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Developing Talent in a Hybrid Workplace

Without personal interactions, it can be difficult for facility personnel to map a career path 

By Stormy Friday, Contributing Writer  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Six Skills Facility Managers Need to Showcase

Since the pandemic, the facility management landscape has been in a state of flux and its future direction seems unsettled. With so many unresolved issues, facility professionals indicate they are insecure about their futures and are having difficulty planning and developing a road map for their careers. They are rethinking the tried-and-true strategies for career development to determine if they are still viable pathways to success. They often express concern about what they should do to showcase their talent and advance their careers. 

Facility managers and their staff find themselves in buildings where few or no other professionals work on a regular basis. Senior executives have accepted the hybrid work concept, so they are not even in their offices as often as they used to be. Since most facility professionals’ interaction with staff and managers consists of virtual meetings and electronic communication, how are they supposed to exhibit their talents and develop the relationships that help shape decisions about advancement within the organization? 

According to a recent article by Korn Ferry, 37 percent of companies gave their employees what is known as “dry promotions” in the past year, a trend that is five percent higher than it was in 2021. This type of promotion consists of new titles but no additional compensation. Employers like these promotions and argue they reward employes by presenting new developmental opportunities while, at the same time, helping contain corporate costs. Human resource experts such as Peter Capillo, the Director of the Wharton School Center for Human Resources, however, say the strategy is shortsighted. Employees become disgruntled with only the advent of a dry promotion and this prospect adds to the debate they have with themselves about quitting their job and looking for something else. 

Exacerbating the situation for facility management professionals is the loss of an internal network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances who quietly contribute to advancement planning. A recent Gallup poll found that only two out of every 10 people have a “best friend” at work. Younger workers who did not have a chance to develop a network during the pandemic are the most affected. For workers aged 35 and younger, the two in 10 figure is down from 25 percent in 2019. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “employees are isolated and lonely.”  

While the workplace used to be the environment where friendships and collegiality were forged, that atmosphere no longer exists. Companies cannot force employees to establish friendships because it is an organic process. What they need to do is create a climate where these relationships develop naturally. 

Related Content: The First 100 Days as a Facility Manager

Studies show that people have an average of about five loved ones, 15 good friends and 50 loose friends. In the old days, employees spent most of their working hours in an office or out in the field where they interacted with those 15 good friends. The workplace used to allow employees the chance to develop relationships with other employees who perceive and respond to the world in a comparable manner. Friendly relationships developed from different teammate situations help strengthen collaboration and trust, which are important attributes when decisions about staff promotions are made. 

Because they are in unchartered waters, facility professionals need to rethink their career objective and then figure out a course of action to achieve it. They need to structure a plan based on their specific career goals. The plan should incorporate benchmarks to measure how well they are doing as they move along a career path. In crafting the plan, professionals should keep in mind that the traditional strategies for showcasing talent are still viable, but their application may have to be modified to work in a hybrid world. Although a plan for career development needs to be individualized, there are some approaches to showcasing talent applicable to all facility management professionals. 

Identify the goal: Even the best plans to demonstrate capabilities often fail because the individual creating the plan has not identified an ultimate career goal. Facility professionals may have to take different paths and opportunities to display their talents depending on where they want to land within the organization. 

Executive career path: A facility manager aspiring to become an executive and assume a leadership position needs to ensure the action plan includes targeted benchmarks to display capabilities in both these areas. One of the most important qualities for a leader is to be proactive and demonstrate the ability to take initiative without waiting for instructions. To develop leadership skills an employee must have the desire to lead and be in charge. 

Technical career path: Not everyone wants to be an executive, and it is a legitimate goal to pursue options for a technical career. In fact, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, young workers in the Gen Z generation are picking up a toolbelt and going into skilled trades because their research shows these jobs have potential for higher pay. With shortages among the trades, selecting a technical career path may provide more opportunities to showcase talent than the route to a management position. Even if an executive career is not the track an employee is interested in, leadership is still a key element in a technical game plan for achievement. 

Continue Reading: Employee Development

Developing Talent in a Hybrid Workplace

Six Skills Facility Managers Need to Showcase

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  posted on 5/13/2024   Article Use Policy

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