As unique and varied as the competencies are to function in our role as effective facilities administrators, the ability to communicate effectively nears the top of the list. In the development of the dozens of position profiles I’ve compiled, the ability to communicate within the given culture of an organization maintains a prominent place in the set of required skills.
Conversely, I’ve observed the demise of many talented facilities managers predicated on the inability to translate issues into a concise and timely transfer of information. There exists a perception that organizational communications is not one of an “engineer’s” strongest areas of expertise.
Because of the unique nature of the role, the healthcare facilities manager possesses a challenging audience with an equally challenging message. With a vocabulary very distinct from the clinical, fiscal, and governing world, our communications commonly involve a dialect of codes, infrastructure, and engineering terms that are unfamiliar and often not understood. Projects we deal with involve many disciplines and the results are contingent upon a clear understanding of the strategies we develop and communicate.
The best communication strategy is to establish “need to know” expectations at all levels. Many executives require ongoing and continuous updates, while many of our “customers” would prefer only information that directly affects their area of accountability. It is best to set communication expectations case by case and be diligent in fulfilling this anticipation.
Good News, Bad News
Regardless of your audience, keep communications relevant and focused. As the saying goes “Few care about storms you encountered, but rather the safe arrival in port”. In our unique world of facilities operations, many communications are critical to the success of the organization’s mission. With that criticality, comes a tendency “sensationalize” the communication of the contributing issues. Do not editorialize your message by providing only the information that is relevant and pertinent to the listener.
Our colleagues look to us for solutions. Don’t dwell on the problems that contributed to the situation, but rather offer a series of recommendations that prioritize available solutions. Communicate viable options backed by sound justification as well as a clear picture of the pros and cons of individual recommendations.
Effective communication is an art and is crucial to any successful relationship. Work to design effective communication skills based on your organization’s needs and implement a delivery strategy that fulfills the needs of the listening audience.