6 Ways to Build Your Facilities Management Legacy

Facilities management departments do a lot of planning. Maintenance schedules, office moves, seasonal tasks – the list is endless. Planning for FM personnel succession is often low on the priority list, but a change in a key position can disrupt all the other carefully-crafted facilities plans. Writing in FacilitiesNet.com, David Lewellen offers 6 strategies for developing FM teams and planning for succession.

  1. Think strategically – evaluate the talent pool, identify training or experience gaps in likely successors, and get the right players in the right positions.
  2. Develop a structure – create advancement opportunities, set up training programs, and identify potential leaders.
  3. Open doors to the future – systematically encourage professional development and cross-training as well as education outside the organization.
  4. Don’t wait – the baby boom generation has reached retirement age, and now is the time to develop replacement talent before all that accumulated management wisdom leaves.
  5. Understand new demands – facilities management becomes more multi-disciplinary every year, and technical expertise must be combined with solid business and people skills.
  6. Don’t forget the trades – as skilled tradespeople become ever-more scarce, look to ex-military personnel for experienced techs, and develop training programs for unskilled workers.

Facilities management has evolved as a profession, and organizations are recognizing the value that a strong, stable FM department brings to the success of overall operations. A sound succession plan adds to that value and ensures the future of the department.


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6 Team-Building Tips for the Collaborative Workplace

Today’s workplace designs emphasize collaborative spaces – flexible, reconfigurable work areas where staffers come together as a team to address specific tasks. Leading a collaborative team takes some special skills; without them, the best results are hard to achieve, no matter how well-designed the collaborative space may be. Management advisor Tallyfox.com offers these six insights to help build a collaborative team environment:

  1. Set realistic expectations. Clearly communicate the team’s goals, the individual members’ roles, and the reason for the team’s existence.
  2. Build strong leadership. Leaders who are flexible, supportive, and focus on relationships as well as tasks, will produce great results.
  3. Create an environment of trust. Respect and integrity are essential to building trust among all team members.
  4. Support a community spirit. Opportunities for team members to socialize informally outside work will foster a cohesive “family” feeling.
  5. Invest in team members’ skills and expertise. Continuing education supports continuous improvement and makes team members feel valued and valuable. Knowledgeable teams are more productive.
  6. Invest in collaborative technology. Streamlined communications support all of the team-building tips above. Collaborative technology can be electronic devices or specialized software. It can also be adaptive office furniture that facilitates face-to-face interactions, while allowing for a quick change to individual task execution. Whatever form it takes, collaborative technology is vital to a smoothly functioning team.

If you’re adopting a collaborative management style in your business, talk to a design expert about finding the right collaborative technology for your business.


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A Better Filing System to Increase “Me” Time

Most of us want better work-life balance, and most of us feel we are failing miserably. Time management is key to work-life balance, and office organization is a big part of the “work” side of the work-life equation.

Royale Scuderi, writing in Lifehack.org, gives tips for organizing your office to give yourself more lifestyle time. A few of the tips:

  1. Purge your office of furnishings, equipment, and documents that are non-functional. When was the last time you used that 20-year-old fax machine?
  2. Set up a streamlined filing system that gives you good proximity and access to items you need frequently, and archive less-used items further away. Does that secret-Santa file need to be on your desk year-round?
  3. Create a meeting folder containing all the items needed for a meeting, and a Waiting-On-Response folder for actions you need to follow up on. You’ll stay on top of activities without last-minute panics.
  4. Sort through your mail the minute it arrives, and sort it for action: read, delegate, file, act on, or toss. No need to hold on to that year-old catalog!
  5. File weekly, to keep the desktop piles manageable.

Scuderi emphasizes that you can treat your organizational changes as an ongoing project. You don’t have to devote 24/7 to getting organized – and that certainly fits in well with the philosophy of work-life balance!

We’ll add another tip of our own: A space-efficient high density storage system will help you streamline your filing. Take a look at how one space-challenged organization used high density storage:


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How Office Clutter Affects Your Creativity

A recent study by Kathleen Vohs at the University of Minnesota discovered that messiness may actually assist the creative process. Disordered spaces seem to encourage people to think outside the box. In direct contrast is author Marie Kondo’s recommendation that you throw out anything you don’t absolutely love – minimize to the max. Can your office find a middle ground between stifling tidiness and creative disorder?

Organizational expert Brooks Palmer says it comes down to definition: Clutter amounts to the things we keep on our desks that do not serve us – for example, papers or equipment we don’t currently need. He suggests that his clients assess whether each item is something positive. Is it something needed for the task at hand? Is it something for emotional uplift (a birthday party hat, a photograph)? Or is it something that’s been there so long it has become part of the background – negative, because it doesn’t serve the task at hand. If the item isn’t positive, then dispose of it. If it will be needed in the future, store it appropriately.

Palmer’s approach doesn’t advocate minimalism or arranging your books in alphabetical order. Messiness is fine, as long as everything in the mess serves you for the current task. Let the disorder spur your creativity, and talk to a consultant about a high-density storage system for all the “clutter” you need to save for the next task.


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Facilities Manager or Hostage Negotiator

“Shark Tank” uber-shark Kevin O’Leary said it: “So much of life is a negotiation.” Perhaps you chose a career in facilities management because you’re more comfortable dealing with buildings than with people. But buildings house people, and sooner or later, any facilities manager is going to have to deal with the human factor. Whether you’re discussing the acquisition of a secure high density storage system or simply trying to change a few light bulbs in someone’s office, you can find yourself facing a hostile personality. How do you negotiate to get what you need while keeping everyone happy?

Consultant Andy Raskin recommends getting the contentious parties to the point of “that’s right.” He cites the work of former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, who ran high-profile negotiations in hot spots like Iraq and Colombia. Voss is particularly skilled at active listening – reflecting back a speaker’s words to create affirmation and stimulate them to continue the dialogue. Voss found that when active listeners acknowledged the emotions underlying their opponent’s position, the hardliners felt that their concerns had been heard and understood – a “that’s right” moment. And from that point of respect and understanding, negotiations could be resolved easily.

It’s a technique that works in business life as well as international relations. The next time you’re facing a difficult negotiation, try the active listening style Andy Raskin discusses in his Medium blog. You may find that your proposal is swiftly granted.


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Keep Your (Workplace) Options Open

Choice – it’s what employees want in their workplace environments. Businesses that build flexibility into the workplace are able to hire and retain top talent, and keep productivity at a high level. Choices can take a variety of forms, from flex hours to telecommuting to benefits. Offering tangible choices is a big part of the equation, too; creating a physical workplace that people are happy to come to on a Monday morning is every bit as important as a good 401K.

Old-school cube farms and new-style open plans can both be inflexible in their own ways. By using well-designed modular casework and reconfigurable workspaces, facilities managers can easily add choices to office environments, creating an adaptable balance between open and closed workspaces. Modular, reconfigurable workspaces are re-arranged as choices shift. Work “zones” for privacy or collaboration let employees choose which kind of environment they need for maximum productivity at any given time.

Writing in Facilities.Net, Naomi Millan states, “space is not a one-size fits all proposition.” In the choice-oriented workplace, the commitment is to employees, not to the built environment. The result is a happy, productive team and a successful business.

How are you adding flexibility to your workplace? Share your story with us, and we’ll share some insider tips we’ve learned from our experience as storage consultants.


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Still Using Paper in Your Business? Manage the Risks

In the mid-90’s, management experts predicted the end of paper. Twenty years later, we’re using more paper than ever. Do paper files put your business at risk?

The American Forest and Paper Association cites a number of reasons for the continued demand for paper documents:

  • No paper document has ever been hacked by a computer virus.
  • Paper documents are readable without electricity or internet service.
  • Without ongoing maintenance, digital storage media degrades much faster than well-stored paper (the oldest papyrus in existence dates to 2600 B.C.).

While there are indisputably good reasons for continuing to use paper, there are also risks. Medical records, legal strategies, proprietary business documents – if not securely stored, these papers can create some serious problems for your business, as discussed by Eric Savitz in this story for Forbes Magazine.

With a well-designed high density storage system, you can have your paper and save on space too – the best of both worlds. Consult with your storage professional to learn how it’s done.


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Your Business: What’s Sports Got To Do With It?

The U.S. is filled with sports fans of every kind. Business managers know the value of sports as a team-building exercise, but sports offers bigger lessons to those who lead the team. The careers and work habits of some of the greatest sports stars provide a template for those who seek to lead successfully. CleverTap CMO Mark Freidberg, writing in Entrepreneur Magazine, lists five ways some of his most admired sports legends serve as models for sound business practices, including:

  1. Michael Jordan – Make other people better. When the ones you lead improve their performance, everyone wins.
  2. Magic Johnson – Enjoy what you do. If you’re happy with your career, you’ll be a better leader.
  3. Jerry Rice – Practice like you play. Give it your best every day, not just the important days.
  4. Wayne Gretzky – Be forward-thinking. Watch for industry directions and trends that can give you an edge.
  5. Jackie Robinson – Change history. Business as usual isn’t always a long-term formula for success.

Business leaders who are dedicated to continuous improvement and effective leadership can take a lesson from these sports greats and lift their own teams to greatness. What are the sports principles you use to guide your business?


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You May Think You’re a Facilities Manager, But…

No matter what your job description is, you’re in sales. Sure, you studied construction management or engineering, but if you’re a facilities manager, sooner or later you’ll find yourself selling a proposal to the people who sign off on your budget.

Some sales are easier than others. An impressive new building or a news-worthy green initiative gives your bosses a chance to shine in the public eye. It’s tougher to get funding for less visible, tangible projects. Writing in Facilities Maintenance Decisions, Dan Hounsell suggests creating a “marketing plan” for your low-profile projects. He offers 4 starting points for creating such a plan, using the example of one of the least glamorous aspects of FM: deferred maintenance.

Hounsell recommends emphasizing (1) long-term cost savings; (2) sustainability; (3) job creation/retention; and (4) responsible management. Cost savings in particular can be a deciding factor, and a well-presented case for “spend a little now, save a lot later” can produce a quick approval.

These selling points are effective for any proposed expenditures that lack a “glam factor,” such as better spare parts management, or (dare we say) new storage systems. Give this marketing plan a try on your next budget request, and let us know the results!


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RFID – The Key To Great Customer Service

Who hasn’t lost their keys at one time or another? For rental-car agency Sixt, headquartered in Germany, lost car keys were driving customers away. Having to wait while keys were located for a specific vehicle was a major source of frustration for customers and employees alike. And the frustration didn’t stop there. Customers who disputed rental return times had no proof to back up their arguments. Employees who were told a car was ready for rental would often find that it was still being washed. No one was happy.

Sixt decided to try an innovative application of RFID, using UHF RFID tags on the vehicles’ key fobs. The RFID tags showed exactly where the keys were stored; they recorded check-out and check-in times; they could even track a car through the cleaning process. And the results? Customer complaints have dropped by 30%. Just as important, according to Alexander Boone, Sixt’s head of project and innovation management, employees are much happier. “The happiness of the employees at the branch has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.” Read the full story here at RFIDjournal.com: http://bit.ly/1u76FHt


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