03 June 2019 | Martin Read
Martin Read discusses the value of authenticity in the FM profession.
Can a restaurant get away with describing itself as 'authentic'? Surely the word serves only to cast doubt on an establishment trying too hard. Isn't a restaurant's 'authenticity' a minimum requirement? Ah, but that's the point: the rarity of true authenticity is its appeal.
We often tell ourselves that workplace and facilities managers are the "people people" of the organisations they serve, putting to use their natural and invaluable ability to quickly adapt in tone and technique to often quite distinct conversations. Communicating effectively up and down reporting lines, as well as left and right across departments, requires almost Herculean levels of personal integrity. Do others trust that you're on their side? That you'll do what you say? That you 'get' them and their concerns? Authenticity is the empathy base layer on which other soft skills must sit.
All professions need it, but arguably none more so than FM with its endless demands for routine engagement across multiple end-user audiences.
These days we're seeing the value of creating and sustaining workplace communities increase in importance and businesses put a premium on retaining talent. There's an opportunity for workplace leaders to make their mark as the transformational organisational change projects they manage move from rare to routine. Workplace 'tribes' need bringing together, with people thinking differently and engaging in the corporate world beyond their own departments. This profession's role benefits from being apolitical in corporate terms, untainted by affiliation to one or other department because it exists to serve them all.
Speaking of authenticity, I can't end without mentioning Richard Byatt, the former IWFM communications director who died suddenly last month. A much-loved media professional, Richard had all the traits associated with the best workplace and facilities management professionals: an inquisitive mind, a juggler of multiple ongoing projects, and a man rarely if ever flustered. He always ensured that everyone involved in the projects he managed were fully included at all times. He will be remembered fondly by all who knew him.
Martin Read is editor of Facilitate Magazine