What does it mean to have a career in FM? If you had asked me 10 years ago I would have struggled for words and said I: fix the broken stuff (It’s amazing what can be done with some silicone or duct tape), deal with customer complaints, clean and generally keep things ticking over. I used to get so frustrated that nobody knew what we did, how much we did and that it was so easy to say “Thank You” yet it was rarely a phrase heard.
It’s taken a long time for it to become clear that FM is the blood that flows around the body of the organisation (Hopefully not literally). FM ensures that day to day operations and facilities are aligned to the long term strategy of the business, that the spaces are aligned to the needs of the people and that we add to achieving long term business objectives through ensuring a happy, safe and productive workplace. That’s not even considering the fact that buildings are the second most expensive outlay for any business and therefore must be managed efficiently
But how do we communicate this? Very few understand what FM is, we do it (like ninjas) and it perpetuates the cycle that still nobody knows what we do. My experiences have always been that nobody knows what FM do until something breaks; it’s so very easy to see how FM can become and be seen as being purely operational.
Grönroos (2004) stated that the real test of the customer orientation takes place when service failure has occurred; customers expect things to go wrong, but it is how a business deals with it that sets organisations apart.
As long as we react, like the true ninjas that we are, get the issues fixed and continue to work strategically and tirelessly behind the scenes, for the better of the organisation, does it matter that nobody knows what we do?
For people to understand and appreciate the value of FM, they must experience concepts such as: quality, satisfaction and perceived value. Perception itself is highly complex and individual, aligned to: previous experiences, levels of expectation and personality traits. For customers, the experience would be fuelled by the key thought processes relating to quality and price.
To truly value quality and price and have the right expectations the customer must understand what we do in the first place. Vicious circle eh?
We exist to ensure that every single person is as happy and productive as they can be in a functional and safe environment. Do we need to step away from the need for an identity and focus on that bigger picture?
No? Why? Well, people don’t know, what they don’t know.
Let’s keep fighting the fight. Let’s continue to communicate what we do. We deserve the “Thank You” and the place in the C-Suite. We are the blood that flows through the organisation, we are the super-connectors. It’s up to us all, as a profession, to communicate the value of FM. If we don’t do it, who will? And how can we really influence and drive an organisation forward if nobody knows what we do?
Keep talking 🙂