Learning Impact: The Facilities Manager as an Extension of the Educator
By Dan Ringo
In today’s educational setting facility managers should be seen as an extension of the primary educator. The FM in-charge and their ability to perform their duties create the greatest impact on the student’s learning environment and subsequently help schools retain and attain their learners.
The key to successful facilities management operations remains with the FM in charge and not the programs sold by large providers, so finding the right manager is imperative. This article will explore the traits to look for when selecting a service provider for facilities management to assure yourself that you have the right person at the helm to navigate the myriad of innate issues from the work and to deliver a work environment that fosters inclusivity and operational excellence across the board.
Understanding the Job of a Facilities Manager
Many people assigned with selecting a facility manager oftentimes do not have any experience in the field and apply traditional human resource practices to this endeavor. Only to receive mediocre candidates that repeatedly unfulfill organizational goals. In deciding whether your organization wants a Good or great FM you must into several aspects of the job of an FM.
An FM is required to look after several different jobs including overlooking employee relationships, building efficient teams, competing ideas, etc. They mainly are involved in looking over how to take an organization to the next level. In the simplest terms, FM’s are mainly macro thinkers, as well as consensus builders, and work to get the right results accomplished.
Today’s facilities manager needs more than just credentials and professional management experience to effectively perform their jobs. They also need to have the ability to build great relations amongst employees and strategic partners, have a sense of empathy, communicate effectively and be culturally aware of the environment the services will be provided. If your organization is looking for a great FM then you must make sure that the candidate has the capacity to tackle any situation that might come their way.
The main job of a Facilities manager is to ensure that all facilities are run properly and in an orderly fashion. This means that all the operations lead to protecting the investment of the real estate asset. But not just that, it should also offer a safe, clean and healthy environment for building occupants and stakeholders.
Let’s look at some topics to consider when selecting the right manager for your organization. It’s important to note that hiring just anyone with a past managerial experience isn’t enough; a facility manager needs to have experience in the field that your organization operates in. For instance, a school runs very differently than a corporate office or university. Hiring someone with incompatible experience will have a significant effect on the way that they will run, as compared to schools.
Most of you already know that facility maintenance is a necessity for schools and other institutions, but how important is it really? The first thing that comes to mind is it ensures the safety of students, staff and visitors. However, proper facility maintenance also sends a powerful message – the importance a community places on education. It also encourages future public investment into the buildings and infrastructure. A clean and well-maintained school creates a positive relationship between school conditions and student achievements and behavior.
Buildings provide shelter and protect us from outside elements. School buildings additionally provide a safe learning environment. Regularly scheduled maintenance for the exterior and interior of school buildings is essential to keeping students, teachers, staff, and visitors safe. Natural occurring events such as rain, snow, wind, sun and other elements can have adverse effects on roofs, windows, doors, paint, wood, and other materials. This can cause costly repairs and unsafe conditions if not regularly maintained.
Periodic inspections and maintenance on the roof, walls, gutters, drains and foundations is an investment in controlling interior conditions as well as preserving the building itself. Having a plan in place for regular maintenance scheduling, inspections, repairs, etc… is the best way to continue providing a clean and safe facility.
Create a Facility Maintenance Plan
Perform an audit of your buildings and equipment. Knowing the age and condition of a building or piece of equipment is necessary to maintain it properly. The need for maintenance, repairs and upgrades becomes much clearer when you know what condition the building or equipment is in. Good data about the buildings and equipment is necessary for good decision making.
Make a maintenance schedule and checklist for each area of the building that needs maintenance as well as any equipment that will require regular maintenance. The maintenance department is responsible for keeping facilities and grounds in good condition on a daily basis. Day-to-day activities should be managed with a schedule for when to check and/or maintain building areas or equipment, and a checklist for each to ensure that nothing is being missed when these “checks” occur.
Well-Maintained Schools Empower the District, Students, & Community
Facility maintenance, when done correctly and regularly, sends a “We Care” message to students, teachers, staff, and the community. It empowers the school district by enhancing their investment into the facility and infrastructure. A sound Facility Maintenance plan serves as evidence that the school building, it’s facilities, and equipment are, and always will be, well cared for. Most importantly, students are more likely to excel when their learning environment is clean, well-maintained, and safe!
At the end of the day the FM is in fact just that; a manager. They will be expected to manage a department, a team and an operation that will require leadership skills. Why not make sure they are great leaders? Much of what makes leaders and leadership great is intuitive. But great leadership if not intuitive can be taught if desired. What personality should your FM possess based on the current environment and the direction the organization sees itself going? Should they be generally easygoing? Or should they have an edge? Either one may work well in different situations, but flexibility is an especially valuable trait for successful FMs.
Facilities Management is a dynamic profession. Every day is different, and problems pop up without warning. And selecting the wrong FM for your operation will increase your organization’s risk exposure and demoralize subordinate employees. Why? Because it has been repeatedly found that inexperienced people in positions of scope become more concerned with job survival rather than success of the operation. The focus shifts from the operation to the organizational politics and culture which their limited skills cannot rise above.
About the author
Dan Ringo is a former director of engineering, general manager, district manager, vice president of operations, senior vice president of operations, chief operations officer, and CEO of various facilities management firms. Currently, he is the principal of OPIS LLC, an instructor at HVAC U LLC, and the Director of Public Works at City of Pontiac, Michigan. Ringo is the author of various books on facilities management and power plant operations and is a trusted subject-matter expert on business operations and operational improvement. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.