Facility Management Skills That Set You Apart

facility management skills

Great facility managers do much more than maintain buildings. They help organizations meet goals, using brick-and-mortar assets to enable growth. I’ve seen that time and time again as a commercial service provider. But what facility management skills do you need to accomplish that? 

I recently talked with a client and colleague who’s an expert on this subject: Karen Rossilli-Kiefer, an IFMA-certified Facility Management Professional (FMP) and President of TeamPAR, a company that provides design-procurement, facilities management, and flooring solutions for a diverse range of facilities.

Here’s Karen’s advice about the critical skills to build if you aspire to be a valuable asset to your organization.

5 facility management skills you need to be a top performer

1. Goal orientation

Succeeding in facility management is about more than making sure the space is comfortable and well-lit. 

“A valuable facility manager must think well beyond that,” Karen explained. “You need to understand the mission and vision of the company and think about how the space supports organizational goals, such as attracting and retaining talent, improving employee well-being, and creating a company culture of belonging.”

 Your building can say to employees: “we want you here” or it can tell them “we don’t care about you.” How can you deliver the right message so employees feel valued? Give them choices.

 There are 5 generations coexisting in the workplace now, and they have vastly different preferences about how they want to work. Gen Z wants to work in Starbucks, Boomers want private offices, and Gen X wants standing desks. If you want them to respect each other, collaborate, and learn from each other, you need to provide options.

 Karen cautioned: “You’re never going to make everybody happy. But the goal is to figure out what makes most people happy and productive and focus your efforts there.”

2. Proactive planning

Every facility manager needs to solve problems. But you can achieve more by being proactive, because that reduces costs by preventing problems. 

“Think futuristically instead of just putting fires out,” Karen recommended. “As a proactive facility manager, of course you replace lights, upgrade filters, and clean out traps. But you also plan for the useful end-of-life for flooring, roofing, and HVAC. That means preparing financially and choosing the right products for the right reasons.”

A maintenance person fixes what’s broken. A facility manager, on the other hand, proactively looks at the building and plans ahead, so resources are used wisely and company goals are met.

3. Fiscal focus

Facility managers who want to become top performers need to understand design, usage and life cycle planning well enough to present ideas that bring return on investment to the C-suite. 

“Return on investment is key,” said Karen, “because otherwise those ideas are never getting off the ground.” 

 Ideas that help retain talent (such as providing choice in the workplace) tend to bring big financial returns. 

“Turnover is the enemy of any productive and profitable company,” explained Karen. “It’s incredibly expensive to onboard new talent, to get them to understand the culture of the company and to become useful.”

 Considering life cycle costs can also help you make smarter financial decisions. For example, choosing the least expensive product is not always the best financial choice over time. If a $100 product costs $400 to maintain and lasts 5 years, that costs you more in the long run than a $150 product that costs $50 to maintain and lasts 7 years.

4. Emotional intelligence

Facility managers wear many different hats. Yes, you have to keep the lights on, but there’s also an emotional intelligence that you must apply to decision making. Serving building occupants means understanding people’s needs. Those needs can vary significantly. You need to create an environment that works for everyone.

Karen shared an example from a school environment: “Today’s children have an attention of 7 seconds or less. They want to learn on the floor. They need to be surrounded by stimuli. If they don’t get that, you’ve lost them. When test time comes, that school will underperform.”

“The same thing happens in an office. You need to create an environment that allows people to focus, achieve, team build, and teach the next generation.”

How can you do that? 

“Know your audience. Talk to them. Find out what people are doing in the building and the purpose of the space. What are they trying to achieve and for how long? All of that goes into the decisions a facility manager must make.”

TIP: Technology can help. With AI and building management systems, buildings are becoming smarter by learning the occupants’ needs and wants for temperature, lighting and usage styles.

5. Passion for making a difference

No matter how great your other skills, they won’t be enough if you’re not passionate about what you do.  

 “Facility managers need to feel like that building is their home and they are affecting change within their home,” said Karen. “They need to care about its occupants and the big picture.”

So how can your building make a difference for its occupants? Karen explained that in education, the building is actually another teacher.  “If you bring wellness into the workplace through biophilic design, you can actually change the outcome for the occupants of the building.”

Biophilic design is the science of bringing the outside in for the benefit of occupants. It’s proven to reduce blood pressure, increase concentration, and make people happier and more productive. 

 When you can create outdoor spaces for meetings or for people to rejuvenate during the day, it doesn’t cost a great deal but employees really feel appreciated. Having choices and feeling heard is going to outweigh issues with salaries and promotions for most people. It’s a win for everybody.

 “We spend more time at work than anywhere else,” explained Karen, “so it has to be about more than money.”

One more tip: hire service providers that support your goals

If your goal is to become a thought leader and top performer in facility management, look for service providers who can help you achieve more. You’ll recognize the ones who can because they think about your big-picture needs, ask the right questions, make smart recommendations, and add value above and beyond your expectations.

 If you need a more valuable partner for HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair, I hope you’ll consider Worthing Air.

Call Worthing Air today at 973-575-5276.

Worthing Air is the HVAC service partner more NJ companies rely on. Efficiency, quality, and integrity have been the backbone of our operation for over 40 years. Our technical expertise ensures safe, high-quality, and timely workmanship on every project.