When CEO of visitor management software company Proxyclick Gregory Blondeau asked leading IFMA members and facilities management commentators what it takes to succeed in the industry today, the answers he received were surprisingly uniform.
Today's facility managers undertake a wide range of duties that all require essential skills.
When Proxyclick needed to determine whether our software solutions were fulfilling their requirements, we invited several leading industry figures to identify the primary skillset that is required to succeed in the industry.
The following compilation for FM Magazine and the FM Industry website is based on their feedback, and details four core areas of competency which every facility manager (and employer) should develop for the efficient and safe delivery of facility services within workplaces.
Facility managers have challenges thrown at them every day and many of these demand creative solutions rather than a prescriptive, rule- and procedures -based, approach to problem-solving.
Elliott Chase, managing editor of I-fm says the recent influx of technological solutions into the industry is particularly challenging, as it means facility managers must now "find a creative combination of technological tools to best fit the needs of particular facilities”.
From a software vendor's perspective, we believe emerging technologies - and software delivered as a service (SaaS) in combination with enhanced Cloud computing capabilities in particular, present challenges that extend beyond software selection and integration to forcing facility managers to reconsider what FM service delivery and reporting actually mean today.
One might even, for example, observe that the current shift towards greater reliance on technology enhances demand for better employee communication skills, empathy, and even opens the doors for the delivery of "genuine" customer service as FM is a multi-dimensional "people" business and will develop into an even greater one as it deploys more and more data gathering and information dissemination systems.
Being able to empathise by placing themselves in the shoes of workers and guests has always been a hallmark of the most effective facility managers as it creates happier, healthier and more productive working environments.
Co-owner of Hospitality Works and LinkedIn Integrated Facility Management group administrator Jurriaan Hommes champions the case for better "people management" skills further by observing FM to be "all about employees working for different stakeholders and end-users".
"It is not a 'desk' job but about what guests and employees experience every day when passing through your department.
"Check your company’s guest and employee journeys frequently to know how to act", he advises, whilst suggesting facility managers adopt a 'Plan, Do, Check, Act' mantra for ensuring "continuous improvement of the facility environment".
Indeed, the ability to understand the issues guests and employees struggle with most - and to anticipate any future frustrations, also allows facility managers to create workplaces that actually meet commercial and operational needs rather than simply appearing good on paper.
Regardless of how talented facility managers are with Excel or building management software, they need to respond in a calm and collected manner to new and urgent challenges and requirements.
Chief ISS A/S Marketing Officer and IFMA non-executive Board Member, Peter Ankerstjerne, believes a key personality trait of a successful facility manager is adaptability.
Developing a line of reasoning he first introduced at a Facility Managers' conference in Madrid in 2015, Ankerstjerne says: "Facility Managers must be able to understand and support their customer's core business and adapt any workplaces and service set-up accordingly”.
“Today, any facilities manager looking to stay on top of his or her game needs to be increasingly data-driven. The profession is moving away from simply being a reactive, dispatcher of technicians for work requests.
"To add value and get a ‘seat at the table,’ facility managers need to be able to analyse facilities spend, contractor performance, quality of service, and so on - and to proactively identify cost outliers and areas for improvement.
"This is only possible by having the right facility management analytics tools that can leverage all the data available. Others decisions like equipment repair or replacement and contractor performance can really only be addressed from an analytics standpoint.”
It is clear then that although each of the above skills and capabilities is of stand-alone significance, when applied in combination, they represent an important new paradigm for the transformation of even the most average of facility managers into the service "superstar" of today and tomorrow.