Find Out How the Facility Staff Can Help Other Departments

  October 6, 2011

Today's tip from Building Operating Management: To build a relationship with other departments, find out how the facility staff can help them.

Many facility managers spend an inordinate amount of time putting out fires. One reason is that facility managers don't get important information when they need it. Another issue is that other departments just don't understand the impact of their actions on the facility staff.

A good way to address those underlying challenges is to build a better working relationship with other departments. One way to start is to sit down with the department head and ask how the facility department can help. That may lead to a discussion about unmet needs or pending projects that the facility manager might not otherwise have heard about.

The department head may not have a clear idea of how the facility staff can help. In those cases, the facility manager can ask about the challenges facing the department. Suppose the department wants to move toward a more collaborative work style. Changes in the physical layout may help to support the new direction.

If it isn't possible to meet with the top manager of a department, the facility manager may have to do a little detective work. Informal conversations with others in that department may uncover an issue that the facility staff could help address. Another approach is simply to ask to sit in on a department staff meeting.

Armed with information about a department's needs, the facility manager is in a position to start planning specific actions. If the issue is ongoing complaints about comfort, a controls upgrade may be in order. Or perhaps a pilot project can test the effectiveness of a new office layout. Maybe it's just a matter of repainting an area or ensuring that contract cleaners address a problem.

The important thing is to make it known that the facility department is a resource. Once that happens, and a relationship is formed, it's far more likely the other department will share information that will make life easier for the facility department.


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