16 Essential Skills for a Facility Manager

Updated June 24, 2022

Facility managers are crucial members of any company with a physical location. They're responsible for maintaining equipment, developing a skilled staff and improving systems and operations. If you're thinking about a career in facility management or are designing your facility manager resume, you can benefit from learning the skills required for success in this career. In this article, we describe 16 crucial facility manager skills and offer tips for career success.

What are facility manager skills?

Facility manager skills are a combination of technical knowledge and leadership abilities that help a person thrive as a facility manager (FM). Facility managers coordinate solutions pertaining to maintenance, grounds, equipment, security and cleaning. They're crucial team members who work to ensure smooth and safe operations, and they earn an average of $63,492 per year.

Related: Guide for How To Write a Facilities Manager Resume

16 must-have facility management skills

Here are 16 skills that every successful facility manager should possess:

1. Communication

Communication is a person's ability to relay information using written or oral language. Strong communicators can present ideas in an informative, engaging and motivating way. Facility managers hold leadership positions and communicate with their team and people in other departments. This ability is key when delegating responsibilities, guiding employees and suggesting changes or improvements.

2. Operate and maintain machines

A facility manager ensures the optimal operating function of a physical location. They have many responsibilities including completing inspections, delegating assignments and assessing equipment and machines. In order to oversee these systems, they must have exceptional technical skills in operating and maintaining machinery and they need to understand the mechanics behind electrical systems, HVAC systems, generators, boilers and computers.

An in-depth understanding of machinery helps prepare a facility manager for their position. With it, they can accurately assess the lifespan of mechanical equipment, troubleshoot systems in need of repair, teach or guide the employees they manage, increase productivity and save money.

3. Identify hazards and respond in crisis

Facility managers oversee multiple departments relating to the physical and structural safety of a building or campus. They manage and organize elements of security, catering, technology, cleaning, grounds upkeep and technology. Their job includes inspecting and checking the operational quality of machines and systems. A strong facilities manager monitors the safety and security of the workplace throughout each day. They look for areas in need of improvement and are proactive in their search of hazards or dangers.

It's important for a facilities manager to have multiple plans in place for dealing with hazards and crisis situations. Their ability to develop intervention or emergency response plans—and train their staff in the implementation of these plans—is crucial to their success.

Related: How To Develop a Successful Crisis Management Plan

4. Practice sustainability

Sustainability refers to ecological practices meant to limit a companies environmental impact. There has been an increase in demand for companies to reduce their waste and consumption of natural resources, and much of that obligation has become the responsibility of facilities managers. Choices that FM's make regarding equipment, energy consumption and operations can have a significant impact. Here are eight ways that a facility manager can support the sustainability of their workplace:

  • Assess the energy efficiency of operating equipment

  • Replace old windows with energy-efficient models

  • Upgrade indoor and outdoor lighting to operate using motion sensors

  • Update insulation for optimal heating and cooling performance

  • Avoid volatile organic compounds (VOC's) cleaning products, chemicals and paint

  • Place recycling cans and recycling signs throughout the facility

  • Conduct sustainability training for maintenance and facility staff

  • Hire eco-friendly contractors

5. Team management

One core function of facility management is leading staff members. FM's manage company the maintenance workers, cleaning crews and security teams. They must be able to navigate individual employee means, design weekly schedules, delegate jobs and tasks. It's also important that they promote unity and possess the ability to mediate and resolve conflicts between staff members.

6. Create and manage a budget

It's essential for facility managers to possess basic foundations of financial math. They should be able to create a monthly, quarterly and annual budget. FM's ensure optimal functionality of systems and operations within the workplace. The extensive electrical systems and machines companies use are expensive, and facility managers need to be aware of the lifespan of appliances and equipment so they can properly budget for their maintenance or replacement.

Budget management also is important for making appropriate staffing decisions, allotting for the purchase of software or computer programs, attending workshops or professional development and meeting standards set by superiors. Facility managers regularly complete budgetary assessments, write financial reports and submit budgetary plans or documents to their superiors for review.

7. Make hiring decisions

As leaders within a company, facility managers often make hiring decisions for their maintenance, cleaning or security personnel. A facilities manager needs to be a good judge of character, and should also be impartial in their decision-making. They are likely to read resumes, conduct interviews and hire people to fulfill vacant positions. A strong facility manager is able to recognize a candidate's technical and interpersonal strengths and can assemble a cohesive staff.

Related: 7 Steps for Making a Hiring Decision

8. Focus on team member growth

A crucial component of a facility manager's job is to aid in the growth of their staff and personnel. A well-equipped manager is focused on growth and development, and they take the time to train their staff members and provide professional development to improve the technical skill, environmental safety and operational functionality of the entire facilities department. Here are seven areas for professional development that a facilities manager might focus on when trying to help their staff improve and grow:

  • Environmentalism and sustainability

  • Using technology and software programs

  • Mechanical skills

  • Electrical safety

  • Lockdown procedures

  • Crisis management

  • Social and emotional awareness

9. Navigate technology

It's important for facilities managers to stay up-to-date with trends and developments in technology. They need to know how to navigate advanced HVAC equipment, smart building technologies and security monitoring systems. FM's also regularly use employee experience apps, electronic filing systems and they may even use wearable technology. As a leader and manager, they need to have a strong understanding of how to use software and geographic information systems in order to accurately and easily train members of their staff.

10. Time management

Facilities managers are crucial to maintaining a functional office or company campus. They organize multiple projects and lead multiple teams. They also maintain records on the infrastructure, procedures and machines that companies rely on for operation. Facility managers need excellent time management skills to ensure that projects are completed on time and that employees and teams are trained properly and effectively.

They need to organize schedules for staff shifts, and design each staff member's list of daily duties and responsibilities. Facilities managers also need to schedule time to review and assess each person's progress and schedule professional development and training sessions. To do these things effectively, they must be able to prioritize tasks and manage their time well.

11. Patience

Facilities managers work with and lead many people within a company. They are in regular communication with contractors, electricians, superiors and colleagues, and they regularly lead maintenance staff, security personnel and groundskeepers. When working with a variety of people, it's important to be patient and understanding. Here are five reasons patience is an important skill and trait for facilities managers:

  • It leads to better relationships and rapport.

  • It sets a positive example in the workplace.

  • It's a key component of active listening and effective communication.

  • It reduces workplace stress and increases productivity.

  • It helps a manager to be perceived as approachable.

12. Write and review reports

Companies rely on facilities managers for information regarding upcoming changes, expenditures, potential safety risks and staff performance. They delegate some monitoring and reporting to their staff members, and often use staff reports, photos and checklists as data to compile larger reports for senior management. Facility managers also regularly write reports on maintenance needs, equipment replacement costs and employee performance and growth.

13. Analytical thinking

Analytical thinking refers to a person's ability to read and interpret data, identify challenges and find reasonable solutions or strategies in response to, or preparation for, potential problems. Here are six scenarios in which a facilities manager needs strong analytical skills:

  • Compiling budgetary data

  • Assessing staff needs

  • Creating teams or staff Partnerships

  • Developing projects and project timelines

  • Assessing building or campus safety

  • Designing staff goals and professional development activities

14. Networking

Networking is a combination of behaviors are not actions that lead to professional connections and resources. It's important for facilities managers to make connections and develop a strong professional network so that they can game insight regarding technology, innovation and potential challenges. A professional network can also help guide a facilities manager in the hiring and contracting aspect of their job, and aid in finding resources and opportunities for professional development and skill building.

15. Vision

Vision refers to the way a person sees the future position of a company or department, and it's closely related to elements of a company mission. To have positive vision, managers need to the ability to imagine the future of the department's and the futures of each staff member they manage. It's important that they are positive, innovative and forward-thinking so that they can lean the company towards a successful future.

16. Comply with federal and state laws

Facilities managers handle procedures for multiple aspects of a company's daily operations. They need to have a strong understanding of federal, state and local laws to ensure that company behaviors are in compliance with rules and regulations. It's important that FM's know about building restrictions, hiring laws, capacity codes and other liabilities or concerns.

There are federal rules regarding who can operate certain equipment, and there are state and local restrictions concerning the types of equipment and materials that can be used for construction or maintenance projects. Many municipalities also have rules pertaining to the use of certain chemicals, recycling and waste disposal.

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4 tips for improving your skills as a facility manager

Here are four tips for improving your skills as a facility manager and designing a more functional workplace:

Track productivity

As a facilities manager, it's your job to ensure optimal functioning and operations within the maintenance, cleaning and security teams. Sometimes facilities managers guide very large teams. It's important to track each team member's productivity using data and metrics. Consider using facilities management software to properly evaluate employee contributions, time management and skill level. Closely monitoring performance and productivity helps managers to identify training needs and staff members who need further development or those who could benefit from moving up to leadership positions.

Provide goals and feedback

As a leader and manager, it's crucial to provide each team member with appropriate assignments and achievable goals. When tasking staff members with duties, they should know what is expected of them. After an assignment or duty is fulfilled, it's also important to let people know the things they did well and what they may need to improve upon. Providing goals and feedback helps people develop skills and provides guidance in the workplace.

Talk to your staff

Talking to your staff on a regular basis about their needs and feelings regarding work helps establish a respectful work environment. Consider using anonymous forms or other feedback tools to help gain insight about how people feel regarding management, duties and culture. You can use this information to design or adapt policies or procedures that encourage fulfillment at work and less frequent turnover.

Related: How To Run an Effective Staff Meeting

Earn a Facilities Management certification

A Facilities Management certification, or a CFM, is an internationally recognized credential. It includes course study, passing a standardized exam and maintaining certification by completing annual professional development hours. Earning this certification helps facility managers develop their technical skills, broaden their professional networks and strengthen their management abilities.

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