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Dan Hounsell column: Can We Talk? Changing Organizations and the Need for Clear Communications
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How well do you communicate? Even if you believe you communicate well, you might want to step up your game. The issue of clear communication is increasingly important for success in maintenance and engineering management as the profession takes on greater responsibilities and expanded roles in many institutional and commercial organizations.
Once, managers could spend most of their time focused on the specific duties and productivity of their departments' supervisors and front-line technicians. Facilities were simpler, and responsibilities fell more neatly into specific and separate departments.
No more. Maintenance and engineering managers today are just as likely to be involved in conversations and decisions that focus on broader issues, such as energy efficiency, sustainability, security, and long-term planning. Increasingly, success in these and a host of other areas rests on managers' ability not only to gather and analyze growing amounts of data related to facilities operations but to effectively communicate their findings and proposals to a range of areas in the organization.
Attend any national conference on facilities operations and management, and the importance is apparent. In session after session, presenters stress the need for clear, concise communication if managers, their departments and their organizations hope to meet goals related to performance, competition, sustainability and savings.
Need to communicate the importance of a key equipment purchase? Want to make the case for important elements of a proposed capital budget? Trying to convince upper management of the benefits of a project aimed at improving sustainability? In these cases and many more, managers can achieve greater success if they have a strong set of written and in-person communication skills to use.
The issue of clear communication came up most recently in my conversations for this month's Roundtable. Managers and an industry observer involved in developing, implementing and presenting training to front-line technicians stressed that while training needs to provide technical information to technicians, there is more to its success.
Managers need to be able to communicate a department's specific training needs to the training provider, and maybe most importantly, they need to communicate the results of the training to top facility executives as proof that the initial investment in training delivered a return on investment for the organization.
To succeed in this challenge, maybe managers should treat clear communication not as just an issue to address but as an essential tool to add to their repertoire of professional resources. After all, you can never have enough tools, right?