One of the roles often overlooked is that of the facility manager. Facility managers plan and coordinate supportive services.
So, what really is the role of a facility manager? Facility managers are responsible for ensuring that the buildings as well as services within those buildings meet each and every need of every individual who works there. Facility managers are therefore responsible for such services like security, cleaning, parking and ensuring that the surrounding environment is suitable for people to work there.
Besides all that, a facility manager, ensures that things like air conditioning and heating are working to make the environment as conducive as possible for those who come to work within that building every day. (Read more on what is facility management)
Since the role of a facility manager is to manage buildings and ensure that they are ideal for work, they can either work in-house, under an organization that manages such services or a company that provides services like cleaning and security to other companies.
As such, typical employers include facilities management organizations, property management firms or even property firms, construction companies and big private and public institutions like hospitals, schools, universities and the likes.
Their responsibilities vary from one organization to another but what their role comes down to is basically managing facilities such as buildings and it includes renovations, refurbishments, and office moves and as such, the role can extend to mail distribution, bookkeeping as well as office upkeep.
The main role of a facility manager is to ensure the upkeep and maintenance of buildings so that they meet both safety and health standards as well as legal requirements. This means managing cleaning, catering, waste disposal, parking and security while still keeping payment records and managing budgets given.
A facility manager is also expected to manage the office systems which include office equipment as well as IT. Sometimes, a facility manager can work for an external company like a property management firm where they are contracted to manage different organizations. In such a case, the job title may not be necessarily facility manager but may change to support services manager, business services manager or contracts manager. (We have written a related article on what is computer-assisted facility management)
A facility manager may be called upon to oversee renovation projects aimed at improving efficiency or to ensure that the building meets legal, health and security standards if they are lacking. For instance, a facility manager may influence renovation projects by recommending other better solutions like efficient ways of reducing and managing waste. In addition to this, they are expected to continuously monitor the facility to ensure that the renovations are working and measures put in place are well maintained.
Besides the main duties the facility manager is tasked with other duties like buying, storing as well as distribution of supplies, supervising administrative and clerical personnel, developing and monitoring records, setting goals for their department, recommending policy and procedure changes, planning and managing budgets for supplies and contracts and overseeing the repair and maintenance of equipment, machinery, electrical and mechanical systems within the building. They will also deal with emergency issues that pertain to security, safety, and use of facilities immediately they occur.
There are various places you can launch your career as a facility manager but it all starts with pursuing the right course. Education requirements for facilities managers vary from one organization to another since you can work in-house or under a property management company. The qualifications also vary based on the roles and responsibilities you will be tasked with. Work experience is, however, a requirement unless you are starting from entry level in which case an internship or assistant position will do.
In terms of education, a bachelor’s degree is required to venture into the work of facility management although there are some who are able to start a career with just a high school diploma. Those with a degree will either be in business, facility management, engineering or information management.
The International Facility Management Association is known to offer certification programs for facility managers and such a program will give you an edge over other job seekers.
There are basically two levels in the program; Facilities Management Professional (FMP) certification and Certified Facility Manager (CFM) certification. If you are just new to the profession, you can begin with an FMP certification and use that as a stepping stone to acquiring a CFM certification. If you are going for a CFM certification, there are certain educational as well as work experience requirements that you are expected to meet. The certification is renewed every three years after completing continuing education and career development requirements. (We have written a related article - what is IFMA)
For those who want to be records and information managers, they can pursue the Certified Records Manager (CRM) certification offered at The Institute of Certified Records Managers and if you want to venture into informational governance, there is an Information Governance Professional (IGP) certification offered by ARMA International.
The work experience required to work as a facility manager depends on the organization, the breakdown of roles and the career level. To work in most organizations however as a facility manager, you must demonstrate both leadership and management abilities.
For instance, if you will be dealing mainly with contracts management, you must demonstrate experience in purchasing, sales, and knowledge in machinery, supplies and the various equipment that the organization uses. If you will be managing supplies, inventory as well as distribution, then you must also have experience in warehousing, shipping, packaging, transportation, and other logistics related operations.
This depends on the principles as well as how big the organization you are working for is. Some facility managers are transferred within the various departments in the organization or may work their way from technical roles like engineers. You may also advance by taking up additional responsibilities within the organization.
It is easier to advance in a larger organization since in such organizations there are various levels as well as different types of service managers. You could also pursue a master’s degree in business administration or any other related field so as to advance to positions like administrative services director. If you have the necessary experience you may join a consulting firm or start one of your own, where you will be contracted by an organization to offer facility management services.
Just like any other career, there are various skills that you need to succeed in a career in facility management. Since you will be tasked in managing buildings and services like security, parking, garbage disposal, and systems management, you need to develop good working relationships with a number of people including contractors and those who work at that building.
You also are required to be well organized and be good in both written and spoken communication, and have excellent client and customer management skills.
Facilities managers are also required to have the grace and patience of managing complex workload every day and have the technical know-how of building services since you will be required from time to time to create and manage budgets and have the skills to make decisions when required to.
Problem-solving skills are also a must have since there will come a time when things don’t go according to plan and when that day comes your skills, in science, engineering, technology as well as math will be put to the test.
Since facilities managers also deal with emergencies that may occur that involve security and safety of those who work within the building, critical thinking skills are also required.
Analytical skills are also a must have for that time when you are called upon to review procedures and recommend ways of improving efficiency. You must be detail oriented and have knowledge of government requirements to ensure that the building you are managing meets security, health and legal standards that are required to be in operation.
Last but not least, since you will always have people working under you and are required to coordinate various administrative duties, your leadership skills are required to motivate employees and deal with different issues on a daily basis.
What are the working hours of a facility manager? Typically, a facility manager is expected to work for about 40 hours a week basically from 9 am to 5 pm but there will be times when you will be called upon to work extra hours like when there is an emergency.
What is the salary of a facility manager? The salary of a facility manager depends on several factors like the size of an organization, the duties and responsibilities and the level of experience. All in all, the average salary of a facility manager is $76,951 a year.
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