What is a Facility Manager?

January 26, 2016


What is a Facility Manager?

When you talk to friends and family about being a facility manager, have you ever struggled to describe what you do?

Don’t worry if you had to think about it for a few moments. The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) defines it as a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.

Indeed, the allure and challenge of facilities management is in its complexity. Facilities management is a multifaceted vocation that requires a broad knowledge about a diverse array of functions that touch everyone who works in a building.

Plus, that list of core competencies of a facility manager, according to a 2009 global task analysis by the IFMA, is a long one that includes technology, property management, operations and maintenance, project management and emergency preparedness and business continuity.

In fact, the purpose of our ongoing series of leadership blog posts is to identify some of the “soft” skills — from leadership to financial wizardry to human factors such as mentoring — that will prepare you to succeed in this profession.

Mastering them can help you ride the constant winds of change that are pushing facilities management beyond its comfort zone into innovative areas such as the convergence of facilities, workplace and technology services, says Maureen Ehrenberg, IFMA first chair and international director of global integrated facility management for Chicago-based JLL.

However, to do so means changing the perception of facilities management, according to Redefining the Executive View of Facility Management, a white paper written by Richard Kadzis with IFMA in partnership with JLL (a free download).

Many executives occupying the C-suite believe facilities management is merely a support function whose primary benefit is cost savings, and nothing more, according to the white paper.

Moreover, the facility manager faces the stigma of being perceived as a “glorified custodian,” a label that prevents many from being where they really belong: In the C-suite, working with executives on strategies that provide benefits for the entire enterprise.

To achieve that goal, facility managers must shift those C-suite perceptions by getting their own houses in order. Some suggestions made in the IFMA white paper:

  • Incorporating the hallmarks of high-performance FM management.
  • Using innovative technology solutions to collect real-time data and key analytics.
  • Mastering soft skills that will hone a facility manager’s ability to communicate effectively with business leaders.

The good news: Embracing and managing change is part of any capable facility manager’s DNA.

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For assistance with facilities management in your operation, contact Vanguard Resources.