The soft skills every facility manager needs

by Liv Croagh
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Soft skills

Sure, some lessons can be taught in a classroom – but others can only be learned through experience. LIV CROAGH explores which soft skills are needed to succeed in FM.

For facility managers, most have taken non-traditional career paths. Perhaps it’s the road a little less travelled, or perhaps the profession attracts a certain kind of person. One thing is for sure: you can’t just get by on technical knowledge.

Facility management is a demanding profession and you need a diverse range of tools in your belt ready to whip out at any given point. In today’s hybrid workforce, the pace of change has never been faster. From keeping buildings clean and functional through to re-evaluating the use of real estate, FMs are the silent forefront of the ‘new normal’, and it takes a special set of skills to be this person.

To top this off, every FM position is also slightly different from the next, meaning the necessary capabilities vary for each facility and role. But soft skills are a given across most careers. Interpersonal strengths, top notch communication and even understanding emotional demands: these are the things that successful FMs have.

What is a soft skill?

Soft skills aren’t necessarily learned from a book, but are fostered through interpersonal relationships and experience, as well as being naturally possessed. For FMs, communication, adaptability, critical thinking, project management and teamwork are essential for success.


On an average day, an FM has to manage the expectations of multiple stakeholders, and success can hinge on your ability to communicate with those stakeholders. It’s not enough to know your building – or buildings – inside out. You need to be able to clearly impart critical information about safety, security or routine maintenance with tenants, service providers, senior managers and regulatory bodies.

It’s also important not to forget to connect with and inspire your team. Without understanding their strengths and abilities, it can be difficult to lead change or improvements – the cornerstone of FM.


Although the pandemic has compounded the need for adaptability, this has always been a top talent sought after in facility management. No two days are alike when dealing with reactive maintenance, and so many variables mean the environment around FMs can shift quickly.

Maintaining a level-head in the face of persistent uncertainty is crucial to doing the job well. Whether the workplace atmosphere is stressful or exciting, FMs will need to take control and act quickly when a swift return to normal operations depends on them.

Critical thinking

From reviewing data, to having a meeting with the executives, configuring a space redesign or ensuring all the tech is up to standard in an office, analytical and critical thinking skills are essential.

Understanding data, and then being able to make good judgements based on this input, is crucial for important business decisions. It’s all about reflecting on past experience to forecast future needs through a strategic lens.

Project management

If there’s one thing common to most FMs it’s doing a million things at once.

Project management is essential to being able to just do the basics of the job. In fact, many facility managers may find their job title is seen as interchangeable with project management – and maybe for good reason. Both require the efficient management of teams, risks and resources, delivering to deadlines, and analysing performance. (Although a facility manager’s projects may never end!)


Like in any career, teamwork is of course essential to facility management. But for FMs, it’s about the ability to empower teams.

While letting go and assigning responsibility can sometimes feel overwhelming, empowering colleagues through compassion and communication is good leadership. Delegating shows your team that you really believe in their abilities and this further strengthens the entire organisation.

FMs have a unique career path. Without specific and traditional education pathways, they rely on learning on the
job and from the people around them. Upskilling in technical knowledge is always imperative, but prioritising high level soft skills will create a more connected team, and one that is always working towards a common goal – even if that goal post is always moving.

Liv Croagh is the managing editor of Marketing magazine.

This article originally appeared in the ‘People Issue’ of the Facility Management digital magazine. Grab your free copy here. Existing subscribers can read the magazine here.

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