Becoming a next-gen facility manager
The strategic people, building management and technology skills necessary to run the school buildings of the future.
Being a school district facility director in today’s world is not for the faint of heart. Health and safety challenges are higher than they have ever been, long-tenured facility directors are retiring- leaving stacks of paper and poor documentation for successors to muddle through and figure out, budgets are only getting tighter,
and managing and hiring staff is a constant challenge. But despite all of these hurdles, there’s a new generation of facility directors that are stepping up and thriving; finding creative solutions to today’s problems and leading teams across their district’s buildings at a point in time when building maintenance is under a microscope in every community.
These facility professionals are what we call Next Generation Facility Managers (NGFMs) and our most recent eBook examines the traits, tools, and strategies that these leaders use to push school facility management into the future.
After speaking with several Next Gen Facility Managers, it became clear to us that certain themes on strategy rang true for all of them. In our new eBook, we dive deep into these areas.
The first theme was around managing people and getting staff to embrace change. People management is an underrated skill in today's workforce, but it goes a long way in creating a positive culture and getting your team to embrace the technology and change you want to implement. “There are always learning curves, and I dedicate time when possible to working one on one with staff when it comes to new technology. I think for the most part, people are open to technology because they recognize the benefit and how it’s actually less work for them”, explains Joe Magliocca, Director of Facilities at Elmira City School District.
Next Gen Facility Managers make sure to communicate regularly, start with small projects and engage often to solicit feedback.
Now, more than ever, building strategies are critical to school districts and their communities and the next generation of facility managers embrace the responsibility and are proactive and accountable in their approach. Building management ranges from succession planning, to developing healthy building strategies, to building and creating technology standards. Succession planning is a real pain point that most facility managers face when they enter into a new district and facility and asset documentation is scarce. Lack of documentation means that when an outgoing facility director leaves, so does the knowledge on the buildings. “I’ve been in that situation before,” explains Gordy Miller, Director of Facilities at Central Valley School District, “when I got my first director’s job I was running around crawl spaces and roofs, figuring things out.” Succession planning and electronic documentation of facility records are key strategies for next-gen facility managers.
A next-generation facility manager absolutely needs to be fluent in building technologies and applications. Understanding and managing the technology stack for your facilities is crucial. A tech stack is the technology infrastructure or eco-system used to run a building. For NGFM's the tech stack is broken into 4 sections: Building Automation Systems, System Management Platforms, IT Networks, and Planning and Management Software. We explore each of these areas further inside of the eBook.
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