DNA of a Successful Facilities Manager

By Alf Nathoo BA, Msc(FM), MBIFM, FMCMI, MBIC

I have often said that the two most common traits successful FM Managers have are highly developed leadership and communication skills. Being a successful FM Manager depends on many other factors as well. One factor that is not often discussed is the attitude and behaviour of a successful FM Manager. What fundamental characteristics or qualities of the person helps them become a successful FM Manager? If we understand the DNA of a successful FM Manager, it would give us some insight into what it takes to be successful in FM.

A non-scientific experiment by BIFM set out to answer this question. The experiment involved a round table discussion with a number of BIFM FM Manager of the year award winners. As winners of the annual BIFM award, they met the criteria of being successful in FM. The discussions focused on what attitudes and behaviour characteristics made them successful? The outcome of the discussions identified 5 key fundamental characteristics:

1. Confident

A hall mark of a successful FM Manager is that they are confident. They have a strong sense of self-belief in their abilities to do their job well and are excellent communicators. The improve their confidence level by continually improving their FM knowledge, skills and building their professional work experience history.

2. Courageous

They are bold, willing to take a chance and see failure as a learning opportunity. They are also versatile, flexible, practical and organised. These are the traits of a successful FM Manager.

3. Passionate

Successful FM Managers are passionate about their work, enjoy what they do and continually look at ways of striving for excellence. Being extrovert is helpful but being introvert is not a significant disadvantage provided one is passionate about their work.

4. Enable Talent

Successful FM Managers are supportive, considerate, inspiring and good at nurturing talent in the FM profession. They have the ability to build and lead strong FM teams.

5. Champion

Successful FM Managers are FM champions. They instil confidence, encourage challenge and act with purpose to champion the FM mission.

While this is not a scientific experiment, these characteristics make intuitive sense. As one FM Manager of the year said, ‘we want to transform, that’s what makes us different’. In the words of General Collin Powell, "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." Whether it is on the battle field or in the FM field, recipe for success is the same. DNA of successful Facilities Manager also fits well with the Aristotle tenet ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” And we have control over our habit.