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Setting the stage for young FM professionals

At the European Facility Management Conference (EFMC) in Sofia I gave a pecha kucha style presentation about the need to set the stage in FM for young professionals.
Why? These bright young minds are already quite engrossed in their professional career, but rarely seen in an active role within FM associations or FM standards development.

Are FM associations obsolete? And what about FM standards development?

The first question one could ask is if associations and standards committees are still of this time? We aim at attracting involved professionals who will share their knowledge and create a bond between members. This way an association or standards committee could be the incubator for innovation within our trade. This all sounds good and will create a solid base of live long friends too, but unfortunately the business model of associations, and for that also the standard bodies, is quite obsolete. You have to pay in order to share your knowledge and ideas…

The second question one could ask is if the new generation is attracted to the functions we organize. When asked if they would organize FM events the same way as they are now, the answer was always: NO!

So it seems we have a problem. If we are not able to fix this, our FM associations and the development of FM standards will become the territory of predominantly aging white men and ultimately become obsolete.


Let’s not try to solve all problems at once

For a couple of years I’ve been involved in the development of FM standards, both at European and international levels. Here I see the same familiar faces I also see at international FM events. It seems only a small number of FM professionals are really committed to raising the bar for our profession. Most professionals are just involved and do not invest time or other resources.

Supporting a world of disruption

At the same time we can not deny that the world we live in is changing: an aging population, the rise of technology, disruptive new ideas and ensuing startups that might change our industry. And this all is occurring at an incredible speed.
This poses huge challenges for the various businesses and organizations in the world and affects the workplace in no small manner. For FMs it means we have to become more agile and focus less on efficiencies only if we aim at helping our demand organizations in reaching their goals. We have to truly understand their business goals and strategies to reach these and make sure our own strategies support the core business.

27-inspiring-employee-engagement-quotes-3-638Who understands the workplace needs of the day after tomorrow?

But do we really understand the workplace demands of the day after tomorrow? We might need to support functions in the workplace that do not exist yet and might have business needs we can not fathom. In order to prepare for these paradigm shifts we need competencies that were not necessarily part of our job description when we were hired.


New competencies needed

Typically these new and highly desired competencies such as curiosity, creativity, taking initiative, multi-disciplinary thinking and empathy seem to be abundant amongst the new generation of FMs. This might not be the case for all, but I’ve met quite a few who seem to fit the profile.
When asked if they would be willing to work on future FM standards at first they seem reluctant: they feel that they lack the experience the ‘more seasoned’ FMs have and possibly feel a little inadequate. The one thing they do have – and we don’t – is the fact that they will spend many decades in a workplace that has yet to be developed, and they do have an idea of what might work for them and what won’t. And most of the FMs currently drafting FM standards will be retired by then.

So how can we set the stage for young FM professionals?

That’s a questions we all should ponder. However, when contemplating my own circle of influence I do see some possibilities.

In the ISO/TC267 Facility Management we have a strategic advisory group called ‘Road map’. Here we are constantly scouting for topics that are worthy of new standards to help the profession further develop. When we find these ‘little pearls’, we prepare outline proposals for what we call new work items, that will develop into new ISO FM standards.

motivational-job-quotesWhat do I have to offer to young FM professionals?

I’ve committed myself to setting up a mirror Road map group consisting entirely of young FM professionals under the age of 25. This group can work in parallel with the existing Road map group and focus entirely on topics they find relevant for the further development of our profession without being steered into a specific direction. My aim for this group is to start the development of the first future proof FM standard in 2019.
What we offer is coaching by seasoned FM experts and entrance to a very relevant professional network.

So if you are under 25, working in FM and believe you can make a difference, please contact me. Together we’ll find a way through uncharted territories and raise the bar for FM.

This blog was originally posted on, 25 June 2018

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