Skills focus in 2020

Written by: Fraser Talbot
Published on: 6 Jan 2020

Fraser Talbot Upskilling is a prerequisite to success in the current labour market. Fraser Talbot helps to direct your learning in 2020.

In the face of unprecedented challenges – from uncertainty surrounding Brexit and technological disruption to the climate emergency and the changing nature of work – our profession must maximise the opportunities that arise. But we need the appropriate knowledge and skills. Here are three key focus areas for your personal development in 2020.

1. Technology and data

Our 2018 research Embracing Technology to Move FM Forward found that of four possible futures, our professionals foresaw their tech future as a digital upgrade; the same as now with a little more tech to support us.

But most respondents believe the rate of technological change is increasing and shaking up the way we work. We must understand current and future digital technologies and their likely impact on the workplace.

There are also practical and ethical implications in the use of technology to support the workplace. As with any change, some people will gain while others lose, and the likely impacts and outcomes aren’t always immediately apparent.

Data is critical in effective decision-making and will help our professionals to understand the users of their facilities better and resolve problems faster. Understand what workplace data is available, its value to your organisation and the ethical implications of using it – especially personal data.

2. Workplace vision

Employers are competing for the next wave of talent that has high expectations; forward-thinking employers are exploring how employee experience can be their competitive advantage.

If your organisation is looking at how its workplace environment can support talent acquisition and retention, you will need to understand how to build a robust, evidence-based case for workplace change, including how your organisation’s workplace practices align to its vision and values.

Insight into workplace behaviours will reveal how your organisation is affected by individual and organisational behaviour and how these impact on culture and performance.

There will be opportunities for workplace change but you must develop plans to overcome barriers to change, especially within a demographically diverse workplace.

Influencing skills will be critical to deal with this diverse range of stakeholders and to manage workplace change.

3. Cultural competence

In our report Managing Facilities or Enabling Communities? Embracing Culture to Move FM Forwards, we spoke about FM's negative feedback loop.

We’re proud of our profession, gain satisfaction from our work and the contribution to the organisations we support, however, we still face the same problems and challenges that beset our predecessors, particularly 
a lack of recognition, voice and resources.

The negative feedback loop means the profession is not valued or understood and, therefore, lacks resources and support to act strategically, which means it focuses on operational activities that are ‘essential’ but not really valued by those outside our profession.

We break out of this loop by thinking and acting differently. It's time to choose the aspects of our current culture we retain and those we leave behind.

In our research we asked what the profession should do differently and why. There were common responses about the need for the profession to be better educated, more customer-focused, strategic, people-focused and innovative.

Most responses focused on the ‘what’ we need to do differently as opposed to the ‘why’, but ‘why’ drives human behaviour and decision-making. When respondents talked about the ‘why’, the motives were in service of the profession itself, rather than the people and organisations we support.

It’s critical that we develop our ‘cultural competence’ and understand what people need from us, why, and how best to meet their needs. We must not impose solutions on customers or engage with them only when they have a problem. If we are about enabling communities, then our relationships with our customers must reflect this. 

Fraser Talbot is head of professional development at the IWFM