Facilities Managers: How Effectively Do You Communicate?

April 28, 2015

Facilities Managers: How Effectively Do You Communicate

Precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair trigger balances, when a false or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act. James Thurber

No doubt, managing change and growing leaders are essential skills facilities managers need to be successful.

Yet, these very important skills, critical as they are to getting things done, mean almost nothing if you’re unable to communicate directly and effectively with your staff.

Talk is easy and cheap, but getting the points across that you need to make effectively and carefully, as celebrated author and satirist James Thurber points out in the quote above, takes a lot of work.

Fortunately, you’ll have many opportunities to work with your facilities management team, with the help of these common sense tips.

1. Don’t talk. Listen actively.

Yes, it sounds counterintuitive to be discussing better communications skills, while urging you to be quiet… But that’s the point.

To be a better communicator and decision-maker, you need to listen more effectively and actively to what your team is saying directly to you.

Experts estimate the nonverbal side of effective communication — physical movements, eye contact, posture and attentiveness — accounts for up to 85 percent of how well we communicate as human beings.

If you’re questioning that estimate, pay close attention to your co-workers the next time you have a staff meeting. Do co-workers make eye contact with you and ask pertinent questions, or are they looking down blankly at their notepads?

2. Resist the temptation to over-communicate with your team.

Are you so concerned about your staff knowing as much as you do about a given task or operation that you share too much?

Considering all of the messages you and your co-workers hear every day, the act of over-communicating may force them to tune you out.

Focus on telling them as much as they need to know to make informed decisions about given tasks in a concise manner, and no more than that.

3. Recognize and practice on the various styles in which people communicate with you best.

After you’ve begun to master your listening skills and resist over-communicating, you’ll probably realized that not everyone on your team communicates the same way.

Some team members may need their hands held throughout the entire process, while others just want you to point them in the right direction, and then get out of their way while they work on the project.

Understanding and respecting how others communicate by speaking to them in “their language” helps you become a better manager too. Assigning folks to the right projects, not only based on their expertise but their individual communication style, can be a win-win for your team and department.

4. Are you marketing your facilities management department?

Fact is, a lot of facilities managers still believe the less seen of them and what their staffs do is a good sign of a well-run department.

Unfortunately, following that strategy shuts down communication and creates a level of invisibility that doesn’t serve you or your department very well, said Bert Gumeringer, director of facilities operations and security services at Texas Children’s Hospital to Building Operating Management.

How does your department get the recognition and the resources it needs if you’re not marketing what they do as valuable assets to your clients and upper management?

No one can communicate the value your team brings to your facility or your clients better than you can.

There is a payoff for mastering these communications skills beyond getting the job done right at your facility, according to experts at the American Management Association.

Using these skills effectively improves a facility manager’s likelihood of being promoted, as better communication helps leadership and collaborative skills stand out.

Look for more suggestions on improving your communications skills by subscribing to our Facebook and Twitter feeds that are frequently updated each week.

For guidance on using better communications skills at your facility, contact Vanguard Resources.