facilities manager

Moving up from supervisor to facilities manager

Climbing the corporate ladder comes with reality checks to consider
Friday, May 12, 2017
By Marcia O'Connor

So a facilities management supervisor wants to make the move to facilities manager. Supervisors who have been working in their role for many years may feel they have offered all they can in this position, and wonder whether a manager job is for them.

Begin by understanding that being a manager isn’t a popularity contest. Being a manager means more responsibility and work, being open to new ideas, listening and leading others to achieve the goals of the FM department and the company.

Here is a list of reality checks to think about before moving up the FM ladder:

Co-workers become direct reports

Everyone comes to supervisors with their issues and concerns to bring to management. Once supervisors step over the management line, it’s not that they can’t be friendly, but they need to realize that “coffee breaks will not be with the group” — their job is to manage, direct, make decisions and achieve results that some co-workers will not always appreciate. Supervisors need to consider whether they’re ready to accept this change.

It may require a skills upgrade

Before applying for the position, does the supervisor need extra training? Can the supervisor produce a business plan or an operating budget? Can the supervisor demonstrate his or her ability to work to deadlines? Managers work closely with people on their team, assigning them work and ensuring they get appropriate training to do their jobs. The manager puts the strategy in place to achieve the team’s vision and missions by planning ahead and looking at the bigger picture.

Effective communication is critical

Can the supervisor clearly communicate with customers, the facilities management department and the senior management team? Can the supervisor clearly define his or her new role as the team’s facilities manager as well the department’s mandate and each team member’s individual role in the department, job responsibilities and job outcome?

The transition to this new role

Will the supervisor be able to rally his or her co-workers in the role of manager and show them that they need to work with the manager as a team member? The role of manager rather than co-worker is important to understand. New managers need to initiate a smooth transition and establish their staff’s trust. Supervisors need to consider whether they’ll be able to balance the needs of the staff versus the needs of management.

Supervisors who have all this to offer, are not afraid to make change and achieve results with a healthy work ethic and team management, should make the leap.

After answering ‘yes’ to these questions, supervisors should begin to explore ways to set themselves apart professionally. They should begin by updating their resume to include current roles and responsibilities. In many organizations, the role of a supervisor overlaps with many of the responsibilities for which a manager could be responsible. Supervisors can look up a job description for a facilities manager and see how many of those duties they are currently doing in their role.

There are several steps aspiring managers can take to build their professional FM resources and network and strengthen their competencies. One is to join professional associations such as the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) or Facility Asset Management and Office Space Network (FAMOS). Another one is to participate in educational sessions offered outside of the workplace, by colleges, universities, or training companies. In addition to the one-off courses and workshops that are available, supervisors can expand their knowledge base by attaining a professional designation such as IFMA’s Certified Facility Manager (CFM) or Facility Management Professional (FMP).

Marcia O’Connor is the managing director of AM/FM Facilities Management and Education Services. She trains FM Managers across Canada through the University of Toronto and her company’s education offerings to raise the bar in the FM profession.

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