Do you really understand the value of a better customer experience for your employees and residents? If you truly understand the value, then your answer should be “yes” to the question, “Are you prepared to fire your “favorite” property manager?”
Despite plenty of evidence that happy employees are good for a company's bottom line, there is a property manager at this very moment making someone’s life miserable.
If you’ve ever worked for someone with poor leadership performance and skills, you certainly understand how inconsistency, negativity and unpredictability can diminish your sense of job motivation and company loyalty. It’s like being in an abusive relationship. My first job in the property management industry was short lived for this very reason. I still recall the day I walked out of the office thinking to myself, “Whew! I don't have to deal with that abuse anymore!”
My boss was a jerk, but she was also someone’s “favorite.”
Property management companies spend thousands of dollars recruiting and training new employees. When an employee walks out the door, that investment walks out with them. Employees leave for many reasons and this is one of them.
Why do companies allow these managers to stick around? Here are a few reasons.
- The owners love them
- The manager is related to someone that works at the corporate office
- The manager has dirt on someone that works at the corporate office
- The manager has a lot of tenure
If you are shaking your head thinking, “I am glad that doesn’t happen at my company,” you are greatly mistaken. It’s usually the person you would least expect—the successful, popular, favorite, and sometimes award winning manager. They have escaped the radar.
Things that make you go hmmm…
1.Take Off the Blinders
I grew up around horses and spent many years with my family at the race track. Race horses wear blinders to keep them focused on the race and limit peripheral vision to avoid distractions. Leaders are also responsible for focusing on the race BUT their job is to remove distractions—not avoid them. This is where the problems usually begin. They simply avoid them.
How do you remove the blinders? One way is to evaluate your managers—really evaluate them.
If you want to deliver a great customer experience you have to listen to and understand the customers you serve—internal and external. If you want to know what they think, you have to be willing to take off the blinders and ask the hard questions. While asking is one thing, listening and taking action is another.
Employee evaluations are great tools for removing blinders. In my experience, the 360 evaluation is one of the best!
As the name implies, a 360 employee evaluation is an evaluation where more than just the direct supervisor provides feedback on performance. Instead, everyone who works with, by, and for the manager whose performance is being evaluated provides feedback on his or her performance, providing a better overall picture of the performance. This tool not only make it easier for supervisors to gauge employees' performance, but they can also result in higher employee satisfaction, because managers know that their raises are not contingent only on a supervisor's narrow view of what they do or don't do.
It’s called accountability!
Do you know that younger workers—Gen Y—are most likely to equate their experience with your company with the quality of their leaders?
2. Train Them
It still amazes me that there are managers running multi-million dollar assets that have never received formal training on how to manage and lead others. Even the best property manager—your “favorite” manager—can turn out to be a terrible leader because you can’t lead people using “manager” skills. It’s entirely different.
All too often we promote or move these unprepared managers into leadership roles without providing adequate preparation or development. Communication, feedback, and relationship building skills are essential for success. Many managers struggle because they are unskilled in these vital areas.
Leadership is about value—acknowledging and engaging the value in others, and them willingly following you for the value you bring to them. At any age and in any position in life – this is leadership. It takes time, and it takes practice.
I have a long list of favorite leadership quotes. The power of these quotes is not in the wording itself, but in how much these quotes have influenced people, and organizations all over the world.
Here are just a few…
- In the past a leader was a boss. Today's leaders must be partners with their people... they no longer can lead solely based on positional power. -Kenneth Blanchard
- Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach. -Rosabeth Moss Kantor
- Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. -Jack Welch
When employees are treated well, they desire to perform and take better care of the external customer. When they are not treated well, they don’t. You can’t get people to perform by yelling at them or using a bigger horse whip.
What would you do with a top-performing property manager that had 120 percent employee turnover within one year? Promote them to Vice President.
Yes, sometimes we make decisions that just don’t make any sense.
3. Do What Is Right—Not Easy
Unfortunately, people don't always like to do what's right—they like to do what's easy. And if they're personally not feeling the pressure from above them, it is easy to look the other way and just pretend that the manager is not part of the problem.
A customer walks in the leasing office and sees a beat-down, miserable employee who looks like she wants to cry. Then the regional manager walks in and asks this same person a simple question like "How's your day going?" and they respond with a flat "fine." The next question should be, "Why don't you seem fine?"
The reality is no one likes to expose or deal with the bully—especially if they are your “favorite.” It’s not easy. But those in a leadership role often have the power to make the change if they are willing to do what is right. A manager who bullies others into perfection while not caring about the person or the long-term effects on the company in my opinion is not a good manager. I don’t care how great their numbers look!
What will you do when you are faced with the question, “Are you prepared to fire your “favorite” manager? At the end of the day, if it makes you feel better to say, “They fired themselves,” that works too. My point is, “Are you willing to make the difficult decisions?
I know you have a story! I am anxiously waiting to hear from you.