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How Do You Gain Influence?

Today's tip is how facility managers can gain influence within their organizations. At a session at the 2011 National Facility Management and Technology conference, three top-tier facility managers offered advice on how facility managers can grow their influence and gain power within their organizations.

Jon Martens, facility operations division manager for the County of Sonoma in California, says it all starts with communication. He says the most important thing is to translate technical speak into strategic. For instance, with some aggressive water and energy savings initiatives Marten has saved the county the equivalent of 83 jobs. Putting the savings into a number upper managers can easily recognize and digest is a critical part of gaining influence.

Lenny Jachimowicz, vice president of engineering and facility management for Marriott International, says that he often uses analogies to translate the technical to the strategic and make his presentations resonate more strongly with non-technical people. During a recent presentation, he analogized an important step in the hand-over a worldwide technology deployment by comparing it to the moment when a newborn baby is handed over to the parents and taken home for good. Jachimowicz says that analogy worked because it was easy to understand and relate to, and made clear which group now had total ownership of the project.

Bert Gumeringer, director of facility operations for Texas Children's Hospital, completes an annual report for his department spelling out that year’s successes. The report has earned him a spot on the agenda of the Board of Directors meetings at the hospital. Gumeringer says simply telling upper managers about your success is the easiest way to get their attention and earn credibility — which is the key component of being influential. "The biggest mistake we make as facilities people is that we don’t tell people what we do," Gumeringer says. "If you don’t tell anyone, it never happened."


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