High Fidelity

Written by: Steve Roots
Published on: 7 Oct 2019

Steve RootsVolunteering at a senior level presents unique challenges and, more importantly, benefits one’s professional development, says Steve Roots.

I served as IWFM chair for two-and-a-half years until June, and it has been a remarkable period in my professional life. I’ve given back to the institute, but also gained skills and knowledge about the operations and governance of business and professional bodies.

I replaced Julie Kortens as chair in January 2017, building on the strong foundations she had laid following a turbulent 2015 and 2016.

What I wanted for IWFM

My starting point was to focus on three key aims:  

  • To ensure that the institute had a sound financial base.  
  • To reflect the changes in the sector and business more generally.
  • To help it become a customer-facing organisation and the professional body of choice for facilities managers.

What we achieved

To deliver these aims, we modernised our internal systems and external interfaces. For example, we installed a new customer relationship management (CRM) system as our previous system was creaky because it (like our old website) was built on an ageing platform.

Our new website followed, along with our rebrand, in November 2018. We set about the complex and sometimes daunting task of evolving a business that had recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

The executive team also set about modernising the institute’s operational structure and working practices. CEO Linda Hausmanis and her team used the new CRM system to improve methodologies of working and always put our members first.

Everyone should volunteer

I’ve gained valuable experiences from volunteering for the institute that far outweighed any call on my time.

There are many opportunities for others to volunteer with the IWFM, applying their skills and enthusiasm to the profession’s advancement, and I recommend doing so. You could join:  

  • A regional group;  
  • A special interest group (SIG); or  
  • One of four board sub-committees (Audit & Risk; Constitution & Ethics; Awards Organisation and Nominations & Remuneration) to support, advise and guide the main board on financial governance, educational standards and membership rules.

Visit an SIG or regional group meeting to find out more. Those interested in sitting on a board committee can visit the IWFM website’s ‘About’ and ‘How We Operate’ sections.

Three considerations when volunteering at a senior level

1 Varied tasks
You’ll need to support multiple arms of the business. The role of senior volunteers, such as chair, is as much about providing support and guidance to the executive running of the business as it is about supporting and representing the interests of the membership and completing non-member-related tasks. This adds variety and challenges that make the role more dynamic.

2 Time needed
It varies, depending upon the role, but as a board member you need to be able to commit to between four and six days a year for board meetings, and an additional few hours a week.

3 Useful skills and personal characteristics  

  • Integrity;  
  • Competence;  
  • Insight;  
  • Dedication;  
  • Effectiveness;  
  • Approachability;  
  • A willingness to change your view when a compelling case is presented; and  
  • To be open to making contacts and friends to last a lifetime.  

Three key takeaways from my time at IWFM

1 You get out what you put into it: Volunteering for a senior role within IWFM is a win-win situation. I’ve gained skills, contacts and friends. It has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.

2 We can elevate the profession: Like many in our industry, I’m passionate about what we do and how we make a difference to organisations, places and culture. I believe that facilities and workplace management professionals need to be strongly represented and that the IWFM is best placed to do this.

3 Nothing is consistent apart from change: Organisations need to reflect, draw upon their historical foundations and modernise to remain representative and relevant. Change can be painful but, when managed correctly, change should lead to new opportunities and strengthen the position of the institute.

Steve Roots is the former IWFM chair and senior FM at Matalan