Ten Top Tips for FM Communication
Communication is easily the most important and most powerful of all management skills. That is doubly true for facilities managers who need to be expert listeners, speakers and writers. The perceptions that your stakeholders gain from each transaction with you and from observations made by others will influence everything from credibility at budget time to the chances of career advancement. It is therefore important that facilities managers work hard to develop first class communication skills. Here are some top tips for communication in FM:
- You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. Listening is an active pursuit not a passive one. Look for non verbal clues; Listen to tone and emphasis; Take useful notes; Ask clarification questions; Summarise for accuracy; Explore feelings and reasoning; Avoid making assumptions.
- People want to hear Why you are planning something, Why not following another option, How it’s going to work and WIFM or What’s In It For Me. A good communication covers all of these and they don’t listen until you’ve covered the one they are interested in most so you will need to repeat, repeat and repeat things.
- We all listen in different ways and some folk take in information better from pictures, numbers, words or examples. Repeat the same message in a variety of ways to emphasise your point and make sure they get it.
- Little, often and consistent is much better than long, loud and complicated. The dripping attention tap effect demonstrates commitment to your message, repeats it for those who weren’t paying attention and ensures you are heard.
- Be genuine and honest. People spot frauds and love enthusiasts so avoid waffle, management speak and theory. Speak from the heart and make what you say relevant to your audience from your own experience.
- Actions speak louder than words. Don’t talk about it – do it! If something has changed by the time they get back to their desks they will be seriously impressed and your credibility next time will have trebled
- When it’s important, do it in person. Not email, text or teleconference. Your personal presence shows that you care, that you respect them and allows you to benefit from all the non-verbal elements of good face to face communication
- What we say is only a small part of getting the message across. Non-verbal signals aren’t just body language, tone and emphasis, but also how you dress, how quickly you respond to emails, the state of your reception etc. They all say something to your audience.
- Getting buy in requires involvement. Get people to write things down or repeat them if you really want them to get on board. If you can lead them to make the conclusions themselves rather than just giving them the answer then your communication is much more effective.
- Speak their language if you can, be clear and simple if you can’t. That goes for Accountant speak as well as Cantonese. It doesn’t matter how clever your words are or how important your message, if they can’t understand you then you’ve wasted your time and theirs.
Communication is a really complex thing that can be affected by dozens of variables which is why it goes wrong so often. I could easily carry on with a hundred more tips but my best advice is to remember the importance of engagement with your stakeholders and to recognise that a communications strategy, good communication skills and active listening are essential tools for a successful facility manager.