Pitfall #1: NOT Using High Quality Vendors
Do not settle for the lowest estimate or the cheapest price. The lowest estimate or the cheapest price is not usually the best option. You most certainly will always get what you pay for and when your job is to make high-level decisions, do not make the mistake of betting on the low bid. If you need help, find a consultant to assist you in finding the right vendors. Finding the vendor that can provide a fair price and a high level of service is essential. Often times, facilities professionals’ careers are made or ruined based on the vendors they choose to hire. Executives expect you to be smart with your budget dollars and get the most out of them. You CAN get the 'right' price out of your quality vendors. Remember: quality vendors = quality work = quality results.
Pitfall #2: Making Everyone Happy
As a facilities professional, you know that your job is rarely appreciated for the job that you do on a day-to-day basis. Don't expect a pat on the back every day for a job well done. Most of you will go about your daily routine without so much as a thank you. The best facilities professionals go through their careers virtually unnoticed by those that work in the building. Running a smooth operation requires an enormous amount of time, energy and support from your staff. Spend less time trying to make everyone happy and focus on performing at an excellent level every day.
Pitfall #3: Trying to Make the Budget Perfect
Keep track of your invoices on a daily or weekly basis. You must know where your budget dollars are being spent. Your direct reports will want to know that you have a handle on your budget on a regular basis. In a facility large or small - stuff happens. And it usually happens when you least expect it and costs more that you think. There will always be an emergency, a failure, a problem and you will need to plan for these contingencies. Put extra dollars in your budget for contingencies. Plan on roughly 5-10%, depending on the area of the budget. Do not make the mistake of thinking these issues won't happen to you. They will and if you don't plan for them, your budget will suffer. Some companies will not approve a budget without knowing where every dollar will be spent. Explain the contingencies. Let your company know that you are being proactive and accounting for these shortfalls so that you don't have to come to them in case of an emergency. Better to budget the money up front than have to find it later. Think of it this way: if you are always trying to make ends meet and complaining because there's not enough money in the budget - the budget was not well thought out and it creates more grief than necessary. Your company executives do not want to hear that you can't work within the budget. They want you to plan for and budget all expenses, including contingencies. This is expected of all facilities professionals.
Pitfall #4: Having Low Expectations of Your Staff
Expect excellence from your staff. Personally teach them how you want the job done. Stop expecting someone else to train them for you. If you teach them, instead of one of your staff, they will be given specific instructions and have an understanding of what is expected instead of 'this is how we have always done things here'. Expect more out of your staff and hold them to their job responsibilities. Give your staff more than they can handle each day. Push them towards excellence. Don't confuse this with overwhelming them with work. Give them what they can handle and then just a bit more. Invest in your staff and provide them with extra training. They will need training beyond what you can give them. It will be budget dollars well spent. Soon, they will learn what they are truly capable of and exceed your expectations. Leaders bring their staff to places they would not otherwise go. Keep challenging your staff with higher goals and higher expectations. If you have trained them properly and pushed them towards excellence, they will not let you down.
Pitfall #5: You Can Trust Everyone and Speak Freely Around the Office
I know many facilities executives and managers who no longer have a job because they confided in the wrong person within their company or network. Find a mentor or someone outside your company and network and talk to them about the issues that you are facing in general terms. Avoid too many specifics, such as employee names or companies. Ask yourself “Whom can I trust?” The answer may be no one. Eliminate the gossip. While gossip makes us feel as though we are bonding with others or that we can obtain information no one else has - it can be dangerous to those around you and ultimately to your career. Do not be the 'source' of the gossip. Watch what you say, who you say it to and what you do each day. You never know who is watching. You make impressions each day. Make sure they are the right impressions. Be mindful of the words you use with your staff. You do not need to be their friend, just friendly. Understand those who work for you will talk about you and some of them are part of the gossip chain. It's just a fact of life. Remember: what you say will always, in one form or another, get back to the company executives. Make it count.
Pitfall #6: What Other Don't Know Won't Hurt Them
Honesty truly is the best policy. As a facilities manager and an integral part of your company's day-to-day operations, you must carry a high level of integrity. Do not be dishonest - it will always come back to bite you. Walk the walk and talk the talk. If you don't, your employer will find someone that will. Keep this in mind: people are always watching you to see how you will handle any and all situations. When your boss calls you in to discuss something, remember they will almost always know the truth and want to hear what you have to say. So tell the truth. Those who don’t can be terminated on the spot.
Avoiding these 6 pitfalls and misconceptions will help you solidify a long-term career in facilities management.
(Anderson Facilities Group, in addition to facilities management consulting, offers project management, vendor/ partner strategies and facilities maintenance solutions. Visit their website at www.AndersonFacilitiesGroup.com.)