By John Hackston
Facility management is a complex role, and facility managers often need a combination of technical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and commercial know-how to perform their job effectively. So, how can organizations help employees transition into a facility management role? Doing this successfully requires work from both the organization and the individual. Here are some important actions that both parties should undertake:
Facility Management Transition: Actions For The Organization
- Develop a comprehensive and up-to-date job description for the facility manager position. Ideally, do this based on a job analysis in order to objectively evaluate all aspects of the role. This could include techniques such as observing how the role is carried out, interviewing existing holders of the role, their managers and/or their clients, critical incident interviews, or structured job analysis questionnaires.
- Use the job analysis to develop a comprehensive person specification. Having a clear person specification will allow those thinking of transitioning to gain a good appreciation of the attributes they will need in order to become a facility manager. The specification should include not only the skills, qualifications, and experience that an individual will need to carry out the role, but also other human attributes, like personality factors. Many organizations do this by first developing a set of competencies related to the job. In putting together the person specification, it can be tempting to specify a high level of formal qualifications as essential, when, objectively, this may not be so important. Demanding too much here could also indirectly discriminate against particular groups, and make transitioning more difficult for those who have followed a less conventional route to the role.
- Create a realistic job preview. Ideally, make the person specification and other information about facility management roles available to employees. Clearly communicate internal job opportunities in facility management. Make sure that new vacancies are announced, not just quietly added to an existing listing.
- Create opportunities for employees to gain knowledge and experience of facility management. Give employees the opportunity to find out more about this role. Encourage employees to take part in external meetings or conferences. Foster a culture of networking within the organization. Facilitate employees’ skills development via workshops, online courses, or funding for external training programs.
- Identify mentors. Find mentors among existing facility managers, either within your organization or externally. They can share their experience, provide guidance, and offer useful insights and advice.
- Offer rewards. Recognize and reward employees who have successfully transitioned. Consider ways in which it may be appropriate to make this public, to encourage and motivate others who may be considering a change of role.
- Building an encouraging environment. Look to create a supportive environment that encourages and facilitates successful transitions of careers within the same company.
Actions For The Individual
- Learn about facility management. Take advantage of any information provided by your organization and take part in any events or training that is offered. Look to external sources as well. Read industry publications to stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in facility management. Study person specifications and job previews. Establish what qualifications will be needed; a bachelor’s degree in facility management, business administration, engineering, or a related field is likely to help but is not necessarily essential. Find out what experience is needed, and what other attributes will be useful. These may include factors such as communication skills, problem-solving, negotiating, attention to detail, and so on.
- Learn about yourself. Do you have the qualifications, experience, skills, and other attributes need for facility management? Checking qualifications and experience is straightforward, but objectively assessing other attributes is more difficult. Identify skill gaps. Consider completing an interest questionnaires like the Strong Interest Inventory or a developmental personality measures like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment to find out more about yourself.
- Fill in the gaps. Consider obtaining relevant qualifications, or certifications like the Certified Facility Manager (CFM) offered by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). Look to gain experience by working on cross-functional projects involving facilities management, or by taking on a placement, an entry-level role, or an internship. Fill in specific skills gaps via appropriate training or other activities. Network. Join professional organizations and connect with facilities professionals via LinkedIn. Talk to existing facility managers within and outside your current organization. Ideally, seek a mentor who can share their experience, provide guidance, and offer useful insights and advice.
- Actively job search. Build up a resume tailored to facility management. Showcase your achievements and keep adding to them as you build experience. Make it clear within your own organization that you are interested in transitioning to facility management. This could involve talking to your manager, to the HR department, or to others. Keep an eye out for entry-level positions.
Hackston is a chartered psychologist and Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company where he leads the company’s Oxford-based research team. He is a frequent commentator on the effects of personality type on work and life, and has authored numerous studies, published papers in peer-reviewed journals, presented at conferences for organizations such as The British Association for Psychological Type, and has written on various type-related subjects in top outlets such as Harvard Business Review.