Why Facility Managers Need to be Curious

Curiosity is a trait that will lead FMs to discover new solutions and new opportunities.   January 19, 2023

By Dan Weltin, Editor-in-Chief

At some point in their careers, facility managers will undoubtedly find themselves in a situation where they don’t know the answers. And that’s OK. This job requires the ability to adapt.  

However, what's not OK is not wanting to learn more. Facility managers don’t know what they don’t know, but should want to learn as much as possible so they are prepared for whatever situations come their way. That’s why curiosity is a great trait to have as a facility manager.  

Being curious is a great way to discover new solutions and it will lead to new opportunities. At NFMT Baltimore in March, Charles Thomas, Facility Operations Consultant with LACE Management, will present the session “Curiosity in Facilities Management.”  

NFMT: Why is curiosity a needed trait for facility managers? 

Thomas: The majority of us fell into what we do as facility managers. More often than not, curiosity is all we have. There are plenty of subjects and “dos and don’ts” of the trade where we don’t know what we don’t know. In this sink or swim process of learning, if a facility manager does not possess a “How do I” mindset or is not just curious, sinking is certainly on the menu. 

NFMT: What kinds of things should a facility manager be curious about? 

Thomas: In a broad way of thinking, a facility manager should be curious about all things related to getting better at their job. This is a jack-of-all-trades profession so there is always something to learn. From HVAC terminology, time management, learning the language of C-suite executives to accounts payable, to the day porters. Every day should be a learning experience in some way. What gets a FM here (wherever in their career they are), isn’t what gets a FM there (where they'd like to be). Curiosity creates and opens the path to opportunity. 

NFMT: How will this trait take managers to the next level in their careers? 

Thomas: Building the muscle of curiosity creates opportunity after opportunity to learn new things everyday as a facility manager. The more curious someone is, the more often the right people will notice. Depending on what a manager does with that attention is what will determine which doors will open. When doors open, no matter how scary it can be because of the unknown, walk through them and the benefits of being curious about information will easily take a FM to new heights. Simply because the others aren’t doing it.  

NFMT: What’s an example of how curiosity helped you in your facility management career or helped solve a problem? 

Thomas: Curiosity has landed me in plenty of conversations in rooms a great deal of facility managers don’t get to walk into. There’s one example that takes the cake though, and it’s the story of how I have the opportunity to speak at NFMT 2023 Baltimore.  

In 2015, I was just a spectator at the NFMT conference and since then I’ve attended faithfully year after year because of how much knowledge I’d leave with and how much my network grew. There was one year that was particularly substantial, and it was because I was in the right room at the right time and was curious enough to say hello and ask to be a part of the Next Gen podcast with Trade Press Media Group.  

This podcast led to writing multiple articles for www.facilitiesnet.com and that turned into becoming an Editorial Advisory Board Member for Building Operating Management magazine. From there I was asked to create the content for the upcoming “A New Facilities Manager Guidebook” for the fnPrime membership, which includes a chapter on curiosity. And finally, that topic is what led to being asked to present at NFMT this March.  

It was the curiosity about the podcast that planted the seed, and the oak tree grew from there and success has been nothing but on my side, just from being curious enough. 

NFMT Baltimore takes place March 21-23. Visit www.nftm.com to register. 

Dan Weltin is the editor-in-chief for the facility market. He has 20 years of experience covering the facility management and commercial cleaning industries. 


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