May 17, 2017
I suspect we’ve all got one of those friends. Needy. Constantly seeking validation. Of a new partner. Of a new outfit. Of their choices for all aspects of their life. If the industry media and chatterati are to be believed, facilities management is becoming just such a friend. Handwringing articles asking how FM can best demonstrate the value it brings. In actual fact, the sector seems to be in robust good health. It benefits whatever way the market moves. New buildings means new work. Fewer new buildings means more attention required on ageing stock. Fadism and bandwagon jumping mean there’s constant changes to be made. All grist to the mill of the hardworking facilities management professional at the coalface.
So, what’s driving this apparent existential crisis? My sense is that there’s a creeping, lazy tabloid sensationalism in the industry press. Good news doesn’t make good news. An industry in a tailspin is much better copy. A narrative, as an aside, that this very publication is sometimes guilty of perpetuating. Consultants aren’t helping either with their constant exhortations of “must” and “should”. Imagine a football team playing in a must-win home tie trying to play to a strategy whilst the coach, the backroom staff and armchair pundits are actually on the pitch with you. That’s almost precisely the scenario you’d feel yourself to be in if you were an FM professional reading all this stuff.
Is there room for improvement? Of course there is. Understanding the business you serve and its direction of travel mean there is the opportunity for continual marginal gains. The kind of marginal gains you’ll have heard at countless conferences from the likes of Clive Woodward and Dave Brailsford. I think most good FMs are doing this already. At least the ones in daily contact with the people they’re serving. There is also room for passionate, reasoned debate about where the industry is headed and one that needs expanding beyond the views of the usual commentariat.
As a recent article in FM World presciently points out, facilities management professionals know the value they bring. They know they’re doing a good job. It’s a failure of leadership if that is going unrecognised and their leaders need to step up and show that they do recognise it too and reward it accordingly. It’s also a failure of the press to put that good news front and centre. They’re not and, frankly, it’s not a good look.