managers and others making a career in the built environment are limited only by one’s own imagination, writes GAIL TRACEY.

When I was interviewed for my profile in the October 2017 issue of FM magazine it was an excellent opportunity, at the milestone age of 40, to pause and reflect on my career and achievements to date. I now find myself facing a very common midlife conundrum, taking stock of my career to-do list and pondering… ‘what next?’

My husband builds shopping centres. He enjoys what he does, but still quietly yearns to build a football stadium or a power station for the thrill of the new and unknown. It’s a shared sensation among my peers and I believe being professionally curious is an underrated virtue and one that should be encouraged at any age.

I am naturally inquisitive about things outside my normal scope of work and recognise how difficult it is to satisfy an appetite for fresh and interesting experiences in our professional lives. I have been fortunate enough to work on diverse projects in far flung countries, but is it possible for career facility managers and others in the industry, to try a new job on for size without leaving their company?

CAREER MOBILITY

As the gig economy takes hold in Australia and the workforce transforms into a blended mix of full-time and part-time employees, consultants, contractors and freelancers, certain roles will become increasingly important across all industries, with long-term relationship building, creative thinking and flexibility becoming much sought after capabilities.

Having worked closely with HR professionals throughout my FM career to transition, transform and integrate people, contracts and companies, I see that right now the HR community is changing the future of work and work experience in response to the demands of a Millennial-driven labour force. But, whatever our ages, we should focus on the opportunities that moving with the times present.

In an extract from a study sponsored by Cisco titled, ‘Future Workplace Forecast: Navigating the Future of Work’ we can see that more employers are offering internal career mobility opportunities and programs that facilitate and enable curious employees to test drive new skills and roles while staying with their current organisation. This is a bonus for FMs looking to widen their skillset and develop professionally.

The study shows that companies embracing internal career mobility increase employee engagement (49 percent), improve employee productivity (39 percent) and improve employee teamwork (39 percent). Companies that champion career mobility programs are also recognised as the best places to work.

In a press release announcing the study, Francine Katsoudas, senior vice president and chief people officer at Cisco, commented: “The future of work will bring technology and the human touch together to drive differentiated experiences and intelligence that drives business impact. In these experiences, people are looking for customisation and agility in how and where they work. We no longer work in a one-size-fits-all world. We are now creating one-size-fits-one experiences that accelerate teams, individual performance and continuous learning.”

According to Jeanne C Meister, co-author of the book The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees, “Business and HR leaders must take a leadership role in understanding the future of work and how to create a culture that is personalised, embraces career mobility and provides easy access to on-demand learning… employers recognise they must grow and broaden [their] employees’ skills, not just through formal learning, but by being exposed to myriad new jobs and roles inside the company.”

SO, WHAT’S IN IT FOR PROFESSIONALLY-CURIOUS PEOPLE IN FM?

As I see it the opportunities are only limited by our own imagination. Of course, a robust career mobility program will allow us to enhance our existing skills and develop new ones, which in turn will enable us to offer more strategic insights to the organisations we serve.

More exciting perhaps is the prospect of taking a holistic view of our professional lives and preventing or curtailing periods of mid-career weariness and/or diminishing motivation (we hate to admit it, but it happens). Becoming re-energised and fully engaged with our organisations will undoubtedly inspire us to meet the challenges of the future.

Finally, as thought leaders and experts in the management of workplaces, I believe the FM industry would do well to collaborate more closely with HR departments (aka People Operations, Employee Experience etc) to understand the changing face of the workforce and the changing demands of employees. Only then will we truly optimise the workplaces of the future.

Gail Tracey is an independent consultant and long-time FM enthusiast.

This article also appears in the April/May issue of Facility Management magazine.

Image: 123RF’s alphaspirit © 123RF.com

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