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16 January 2019
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05 February 2018 | Martin Reed


CIBSE has launched an FM compentency document.

The Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineering (CIBSE) has introduced its Knowledge Series document, KS21 Competency and Competency Management Systems in Facilities Management.

Authors Steven Hunter, Stephen Gathergood, and Jo Harris – all members of CIBSE Maintenance Task Group – spoke in support of the document, which “provides an understanding of competence and competency, focusing on the management of building engineering systems in operational buildings, although the concept is equally valid for other disciplines including management”.

At the launch event in January, Jo Harris, controls and project engineer at Eli Lilly UK, spoke about legislation and risk assessment pushing competency too far down the chain. Staff needed to be assessed accordingly, said Harris. 

However, she cautioned: “Just because you’re trained does not mean you’re competent.”

Harris said that as FMs tend to arrive into the sector from diverse backgrounds, while in charge of running buildings they may not understand engineering systems.

UK law demands competence but it does not provide a strategy to achieve it. 

“It tells you what you need, but it does not tell you what it is. It also doesn’t tell you how you get it,” added Steve Gathergood, head of infrastructure services at G4S Facilities Management.

Assessing competency is complex, said Gathergood. Ticking the boxes of generic statements does not accurately determine someone’s competency.

“Within FM, and technical FM in particular, we should be considering competencies as behaviours that excellent performers exhibit much more consistently than average performers.”

The level of competency must be “appropriate and proportionate to the risks associated with the job or task they are doing,” Gathergood continued. “Painting a wall needs less competency than switching high-voltage electricity.”

However, this does not necessarily follow in FM – because people don’t properly understand how to assess the risk of a task or job or those who are going to do them.

A competence management system (CMS) is essential, said Steve Hunter, global technical support manager at JLL, who defined competence management as, “the arrangement to control and logically integrate in a manner the cycle of activities within the organisation that that will develop and inform competent people”.

Such a CMS needs to be simple to use and maintain thorough records of assessments. It should also run through the HR department to initiate competence assessment from the beginning of the recruitment process. However, it will need to adapt as organisations, roles and staff change and evolve.