No matter how successful a Facilities Manager is, everyone needs advice. Remember the popular adage that “things will go wrong in any given situation if you give them a chance”? Give yourself every chance you can and avoid some of these pitfalls while performing your day-to-day responsibilities.
- Not ensuring compliance. This includes things like neglecting to get required signatures for special permits, not getting the proper signoffs or pre-approvals for a project, or cutting corners with safety precautions. While something like this doesn’t happen often, it can and does occur when Facilities Managers and employees get busy in their day-to-day work. This can create a number of problems for you; your facility management team might forget some of the details of the project, or you may have started, or worse yet completed, a project just to find out the funding has been reduced or pulled back. We usually have the best of intentions and just want to get the job done. But if you reverse order the steps, or miss some of the steps altogether, something will go awry.
- Not documenting meetings. Facilities Managers may go into a meeting or a face-to-face discussion about next steps and expectations, and fail to take notes. This is a challenge for you because others don’t always listen carefully or fully understand the big picture. If they don’t recall exactly what was discussed and agreed upon, chances are no action will be taken at all, which means the problem will persist, or even grow. A quick email after the meeting/exchange with bullet points will suffice. You want a document that briefly details your expectations and agreed on action items so everyone is on the same page. It is helpful to also note the follow-up/due date and who is specifically responsible (i.e., holding each other accountable!).
- Doing the work yourself. Your team is there for a reason – they are meant to level the distribution of work and ensure the best work is produced through the strengths of the team members. Appropriating and delegating duties is key. You need to hold your team accountable, even though it might seem like taking on the work yourself is sometimes a quicker option. But doing it yourself robs your team of the opportunity to grow, learn and develop. And, frankly, your way might NOT be the best way.
- Ignoring repeated complaints. These can include temperature issues, missed trash, incomplete work orders and a myriad of other things quite common in the Facilities Management Think about the building occupant who calls often about being too hot. The facilities team visits the work area and has a dialogue about the temperature, but no action is taken to actually fix the problem. After a while, the tendency is to ignore the “daily” call and shrug it off. Not only is this a reflection of poor customer service, but there could also be a more serious root cause affecting the temperature of the space. Take the opportunity to think outside the box and be creative with the solution; maybe the desk can be re-oriented, or airflow to space could be increased. The bottom line is that unresolved complaints hurt your credibility.
- Remaining unaware of industry trends/not thinking strategically. As FMs, we need to understand how these two ideas are affecting our clients, employees, and ourselves. We should always take the time to inform ourselves of the local, national, and even global industry trends. Failure to take notice could negatively affect our facility operations. Taking deliberate time to step out of the day-to-day minutiae is difficult, but essential. Even if you are successfully managing in the short term, failure to think about the future and find ways to adapt will impact your ability to plan for the long term. It’s critical for you to plan time to keep abreast of what’s going on in the industry. And by the way…it doesn’t stop there. How do you turn those discoveries and thoughts into actionable plans? (We’ll save that for a future blog!)
- Lack of an organizational system. It may seem old hat, but the organization is key. Yet some people really struggle with this. For Facilities Managers, it’s especially important with the plethora of projects and moving pieces and parts competing for your attention daily! With FM’s having such a broad scope of work and such a wide expanse of stakeholders, both organization and communication are critical. Create a documentation approach that best fits your organization’s culture and your management style. Having a plan that addresses your team’s current activities and commitments, and future commitments (looking forward 30-60-90-180 days), ensures you will be on track to not only accomplish your annual plan/goals but keep your day-to-day commitments. This will not only keep you on track but will help keep everyone else on the same page too. Not to mention this will build your credibility as someone who ‘does what they say they’re going to do’!
- Not recognizing your team’s good work. Praise does not need to be given for every little thing, but it shouldn’t be withheld either. It’s difficult for staff to be motivated when they don’t have a clear understanding of whether they’re heading in the right direction and living up to the facility manager’s standards. There’s that old saying “you’ll get 10 complaints before you receive even one thank you.” Recognition, then, is important for morale and productivity. When your employees receive compliments from the client or a building occupant (or basically anyone besides you), they should be recognized. When you receive an email or compliment like that, let the employee know and consider letting the larger team know. This will help motivate both that employee as well as the entire team.
So, there you have it; seven pitfalls to avoid! There are of course several other pitfalls to avoid and variations to these themes, but each person has their own style. For me, these are my most important “crevices” to avoid; leading to a successful and productive team dynamic, while delivering on business results. No matter how successful a Facilities Manager is, everyone needs advice.