We speak to facilities recruitment specialists Hays FM – sponsors of Manager of the Year at this year's IWFM Awards – about finding the next generation of workplace and facilities professionals, upskilling and the characteristics of a brilliant manager.
"The recruitment industry in the UK is one of the most mature and saturated of anywhere in the world, but our customers remain our priority," says Adam LaFaci, Senior Manager, Hays Construction & Property. For Hays, it's about service quality and compliance and that's what their clients’ value. But it's also about relationships. LaFaci explains: "Hays aim to partner with professionals over the duration of their careers, ensuring we offer advice and assistance whenever needed."
As we moved the conversation forward, we tackled Hays' response to the skills gap currently facing our profession. Firstly, how can employers identify the skills they need vs the skills they think they need before posting a job? "Employers should begin by talent mapping existing employees; where is there a skills gap?" explains Adam, adding: "Always seek advice from experts, too; this includes IWFM members, consultants or recruiters." Career progression is all about your network, however new it is. We always advocate reaching out to other professionals you know for a second opinion as you move your career forward, to make sure your perception is reflective of the reality.
But if you're specifically hiring for a manager, what characteristics should you look out for? Adam advises: "Communication skills are crucial. The best leaders can communicate clearly and concisely. They should also lead from the front; you should never ask others to do something you're not prepared to do. This helps to get buy-in from the wider team, too." Adding: "Consistency is also really important. An excellent manager should always be consistent in their actions, communications and vision to their team. This includes building a succession plan, so the team, through training and development, has the tools it needs to continue the work they're doing even in the face of change."
If you're not already a manager, or hiring for one, but want to know how to upskill and develop, listen carefully. Adam says: "Always seek mentorship; ask for a mentor to learn from and bounce ideas off. And look beyond your current remit. To progress into management, you need to take yourself out of your own personal comfort zone, so asking your superior for more responsibility should always be at the forefront of your mind." He also identified courses as an effective way to upskill, be it part-time training offered by your employer or a short course you can complete at your own pace.
What facilities companies are looking for is also changing. Hays has seen a rise in demand for customer-service orientated professionals, as well as employees that can problem solve and provide clients with innovative solutions rather than saying no. The increase of focus on workplace is also taking affect. Adam explains: "Due to the development of facilities to include workplace management, such as wellbeing, we're seeing that employers want professionals with a broader set of skills outside of the traditional soft/hard/H&S service delivery." The move towards workplace is a positive one by all accounts and something we're driving at IWFM, in part with our name change last year which, in turn, introduced a new mission and vision to look beyond the built environment.
Finally, we discussed qualifications as the workplace and facilities sector continues to professionalise, moving away from the traditional view that you didn't need any qualifications to work in the industry. According to Adam, qualifications are becoming a major differentiator between low-skilled and high-calibre candidates: "Health and safety qualifications are a must; IOSH is a minimum requirement for all management-level staff."
Evidently, as a profession we must adapt towards the skill sets required for new workplace environments: more dynamic, technology-led buildings and services. There are more technical facilities management roles than ever, such as in critical environments and data centre professionals. The answer? Finding a way to bring new talent to the sector; to make facilities management a 'career of choice.' This is something we are actively striving towards at IWFM, with the launch of our Career of Choice programme later this month following a successful pilot of the programme in schools earlier this year for World FM Day.
Find out more about Hays FM and this year’s Manager of the Year category on the IWFM Awards website. Also, watch out for updates about our Career of Choice programme and engage with us on Twitter @IWFM_UK.