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Facilities Management Myths Debunked: What It Really Takes to Lead

Featuring: Michael Ganton, VP of Facilities & EVS at Yaamava’ Resort and Casino

May 16, 2024


Imagine a role that intertwines technical expertise with strategic business acumen, often hidden behind the scenes yet fundamental to an organization’s success. This is the real world of facilities management, far from the common myths that circumscribe it. Meet Michael Ganton, Vice President of Facilities & Environmental Services (EVS) at Yaamava' Resort and Casino at San Manuel, who uses his decades of experience to dispel these common misconceptions.

The Role of a Facilities Manager

Facilities management goes beyond the superficial understanding of fixing leaks and repainting walls. "A good facilities leader needs to understand the equipment, the programming—it’s very technical. You're dealing with equipment that can have a major impact, from electrical systems to air conditioning," explains Ganton. This role requires a sophisticated grasp of technology and an acute awareness of how each decision affects the broader organizational objectives. Ganton stresses the importance of strategic thinking and the capability to foresee how facilities decisions support business outcomes and enhance operational efficiency.

Myth 1: It's All About Maintenance

One common misconception is that facilities management is solely about maintenance. Ganton counters this myth, emphasizing the strategic nature of the role. "When you think facilities, people think plumbing or paint. The truth is, true facility leaders are much more fluid and highly skilled technically, with a clear understanding of the business they support," he shares. He further explains that facilities management involves a dynamic range of responsibilities, from ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations to enhancing the aesthetic and functional aspects of the environment to boost staff productivity and customer satisfaction.

Myth 2: The Qualifications Are Basic

Another myth is that the skills or qualifications needed for success in facilities management are minimal. Ganton highlights the depth of knowledge required: "Do you have to have a doctorate in every trade? No, but you have to have a clear understanding of what that equipment is and how it affects operations and each other." Today's facilities managers must be well-versed in modern control systems, regulatory compliance and even social media, as these elements play crucial roles in shaping the organizational brand. Ganton points out that a successful facilities manager today needs to be as comfortable with spreadsheet management and budget forecasting as they are with a toolbox.

Myth 3: Facilities Management Only Handles Routine Tasks with No Strategic Impact

Many believe that facilities management is confined to routine tasks and has little to do with the strategic thrusts of an organization. This myth underestimates the profound impact that facilities management can have on an organization's goals. Ganton addresses this misconception by highlighting specific strategic initiatives driven by facilities management, such as sustainability efforts, optimizing energy efficiency and integrating smart technology systems that not only reduce costs but also elevate the organization's market position. These efforts not only align with but actively propel broader business objectives such as reducing environmental impact, enhancing operational efficiency and improving customer engagement through better facilities experiences.

Leadership vs. Management

Distinguishing between leadership and management in facilities operations is crucial. "Leadership involves engagement and collaboration. It’s about supporting your team in the trenches and working hand in glove to keep the business operational," explains Ganton. True leadership in facilities involves foresight and proactive planning, ensuring that the facilities team is always ahead of the curve, ready to adapt to new regulations or technological advancements. Ganton also underscores the need for leaders to cultivate resilience and adaptability among their teams, skills that are critical in navigating the fast-paced changes typical in large operations.

Advice to Aspiring Facilities Managers

In his advice to younger professionals, Ganton emphasizes patience and a willingness to learn continually. "Enjoy the ride. Take so much more enjoyment of not just going ahead and doing things but learning new things and expanding yourself," he advises. He encourages aspiring managers to seek diverse experiences and to be open to feedback, as this is how true growth occurs.

Debunking myths about facilities management with insights from seasoned leaders like Michael Ganton not only clarifies the complexities of the role but also elevates the conversation about what it truly takes to lead in this critical field. As we uncover the truths, we inspire a new generation to redefine leadership in facilities management, ensuring they are equipped to meet and exceed the demands of tomorrow's business landscape.

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