A successful facilities manager’s reputation is closely connected to their relationships with people inside their organization, but it also can be enhanced by external relationships. When a facilities manager has strong relationships with facilities professionals outside of their health care organization, they can turn to them when they need input or advice, which can help build their reputation within their organization.

“There are 6,000 or so hospitals in this country, so nothing that is happening to you hasn’t happened to someone else,” says York Chan, CHFM, CHC, SASHE, who recently retired after nearly 40 years in facilities management for Advocate Health Care in Chicago. “So, if you have connections with facilities managers at other hospitals, you can pick up the phone and call them.”

Chan says he also developed relationships with the authorities having jurisdiction, from local health departments to The Joint Commission, and peers who sat on the code-writing bodies, such as ASHRAE. That way, if someone asked him why a particular code provision specified something, he could quickly go to the source and get an answer.

“If someone at Advocate asked me any questions about emergency generators, for example, I could say a friend of mine used to chair the committee that wrote the code, and I can pick up the phone and call them,” Chan says.

Danielle Gathje, CHFM, director of plant operations for M Health Fairview in Maplewood, Minn., also advocates for the development of connections outside the hospital. She says the relationships she creates with people in engineering firms, general contractors and other architecture-engineering-construction businesses often pay off.

“If we get into a bind or have questions, I can rely on those people to help me,” she says. “All of them have different, valuable pieces of information. I don’t have the same educational background as many of them. It’s really valuable to be able to dip into different knowledge bases and call people about various topics.”