Communications: Building Engineers to Property Managers

November 20, 2019 | By: Molly Looman

In order to troubleshoot efficiently, one must know how to communicate priorities to all involved. In emergency situations, property managers and building engineers can find themselves speaking different languages.  

The First 60 Seconds

Mark Harrington of Epic thinks about what he would do in the first 60 seconds of a problem. Knowing the immediate steps after a property incident can help ease a building engineer’s mind and allow them to organize their thoughts to more effectively create a game plan. Taking 60 seconds to evaluate the problem is essential to making the best decisions to solve a problem rather than acting without a plan.  

No matter what is happening, the first 60 seconds should contain an element of communication. It could be a call to the chief engineer or an email to the property manager. Letting the essential personnel know about the problem will ensure no one is left out. The liability is then properly assigned, and the best choices are made going forward for both the company and the tenants.  

Communicate with the Whole System
Christina Fore with Daniel recently experienced an excellent example of building engineer to management communication, but it involved more than just management company staff. A chiller burst in a property as she was driving home. Once Christina arrived on the scene with her engineer, it was the cleaning and security staff that had alerted the problem and began containing the water. Training and communicating to all the building staff  will make for more efficient problem-solving.  

In order to efficiently communicate between property managers and building engineers, all levels and areas of staff need to be aware of the plan and procedures so when an emergency occurs, everyone knows what to do.  

Practice your Communication Plan

Knowing the communications plan is important but practicing it can be helpful for making sure it is clear and that everybody in the chain understands their role.  

Mark Gallman with Highwoods Properties adds that it is not only important for building engineers to pass information up the chain, but also down the chain to their staff.  Both property managers and chief building engineers need to know what information is vital to those above them and below. Due to time constraints, legal issues and insurance implications, making sure the right people know the right things can be the difference in emergency reactions going smoothly.  

Manage your Manager 
Everyone has a different communication style and knowing that can make reporting problems and receiving solutions easier and clearer. Find out how your property manager likes to be communicated with. Do they save calls for large-scale emergencies? Does the team use walkies? When is an email ok? 

Christina Fore said her top three questions she wants answered when she receives a call from a building engineer are:  

What is happening? 

How severe is it? 

Is it contained? 

 No one knows your building better than you do,” Gallman said. Learning to speak the languages of the building engineer and property manager means better communication when it counts.  


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