Can Human Resources Managers perform Facilities Management Functions?

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This is not a rhetorical question or a trick question. This paper attempts to answer this question in a balanced way by considering the relevance and key requirements of delivering facilities management services within an organization.

Within many countries throughout the world, the Facilities Management (FM) function is accountable to the Human Resources (HR) function where HR Managers are responsible for the outcomes of FM services and managing FM delivery within organizations. This means that they are responsible for budget control, compliance and performance.

I have worked with, and for many organizations where the FM function reports into various departments and I guess the question in this instance should, therefore, be ‘Are HR Managers (or any manager as the case may be) aware of the risks, opportunities and value of FM to a business?

Referring to the original question, the question can be broken down into two parts:

  • Do HR Managers have the necessary experience, knowledge, skills and judgment to become effective FM Managers?
  • Do HR Managers have sufficient time to combine the HR and FM Management roles effectively?

Before answering either of these questions it is important to consider and understand the context of FM within an organization.

Facilities Management is an organizational function which integrates people, space and processes with the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business. (ISO 41011:2017)

Furthermore, FM or otherwise described as the ‘non-core’ function within an organization often accounts for circa 25% of an organization’s costs, second, only to salaries and perhaps IT.

It is therefore imperative that the FM function can adequately ensure the value and effectiveness of the many wide-ranging aspects that it serves and is responsible for and of course, whether there is sufficient time to do the job properly and sufficient resources allocated.

Anyone can, in theory, become a good FM Manager, it is not ‘rocket science’  and plenty of training is available to attain the technical knowledge and skills required from such organizations as IFMA (https://www.ifma.org/) and ProFM (https://www.profmi.org/).

The real question should be ‘Does someone demonstrate the right behaviours and values to become a good FM? And this is more aligned with the traits of a good manager and even leaders as the FM function will inevitably be responsible for managing a number of resources, usually a combination of in-house or outsourced suppliers.

The key skills and traits required to become an effective and proficient FM Manager include, but are not limited to:

Key Considerations

  • Strategic thought and planning
  • Leadership
  • Communication and influencing skills (for teams and projects)
  • Team player
  • Delegation
  • Motivational
  • Customer awareness
  • Collaborative approach
  • Decision making
  • Etiquette and professionalism
  • Commercial awareness
  • Analytical and problem solving
  • Clear awareness and understanding of FM

Indeed, the above characteristics are a pre-requisite to satisfy the requirements of arguably, the most important FM standard, ISO 41001 – Facility management – management systems. The traits of a good manager are therefore recognized for within the profession and industry.

To take this to another level, it is true to say that if an FM excels, through constantly displaying the above virtues, they can also become great leaders. I am a firm believer in succession planning and so there is no reason why good FM Managers cannot go on to become leaders within their organization.

It is, however, important to understand the difference between a leader and a boss.

At middle to senior management level, a manager, responsible for managing people and resources will also demonstrate the of a leader or a boss. These are quite different and are shown on the next page.

The traits of leadership and management – good and bad are loosely demonstrated below:

Good Leader

  • Willing to learn
  • Walks the talk
  • Seeks solutions
  • Encourages
  • Highlights strengths
  • Coaches
  • Team-focus
  • Takes responsibility
  • Inspires performance
  • Rewards

Poor Boss

  • Knows it all
  • Talks the walk
  • Gives answers
  • Takes credit or criticises
  • Highlights weaknesses
  • Directs
  • Self-focus
  • Blames others
  • Demands results
  • Penalises

If someone demonstrates the traits of a good manager and a good leader then they can become competent and effective FM Managers with a little training as they will know how the FM function should be seen as a strategic, value added function within an organization and not consider FM merely as a commodity, where the costs must always be kept as low as possible. In this regard, FM is about achieving ‘best value’ and not ‘lowest cost’. Hopefully, the answers to the question can be found in this paper

Facilities management has given me a great career over 30 years, and I would not have had it any other way.

The profession and industry need good Facilities Managers, regardless of business sector type, geography or any other possible influencing factor. Wherever there are buildings and people, there is a need for FM.

The profession also requires excellent leaders in order to propel the industry forward and to ensure that it delivers best value solutions, strategic support and high performance to inspire and ensure the success and prosperity of the core business.

As with other professions and functions within an organization, required to support the business the traits of good FMs will be the defining factors that will be a major influencing factor on how successful the business can be.

It should also certainly not be demoted as a sub-function of another organizational function. Real Estate and Facilities Management certainly warrants a place on the Executive Board.

Evbex, with 30 years of knowledge and experience in the industry, provides training and workshops that guide non-FM managers to gaining an understanding of the FM function and its value to the business in which it supports.

The course covers 30 years of knowledge and expertise in the industry, and the content typically includes:

  • An introduction to Facilities Management; what it covers and the key aspects, including the key service elements of maintenance, cleaning, security etc.
  • Experience, skills and characteristics of Facilities Management and Facilities Managers
  • Issues and challenges faced by Facilities Managers
  • The latest thinking, trends and opportunities
  • International Global FM Standards & the key elements of ISO 41001
  • How to effectively measure Facilities Management to deliver optimum results

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