What Makes a Good Facility Manager?
By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
An air traffic controller isn’t qualified for the same job as an architect, who isn’t likely equipped to be a marine biologist. Given these examples, it’s obvious that certain jobs demand certain skills. It’s no different for facilities management. Not just anyone can be a good facility manager.
What makes a good facility manager? It starts with a unique set of traits, skills, and education, tailored for this role. Below, we’ll dive into not only what a facility manager is and what they’re responsible for, but how to hire for success in this position. With the right person in the role, companies can look to a facility manager for broad benefits they might not otherwise enjoy.
What is a facilities manager?
A facilities manager oversees the upkeep and use of property. This spans everything from delegation of maintenance tasks to vendors, to coordinating space utilization among the workforce. Facility managers are the link between facilities and the people who use them, as well as facilities and the broader goals of the company.
At a macro level, a facility manager might provide data to a corporate real estate manager about the cost and productivity of their facilities, which informs decision-making across a broad property portfolio. In a micro capacity, a facility manager is responsible for overseeing the room booking software employees use to reserve workspaces. These examples illustrate the broad scope of facilities and the need for a person (or team) to oversee them.
Facility manager is also a broad term that covers many different synonyms. Depending on the emphasis of job duties for a particular position, companies may use one of more than two dozen different terms to describe the role. At the end of the day, a facility manager is a little bit of everything: a strategist, coordinator, analyst, manager, and all-around problem-solver.
Roles and responsibilities
What is a facilities manager's responsibilities? According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the primary duties of a facility manager span six different areas of focus:
- Building technology (smart buildings)
- Employee health and safety
- Recruitment and training
- Environmental efforts
- Maintenance and upkeep
- Culture and social support
Within each of these areas of focus is a long list of sub-focuses and tasks, each directly linked to the building, business operations, and the people involved in them. They’re split into hard and soft facilities services.
A good facilities manager will know how to attend to the needs of a building so they benefit the people using it. This ranges from something as simple as proper space planning to prevent overcrowding, to establishing a multi-input system for support ticketing and facilities maintenance task delegation.
The primary responsibility of a facility manager comes down to one very simple concept: transform facilities from a cost center into a competitive advantage. A good facility manager is always asking “How can we turn this cost into an investment that yields a return?”
The traits of a good facility manager
A good facility manager is someone who can transform one of the largest balance sheet expenditures (facilities) into a strategic asset for business success. This doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a refined set of skills, logic-minded thinking, and a knack for problem-solving. IFMA lists the following 11 core competencies as the most valuable for a facility manager:
- Facility information and technology management
- Finance and business
- Leadership and strategy
- Occupancy and human factors
- Operations and maintenance
- Performance and quality
- Project management
- Real estate
- Risk management
Successful facility managers understand how to marry these traits to the strategic initiatives of a company. How can we reduce facility upkeep costs to improve bottom-line financials? Will a new desking concept improve employee productivity? Are we practicing sustainable initiatives? These are just a few of the questions facility managers need to ask and answer as they look for ways to leverage facilities.
The right traits can help facility managers see opportunities amidst headwinds and long-term benefits ahead of short-term struggles. It takes competency in the above traits to bring such a complex concept like facilities management into focus and improve it in measurable ways.
Set your company up for success
What is the importance of facility management? You can’t put a price on a smooth-running workplace and the operational efficiencies it creates. A good facility manager can be the difference between a comfortable, efficient, hardworking team and disorganized, unmotivated employees.
A good facility manager has the traits and abilities to look at facilities and understand their interconnectedness to other aspects of business. A great facility manager will continually find ways to identify opportunities and improve the workplace to affect positive outcomes for the business.