Effective Facility Management is all about communications. Whether you are managing office space, maintaining building systems, developing strategic asset plans or all of the above, good communication skills are essential.Communications includes written material, presentations and even verbal discussions one-on one and in meetings. While each of these formats has it's own challenges, the essence of good communication is the same no matter which medium you use.The most significant variables for good communications is the audience and the goal - or message - you are trying to achieve.
Before composing your communication, assess the audience. Even the best intentions can fail unless you communicate with your audience in a way they understand. This is not an easy task, but by looking closely at what the audience want or needs to hear, you can tailor your communications for maximum effectiveness. Consider how each element of your communication is received by the audience. This includes the level of detail, type of information, tone, wording and even the message. Keep in mind that often your communications will span across different audiences with different needs.
Part of the planning includes understanding what the audience's interest is. For an article in a building newsletter, the occupants will want to know what it means to them. The reader of a business case will want to know what decision is necessary and what impact it will have. For a new policy, the audience needs to know exactly what is expected, and why it is being implemented.
Your message, or goal, must be carefully integrated throughout the communication. For the newsletter, this may be gaining support for changes or showing the occupants how proactive you are. The business case may be selling your position to someone who can approve it. The policy may explain a new and unpopular policy in a way that ensures support and adherence to it.
In addition to the ideas above, you can improve your communications by following these key points:
- Be clear about your goal or message before you start to write.
- Provide information that is appropriate to the audience.
- Organize your information so it is easy to absorb.
- Be short and concise - don't make it longer than it needs to be and don't use long sentences or big words.
- Consider what the audience wants to hear about, not just what you want to say.
- Don't assume too much - spell it out if there is any doubt.
While technical skills and knowledge are often emphasized for Facility Managers, a focus on softer skills such as communications is becoming increasingly important for success.
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