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Minding the Gap:Communication Strategies for Facility Managers

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Facility Managers in a corporate setup are directly are indirectly responsible for enabling revenue generation. Those manning support functions, including Finance, HR and Facilities Management, have to work hard to be heard by the top management and get support for their initiatives. Aravind Ramaraju, Head-Real Estate, Workplace Service Delivery (India) & Transformation, provides valuable inputs on how strategy, upskilling, data points and effective communication can pave the way for facility managers.

For facility managers (FMs) in India’s rapidly evolving corporate landscape, gaining buy-in from top leadership for crucial initiatives is often an uphill battle. The C-suite executives, focused on driving growth and profitability, can sometimes overlook the strategic value that effective facility management can bring to the organization. Apart from investments and support to transformative ideas, FMs also need executive sponsorship for bringing in newer ways of working.

Facility Management (FM) initiatives are sometimes capex intensive and the traditional idea of not fixing something that is not broken rides high when investment decisions are made. This is where the facility manager has to wear the strategist hat, comprehend the big picture and fill the mosaic of business strategy with the right pieces of interventions; be it in real estate, technology or contracting models.

The gap that exists between FMs and business leaders in understanding each other’s objectives and priorities can be bridged through effective communication.

Hard numbers, ROI calculations and operational risks – quantifying impact is key for leadership buy-in, rather than getting lost in technical jargon

Aravind Ramaraju

Strengthening the FM-Leadership Connection

The first step is ensuring facility management has a say in high-level decision-making. Some strategies FMs can use to ensure the same include:

•     Demonstrating strategic value by tying FM initiatives to key business metrics, including cost savings, risk mitigation, employee productivity and retention thus illustrating how it directly impacts the company’s bottom line.

•     Developing trusted relationships with C-suite leaders through regular communication, understand their priorities and proactively bring forth ideas aligned with their goals.

•     Building strategic partnerships with other business units like HR, IT and Finance and creating coalitions through transparent knowledge sharing.

•     Leveraging data, metrics, and business cases to substantiate FM’s impact and significance by providing cost-benefit analyses, benchmarks, and continuous improvement metrics.

•     Demonstrating that FM teams are essential partners in the execution of strategic directives requiring change management.

As the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) recommends, “Build competencies around stakeholder engagement, communication planning, training, and resistance management. This elevates FM’s credibility.”

Ultimately, earning a seat at the leadership table is about relentlessly proving FM’s indispensable value to the enterprise. It requires strategic communication, quantifiable performance, and the vision to proactively align with overarching business mandates. Simply having a seat at the table is not enough, however. FMs must speak a language that resonates with leadership’s mindset and priorities.

Crafting Compelling Narratives

FMs need to go beyond just presenting data — they need to weave narratives that directly tie facility needs to business goals. When proposing sustainability investments, it helps to highlight potential reductions in energy costs and enhanced brand reputation. They must tell a story about how their initiatives ultimately enhance revenue growth, improve margins, or mitigate risks in order to make it clear that they understand the leadership’s KPIs.

Meeting Executive Expectations

To instil confidence, FMs must present comprehensive implementation roadmaps, flagging potential obstacles and having risk mitigation plans. Business leaders do not expect perfection, but they will see FMs ability to deftly navigate challenges that arise.

Building Long-Term Strategic Influence

Sustaining leadership’s trust requires an ongoing commitment to deeply understand and proactively support the organization’s direction. Continuous two-way communication is key, providing leadership with regular updates and course-correcting when priorities shift. FMs need to be as agile and future focused as the businesses they support. They will be better served by not just reacting to circumstances but by anticipating future needs.

Aspiring FMs should seek out training opportunities and constantly upskill to communicate effectively. They need to take ownership and tenaciously push for their seat at the leadership table.

As Indian corporations continue to mature, seamless FM-leadership collaboration will be crucial for optimizing workplace effectiveness, retaining talent, and driving competitive advantage. By bridging communication gaps through strategic outreach and continuous alignment, facility managers can cement themselves as indispensable business partners.

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