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Tips for First Time Facility Managers

In an ideal world, there are no leaky roofs, clogged washbasins or faulty air conditioning units. In the real world, every company has to deal with these repairs consistently.

These needed repairs make the job of facility management challenging — you need to have the right tools and people to respond to issues quickly. As a facility manager, you must understand your building’s requirements and the maintenance resources at your disposal.

  1. Know Your Team

The most important resource you have is your maintenance team. You want to assign a person who will yield good results at a low cost for many situations.

If a roof-repair job is needed, you want to know if one employee is better at shingle replacement or fixing leaky roofs than the other. This information is what your roof-repairs team should have, too — you can assign a roof-repairs team leader, who can autonomously make the individual assignment.

You, therefore, need to know your team well and encourage your crew to get to know each other. To accomplish this, regular team meetings that foster discussion become crucial. As your staff becomes better acquainted with one another, they can quickly pick up tasks that need to be completed.

During team meetings, focus on factors not usually showcased. For instance, hold a dialogue on best practices for improving team morale and making your maintenance team’s servicing jobs more efficient.

Offer food and drinks as incentives — nothing inspires meetings like freebies. This simple tip thus becomes an integrated platform for team-building activities.

  1. Purge Junk

This step is not something to undertake just for the sake of it. If you are starting a new job where the last facility manager exited early — or if maintenance folks are leaving rapidly — consider cleaning out excess files and physical items that may take up too much space.

Junk builds up. If the signs of buildup are significant, your decision is easy — clear out the excess immediately. The tricky decision is when excessive items or paperwork are not immediately helpful but could soon become so. Such cases require you to call a team meeting and propose a clean-up. You may need to convince a few subordinates to be reluctant to sort through and toss outdated equipment, but this is part of your job.

Keep the finance department in the loop of any upcoming across-the-board maintenance costs. As a facility manager, you have the solid argument that prevention is less costly than replacement.

  1. Collaborate with Others

There is just too much to remember for one single person with facilities, no matter how superhuman you might think you are. This factor is why when a serious facilities situation does occur, there’s a couple of things you can and should do: speak to members who have been around longer than you, and consider talking with your predecessor.

You may receive helpful ideas you can incorporate into your current system. Don’t hesitate to delegate tedious tasks to valued team members.

  1. Go Digital

Ditch paperwork and go digital — that is today’s maintenance mantra. Paperwork is prone to error, cannot easily be stored for a long duration, and is nearly impossible to refer to in the future meaningfully.

Emphasizing the importance of specialized software to streamline facilities management can’t be overdone. Modern facility management revolves around computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. CMMS allows you multiple benefits not available via human memory alone — tracking assets, scheduling preventive maintenance, recording hardware faults, and performance of responding personnel. If your company does not already have a good CMMS suite, getting and using one should be an immediate priority.

  1. Communicate

Much of maintenance is communication — passing requests and information along a pipeline. Three channels must always remain open: you and your manager; you and your subordinates; your team and employees outside the maintenance team. That last channel helps any work order related to your profile get through to you at the earliest.

Open lines of communication provide multiple benefits. You can stop alarms from turning into burns. You also become a point of trust for other team members and employees outside the team. Check out this Forbes article to gain further insight into the virtues of communication.

Improved Systems Yield Improved Teams

Always remember: modern-day facility management is a science in its own right. This science derives from principles of communication, technology, and organization. Of course, the principles and the software help only if you have the proper maintenance staff and complete systems.