Facilities Management – Is it about the people or the profits
Facilities Management is a profession that touches every person in an organization. Our decisions affect employees, customers, productivity, costs, and equipment life. This article is a discussion about the responsibilities – is it about the people or the profits?
My career started with a company that had strong beliefs in education and I was able to build my knowledge by completing in-depth training in a variety of trades. I also had great mentors who showed me how to maintain the building systems for occupant comfort and equipment efficiency. Moving into Facilities Management required new skills and the BOMI FMA course showed me how building design and management can make a difference in comfort, safety, air quality, and energy efficiency. As a facilities manager I maintained the same focus to help people, make workspaces comfortable, improve productivity, respond to problems, while being supportive to the needs of the company. Through the years, I trained in other areas – safety – ergonomics – emergency management – business continuity – etc. The additional skills improved my ability to provide a comfortable workspace, maintain a quality facility while planning for the unknown, and take care of people in an emergency.
I have worked with people who focus on a yearend bonus. They focus on saving money to improve their bonus without regard for people, comfort, or safety. They made decisions based on cost instead of quality and comfort. Amenities like coffee and bottled water were available, or not available, based on what the facility manager wanted. Space temperatures were set based on what they wanted, not employee comfort. They made changes just to prove they had authority. I witnessed friendly, supportive, team oriented conversations change to conversations focused on frustrations and complaints. So much time was wasted, but the facilities manager got a bonus. The company lost sales, productivity, and collaboration for an individual’s personal goal.
As I evaluated the different ways people manage facilities it occurred to me that maybe I was doing it wrong. However, it only took a few minutes for the thought to fade away. Yes, watching the budget is critical but so is energy efficiency and productivity. Facilities Management is not just about an individual; it is about how the company operates, the various space needs, comfort, health, safety, accessibility, etc. When an individual makes decisions that puts their personal needs in front of the employees and company, it casts a negative shadow on facilities management.
I have earned respect because of the way I manage facilities. People also respect and trust me, which is something I cherish. Working with people and understanding what they do is beneficial when making decisions or scheduling work. Allowing a showroom to get too warm or cool can affect how long customers stay. I cross-trained in a kitchen; when the staff asked why, I explained, “I need to know what happens to your job if I don’t do my job. If equipment is down how is your job affected?” Working with people and learning what they do and what is important to them improves my ability to make their workspace better. Also, it is easier to correct safety concerns and plan for the unknown when people know you are there to help.
So, is Facilities Management about the people or the profits? Should our personal gain be a higher priority than employee comfort, collaboration, team spirit, or company success? Who is going to provide a secure workspace and plan for emergencies? The answers are different depending on whom you talk to. It seems to me that the development of the facilities manager is what makes the difference. Often, people get into Facilities Management thinking it is easy, and the pay is better, not realizing it is so important to the overall success of the organization.