Seven thoughts on the UK facilities management association merger

New broomWith breathless excitement a press release announces the proposed merger of all of the UK’s major facilities management and support services trade associations, or rather notes that they: “have agreed to the concept of forming one single and united body to represent facilities management and support services.” With a sense of crushing inevitability the first step has been to form a steering group to address how these and other organisations could come together into this single body to meet the needs of the industry and the professionals that work within it. With this in mind, I proffer a few pieces of advice in the form of seven thoughts for those involved in these discussions.

1. Why not hold a consultation? Ask for honesty. Be prepared to hear uncomfortable truths. Don’t have a survey unless you get someone else to write the questions for you, make it qualitative as well as quantifiable and publish the source response data in public. Don’t spin the results.

2. Try a shareholder model. That way, members of the new body could have some degree of assurance that the new organisation really is interested in serving their best interests. No big corporate shareholders please. Or by all means have big corporate sponsors but be prepared to see a concomitant dip in credibility.

3. Put diversity at the top of your agenda. And make a significant public commitment in this regard. Start by inviting Ruby McGregor-Smith to chair the new body. Commit to a board that is 50% female. There are probably more capable women leaders and prospective leaders in this industry than there are male ones but we ought to give the chaps a look in.

4. Make it your unwavering mission to promote the industry as a career of choice and build on the apprenticeship commitments recently announced. Forget MBAs and develop an industry-wide coaching and mentoring programme instead. And if anyone offers unpaid internships, expel them very publicly from the membership.

5. Subscriptions are a nuisance at best and highway robbery at worst. If you must have a steering group (instead of buying biscuits at M&S like everyone else), take a long hard look at the revenue model and accessibility of material produced by the new body. And don’t make non-membership a barrier to accessibility

6. Go social. Embrace new thinking. A strong, vibrant social media presence will represent a commitment to getting the organisation out of the conference hall or board room and into people’s hands and minds wherever they are, whenever. If you simply pump out press releases, be prepared to lose followers more quickly than the Lib-Dems at a local by-election.

7. Be open to challenge and retain a personal and corporate sense of humour. Stuffy, self-serving, inward looking, exclusive clubs are going the way of the dodo. There are a multitude of distinct voices in the industry and within other associated business services. Bring them together. Provoke debate. And above all LISTEN, UNDERSTAND and ACT.

I’m sure readers will be able to think of many more, so don’t forget to comment below this article.


Simon HeathSimon Heath is a freelance illustrator and commentator on workplace and facilities management issues and was formerly Head of Operations, Global Workplace Strategies at CBRE. For more of Simon’s worldly, wise and witty writing on all things work and workplace, visit his blog