Sowing the seeds for FM in the boardroom

In my 6 years working in the FM industry, the topic of getting FM into the boardroom has been raised more times than I can remember.

It’s a worthy topic and I don’t doubt that FM deserves to be taken seriously enough to warrant a seat in the boardroom, but are we making any progress?

There have been discussions devoted to educating business leaders about the value of FM, but unfortunately it appears to be falling on deaf ears. In the majority of cases, FM is still seen purely as a cost, as evidenced by increasingly tight margins for FM service providers who must continuously reduce their fees to remain competitive. The result is a vicious cycle in which service levels fall, relationships degenerate and contracts are retendered with prices dropping even further as the whole process starts again.

So it seems that the strategy of educating business leaders is not taking us anywhere fast.

The solution?

The good news is that this isn’t a lost cause. We can educate business leaders about FM and cultivate an appreciation for its value. The trick is to do it before they become business leaders. We need take a grass-roots approach and educate the next generation before they develop their ideas about what’s important in business. Schools and universities should become the breeding ground for true recognition of FM.

This isn’t about ‘making FM a career of choice’ or attracting young talent into the industry. Don’t get me wrong – these are desirable outcomes – but they should be seen as a positive side-effect rather than the focus of the strategy itself.

What this is about is ensuring that future CEOs, MDs etc. understand how effective Facilities Management can help them achieve their business objectives if viewed as an important business function rather than a necessary evil.

What YOU can do about it!

So how do we go about achieving this? The long term goal should be to incorporate FM as part of a standard business education. Facilities related modules in business A-Levels and degrees would really put FM on the map, but this is a mission for organisations such as the BIFM and FMA, who have the resources and contacts to accomplish it.

But there’s also something that you can do. It would take very little effort to deliver a presentation to a group of students at a school or university about FM and its value, but it could sow the seeds for a greater understanding of the industry in the long term.

So, to anyone reading this, I implore you to pick up the phone, call your old school or university and arrange to talk to their students about this exciting industry we work in. Better still, do it every year to a new batch of students. Then we might just start to see some real progress. And in 20 years’ time, when there’s an FM Director in every boardroom across the country, you can be proud of the fact that you helped put them there.

Good luck!

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