7 Unforgettable Facility Management Work Ethics I learned From My Best Bosses Ever
Here are the work ethics of Facility Management that I learned from my best bosses ever.
Facility management is the kind of job that changes you.
Stay in it and practice it long enough and it will mold you. It will affect the way you think, the way you talk, the way you handle life’s ups and downs, and the way you relate with people.
In the course of my career, I believe I was truly blessed to have worked with some of the most intelligent, morally sound, and hard working bosses anyone could wish for. These men and women helped me identify the moral principles I would need to successfully perform my job no matter what position I held.
Whether I was leading a team of 40 or a team of 3, by observing my past bosses at work, they instilled in me the work ethics that I believe no facility manager can survive for long without.
Of course there were times I disagreed with them. I felt they were being difficult, or they didn’t understand my point of view when I wanted to take short cuts to “just get the job done.”
When I didn’t get my way I would whine, complain, try to give excuses, kick up a discreet fuss, and ultimately sulk to myself for a while (one of my bosses in particular became very good at ignoring me during one of my sulking episodes).
But I always lost steam fast because I knew they were right.
I guess they must have seen something in me that was worth refining because they kept at it, teaching and leading me.
So, to my past bosses, here are the work ethics you taught me and that have guided me to date.
I won’t be mentioning any names but if you’re reading this you’ll probably know when I’m talking about you.
1) Value for Human Life: Safety First
If you have to choose between risking a life and completing a task, suspend the task.
No matter how urgent the task at hand have you assessed the risk to the people that will be completing the job? Do you even know the risks involved?
If safety is so expensive and you decide to cut costs, can it replace just one human life that is lost in your premises?
My boss always told us that he dreads the day he would have to pick up the phone to call some spouse, partner, or child to tell them that their loved one will not be coming back home because they lost their life while trying to perform a task.
Think about it.
2) Integrity: Deliver what you promised.
Never make promises you can’t keep and if you happen to make a promise make sure you deliver.
I really struggled with this when I started my first job overseeing a facility. Not that I intended to mislead anyone but I was so eager and excited to have this interesting new job that I was always so quick to promise residents one thing or the other without checking if the resources were available to deliver.
You can imagine that I got into quite a few uncomfortable situations that taught me the hard way. Luckily, at this point in time I was not yet directly in charge of the premises and my immediate supervisor swooped in and helped quench a couple of fires on my behalf.
But I learned fast after a couple of very sharp verbal reprimands never to make promises till I was sure I could keep them.
Integrity should apply to your relationship with clients, your colleagues, and everyone else you meet in your life’s journey.
3) Honesty: The client must hear bad news from you first.
Despite our best efforts and plans, things can and will go wrong from time to time.
Now you’ve gone ahead and made an agreement to deliver so and so at a particular time. Then something goes wrong and this task is just not going to happen today or even tomorrow.
What do you do?
Well, you are allowed a few minutes to catch a breather and hold your head in dismay but that’s really all the time you have. Quickly pick up the phone and let your client know there will be a delay. If possible, meet with them in person when you break the news.
I have seen over time that though clients can be livid and even verbally abusive over the phone when they are disappointed, they tend to be calmer when you take the time to explain to them in person.
Personally, as a rule of thumb, I don’t break very bad news to clients over the phone if I can get to them physically.
4) Accountability for your team: No one gets left behind
The very nature of facility management makes you one part of a whole. Just as the steering wheel in a vehicle is important, so also is the fuel tank, the tires, and even the tiny little wiper.
No matter how skilled you are, you can’t run the entire property yourself. That means you must work with other people.
But working with other people = taking on their strengths and weaknesses.
So what happens when that mason or that plumber makes a mistake that negatively affects all the hard work of the rest of the team?
Do you get to blame them, fire them, and go back to your desk smelling like roses? No way!
Because guess what? The next person that replaces them may not make a mistake today, tomorrow, or even this year but it will happen. Will you repeat the process and kick them out out again?
You cannot detach yourself from the mistakes of your team members.
Instead take the time to own their mistakes with a view to correcting them and helping them to do better in the future. If the mistakes from one particular person becomes too frequent sit with them. Find out what is going on.
And you must get your team to deliver results without micromanaging them.
Sounds tough right?
This is one of the reasons why it is so important that the people you work with understand the scope of work and know how to use the tools and other resources at their disposal.
Your inability to be accountable for the actions of your team means you will fail miserably at this job.
5) Listen and Observe: Actions and words
Have you ever walked into a meeting and you just feel this air of unease in the room? I know I have several times.
The staff sit huddled together, staring at a suddenly very interesting but invisible dot on the floor, and mumbling among themselves.
Usually this kind of thing happens when something has just gone wrong and I call for a meeting. My team memebers are on edge because they sense that I’m upset with them. They are expecting me to yell or tell someone off in very strong terms.
Trust me at such times the urge to raise my voice and just blame everyone else and move on is strong but I avoid that because it will not solve the problem at hand. Instead, I ask them to offer a solution and no one leaves the room until we come up with a workable plan.
No matter what your emotions are saying, you need to take time to listen and try to understand the point of view of the other person even if it sounds absolutely ridiculous at first. Even when they’re are not speaking, their actions or body language can tell you a lot and let you know if they are still hiding something.
You will be surprised to find that one of your group has a solution to the issue at hand or even another lingering maintenance problem but has been shy or afraid to speak up all along.
6) Be Proactive: Take charge before it blows out of proportion
Physical inspections are key to success in facility management. There is no way around this. Computer-aided facility management systems help you plan schedules for maintenance, testing, and so on but physical inspection will help you quickly notice problems before they escalate.
Are you keeping tabs on your critical services? Have you even identified them in the first place?
When last did you have a safety audit on the facility?
Do you allow for timely feedback from other members of your team? Do you investigate and take action on such information?
No matter how many staff you have working under you, take time to walk around the facility at intervals. You may spot something everyone else overlooked because they’ve been seeing it everyday.
As a bonus, walking around is good for your health anyway.
7) Humility: Never Get Tired Of Learning
Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask questions. Ask questions if you are unsure about how to proceed. Ask questions to learn new things.
Ask your team members about their jobs. Ask them how they do what they do. I find that people are usually happy to share information about their work.
Ask for help. If you are struggling with something speak up on time.
Ask for advice from your colleagues and superiors.
Read, read, and then read some more about facility management. There are so many resources out there to choose from whether in the form of hard-copy books, e-books, websites, trade magazines, and blogs.
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