Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Who's Next?

Let’s say tomorrow is your last day of work. You’ve made it to retirement and you’re looking forward to sleeping in, maybe taking some classes or taking up a new hobby, traveling, and spending time with family. Or you’re relocating because your spouse has been transferred across the country, or because you’ve always wanted to live in Seattle and there’s no time like the present. Or—my favorite fantasy—you’ve won a significant lottery jackpot and you’re set for life. Whatever the reason, it’s time to turn in your keys, wave to your co-workers, and head out of the campus parking lot for the last time as an employee.

Who is stepping into your position?

CP&M recently polled our readers, asking: “Do you have a succession plan in place in order to maintain smooth operations?” The results were not surprising… and also not promising: 12 percent said they have a detailed, documented plan in place. Fifty percent said they don’t have anything formal in place, and 37 percent said no plan is in place but they realize it’s a concern they should look into.

According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the average facility manager is 49 years old; has 28 years of total work experience, with 16 years in facility management; is personally responsible for the entire facility space and manages multiple functions, including operations, maintenance and energy management; and has seen his responsibilities increase over the past few years and can only expect this trend to continue. If he leaves his position tomorrow, or next year, he takes with him an incalculable collection of knowledge and experience that your institution depends on in order to function.

It’s not too soon to start planning. Encourage facilities department personnel who have not earned FM degrees to do so. Recruit FM graduates from accredited schools. Encourage senior talent to mentor less-experienced team members. Define career paths within the FM department. Encourage less-experienced and younger team members to build industry and association relationships. Also, offer experienced managers who are moving towards retirement the opportunity to consult on a part-time basis.

Don’t feel that you need to build a succession plan from scratch. APPA and the IFMA are just two sources that offer guidance and information on planning for a smooth transition. Start now, and when the time comes to transition to new leadership, you can do so with confidence.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of College Planning & Management.

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