Dan Hounsell: How to Communicate With the C-suite
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Speaking up is not in the DNA of many maintenance and engineering managers. Their preference generally is to work hard and let the work speak for itself, hoping the right people will notice.
Unfortunately, the “right people” in institutional and commercial facilities — those in the C-suite — probably won’t notice. Top executives are inundated with information, and only the most relevant and essential information will cut through the clutter.
Managers who want to build support in the C-suite for their spending requests, staff expansions and long-term plans — which is to say, all managers — need to speak up for their departments.
Managers who embrace this challenge, still need to identify a clear, concise message that will make an impact. 5,000 words about every department activity is likely to be far less effective than 500 well-chosen words about issues that matter to executives. Here are three possible topics managers address to catch the attention of the C-suite:
Controlling costs. Comprehensive facility maintenance and engineering helps organizations avoid future repair costs. Just how large are those avoided costs? Managers with access to trending data on repair activity and costs and utility spending can mine those numbers for proof that effective maintenance controls future costs.
Technology ROI. Facilities regularly invest in technology to operate HVAC systems energy efficiently, troubleshoot critical equipment, and improve technician productivity. Managers who can demonstrate a solid return on such investments will grab the C-suite’s attention quickly.
Achievements. Executives like to see tangible results from their facility-related spending. Besides highlighting the bottom-line benefits of maintenance, managers can build support in the C-suite by showing that their departments play a central role in making facilities more efficient and reliable, increasing sustainability, and improving occupant safety and comfort.
Speaking up is easy. The challenge is finding a message the C-suite wants to hear.