Professional Development: Keep Moving Forward

In the multi-faceted facility management profession, “never stop learning” is a useful maxim to keep in mind.

By Kirk Beaudoin, FMA, RFMP, LEED Green Associate
From the August 2018 Issue

When I was asked to share my thoughts on the topic of professional development in facility management, I instantly thought of a mantra I follow: “Never Stop Learning.” I think one should always be receptive to ongoing education, whether that be through actual courses or simply networking with peers. If you don’t keep moving forward, you will fall behind.

professional developmentI think back to the start of my career, sitting around a conference room table with the rest of the facilities department. Everyone was so smart; for every issue or question that came up, someone had the answer. It was such a smooth-running process and a well-oiled machine. I was in awe, and I wondered if I’d ever get to that level.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but fast forward a decade or so into my career, and I realized people in the room were now looking at me when questions arose. I’ve become the person with the answers. When did I become the older guy in the room? It seemed like just yesterday that I was the young one, sitting quietly, observing.

At that time, I remember thinking, “Why did it take me so long to get to this point?” Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way for me to have known much of what I know now way back then? Speed the process along? I realize there are some things that only time and experience can teach you, but there are a lot of other things that you can accelerate in order to get up to speed faster.

This is where the Never Stop Learning mantra comes in. Whether just starting out in your facility management career, learning a new role, or a seasoned veteran, there is always room for learning more. Another relevant saying: Be a sponge. Absorb everything you can.

My recommendation for any industry professional out there is get involved, and stay engaged—whether that is actively or passively. If there are industry associations, join them. If there are conferences or trade shows, attend them. And there are a variety of webinars and courses available to attend, and certifications/designations to be earned. In the facilities industry, we’re fortunate that there’s quite a selection out there to choose from.

Hopefully your organization supports continuing education and budgets for your development and industry involvement. But even if it doesn’t, there are learning opportunities out there that don’t cost anything except your time. There are a substantial number of industry trade magazines, for instance. Subscribe to them.

Networking with industry peers is another terrific opportunity. Certainly, this is easier to do if you belong to an association or can attend conferences or tradeshows. However, those aren’t your only avenues for networking. Use your LinkedIn network to connect with individuals in similar roles as well as those in positions that you’re hoping to grow into. But don’t simply connect with them and that’s the end of it. Have a game plan, know what you are hoping to gain, have a dialogue, and bounce ideas off each other.

Another area of development that I would strongly recommend to anyone is related to self-awareness. There are many different personality types and communication styles, and it’s important for people to understand not just their own but also that of others in their workplace and how to identify them. You may have heard the saying “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” I’ve found that to be very true, and perception is everything.

There are a number of tests available for personality assessments, and I’ve gone through several during my career in facility management. These tests include Myers Briggs and Insights Discovery, to name two of the more well-known. It appears there are several free tests on the Internet if your organization doesn’t provide or perform these in-house, and if you are interested in where you fall.

Understanding your strengths is also valuable. I found it very enlightening to learn what my strengths are, using StrengthsFinder 2.0. And seeing “Achiever,” “Maximizer,” and “Competition” in my list of top five strengths made clear to me my proclivity for continual tweaks to the facilities model and programs I have implemented in my work—never settling and always looking to improve on the last bar that was set.

So, whether it is adding educational knowledge, personal or character development, or enlightening your self-awareness, there are always ways that you can move the ball forward. And yes, it does take time and effort over the status quo, but making a difference doesn’t always come easy. When I am posed with that choice I just refer to our team’s mission statement and one of our six values, which is simply “Be Great”. Do I want to make a difference? Do I want to be innovative? Do I want to create? The answer is Yes! So, there is always that internal voice to remind me… “Don’t Be Good, Be Great!”

professional developmentAs the senior facilities manager for adidas, Beaudoin is based in Portland, OR and manages the retail facilities department responsible for maintaining 235 adidas and Reebok locations in 1.7 million square feet across the United States. Living by a “Never Stop Learning” mantra, he earned the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) RFMP designation in 2007, and also holds an FMA and a LEED Green Associate designation. A member of IFMA and PRSM, Beaudoin has served on numerous committees, published articles and best practices, and networks with peers whenever possible. Voted the 2013 PRSM Retailer of the Year, he was also elected as the 2014-15 PRSM Association President, while serving a three-year term on its Board of Directors. Most recently, Beaudoin was selected as the 2018 Facility Executive of the Year, featured in the February 2018 issue of this magazine.

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