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Talk to the Hand! How to Deal with Difficult People

Written by Jackie Ramstedt and Rommel Anacan   Let’s face it, the universe is filled with difficult people! Don’t you have days when it feels like every difficult person in the world lives at your community, works in your office, or lives in your home? (Admit it, you’re thinking of that one person right now, aren’t you?) The multifamily industry is a people business and while we’d all love the opportunity to handpick who we get to “play with”each day that just isn’t happening. Every workplace has negative people who erode morale. They’re not always easy to pick out of a crowd, but they can do an amazing amount of damage over time. Most of the time, these folks don’t make the big mistakes that call attention to themselves. They’re frequently pretty good at their jobs, so they’re not called on the carpet too often. But “you know” who they are. Like a virus running in the background of a computer program, their acidic personalities eat away at the goals and ultimately the bottom line of the company week after week, year after year. Who are these people? They’re people who… a.     Continually find things to complain about and exaggerate the seriousness of co-workers’mistakes. b.     Love to spread gossip, start rumors that pit employees against one another, and then stand back and humorously watch while their venomous deeds unfold. c.      Always talk behind co-workers’backs and look to gain allies for their side. d.     Undermine supervisors’authority with a never-ending flow of criticism that stays under-the-radar so it’s ra......
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Employee Engagement: What Are the Top Three Factors That Companies Use Today?

b2ap3_thumbnail_toni-and-jackie-for-employee-engagement-for-NAA-2015.jpgUnderstanding the work force and the unique combination of multiple generations working together in one office is challenging enough. But getting your employees to actually use their discretionary efforts, meaning their own choices to be actively involved in decisions for the company’s best interests seems to be the ultimate challenge in today’s overly demanding world. Employees don't check their personalities at the door when they come to work. Knowing that they are respected as individuals at work can have a significant impact on how employees view their overall lives. Balance between personal and work life are crucial to gaining employee engagement. If an employee has issues in their personal life it will drift into the work environment. The line between “home and work” has been very gray for a number of years. According to Forbes.com, the definition of employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals. The Gallup Business Journal indicates that there are three types of employees: (see attached graphic) A.     The Engaged Employee who works with the company and feels a passion for the company and its future. These are the employees who excel in their performance and whom the company looks to for solutions. B.     The Not-Engaged Employee who has essentially “checked out” and is literally on mindless cru......
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It's That Time of Year Again: Budget Season!

It's That Time of Year Again: Budget Season!
As with any professional business, everything revolves around the aspect of the money. Before anyone can make or manage the money, you have to figure out how to spend it. Whether we like it or not, budgets are a key component of good management practices at your properties. Most multifamily professionals feel that the main responsibility of their company is catering to residents. True, but we need to remember that it still IS, in fact, a business. And we need to have a solid roadmap to accomplish our business goals. Making a profit should be foremost in our minds…daily. It’s that delicate balance of dealing with two sides of the equation: the “human side” and the “financial side”, both paramount in the success of your performance. Every decision has a price tag attached to it: if it’s a $5.00 decision…make it! But if it is a $5,000.00 decision …better get some council and do your homework! It all comes down to your ability to make a profit without jeopardizing the integrity of the operation. Yet at the same time, you have to maintain a good reputation for residents and prospective residents. With that in mind, here are some words of wisdom before you embark on your budgeting journey. Control the Controllables! Prepare yourself for the budgeting process mentally, emotionally, and physically. Set aside specific times when you devote yourself to working on the budget. If you can, delegate some of the tasks to your staff. And help yourself be on top of your game by g......
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Remembering Those Whom We Love and Have Lost

During this joyous, happy time of the holiday season can also bring reminders of those events and special people whom we have lost, whether in the past few years, or more recently.Although many of us have "one less plate" at our dinner tables this year, including my own family, we must remember the good things their lives brought to us and those around them. One name immediately comes to mind, Russ Sandlin, who passed away much too soon, as he  touched so many of our lives and our industry as a whole. Your legacy will live on through those of us who learned so much from you.But I write this "short blog" not only in honor and rememberance of those who are gone, but especially for the living who are currently suffereing in pain themselves from a child or loved one who is still "in the middle of the battle".   Our wonderful friend and mentor, Anne Sadovsky, lost her sweet mother, yesterday, November 28th,  who had been struggling with a long illness battle. Anne was by her side.Our Miss Anne is heart broken and that is why I felt compelled to put this "out there" for all those who know Anne and to please pray for her and her family for strength and peace. It's never easy whether during the battle or at the end, for you and your loved one. And since it is during such an important holiday time of year, it  will  bring a change to this season for them, at least for now.For all who have known loss......
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“Talk Isn’t Cheap, It’s Priceless!”

Wikipedia defines “customer service as the provision of service to customers before, during, and after a purchase. Therefore customer service is, a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction, that a product or service has met that customer’s expectation." Its importance varies by product, industry and customer; defective or broken products can just be exchanged, often only with a receipt within a certain amount of time. Retail stores often have a desk or counter devoted to dealing with returns, exchanges and complaint issues. But how about what the customer feels? We are no longer in a “local” world, where our words and actions are only seen or heard by just the people in our “little neck of the woods”. Hundreds of web sites are out there for the customer to “air their dirty laundry” and voice their opinions” about literally everything. And social media web sites have opened a whole new venue to let people know, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” and unfortunately, most times it is about the “ugly or negative aspects” of their experiences that people look for most! Have you seen what people are talking about on FaceBook, MySpace, or Twitter?! Can you imagine someone talking about you and your property? There are many ways of measuring our customer’s satisfaction through surveys, phone calls, or in person conversations when we see them. But to ensure that we have focused our attention on the right areas, we can measure our efforts by utilizing......
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It's That Time of Year...AGAIN!

Oh joy! The holidays are here! That means everyone starts their annual rituals of “whirl wind” mass quantity buying sprees for foods you normally would never eat, hunting for that “extra special” gift for people who you know are going to either “re-gift it the minute they get home OR return it for the money, major schedule manipulations balancing work deadlines, party invitations and unique family gatherings so “those people” who talk smack about the whole family can get along for at least a few hours in the same room together, ALL WHILE our emotions are running rampant ranging from deliriously happy to borderline psychotic episodes Well, let me remind you that the 1950’s are long gone, and quite frankly never did exist except in the “minds of those family members who still today live in Mayberry”. Family gatherings today have such different meaning as the “blending of people, cultures, and expectations” can be diametrically opposed. “That’s not how we did it when I was growing up!” becomes the mantra for this special time of year. So how do we cope with such an increased stress level to not only live through this time of year without doing more damage to ourselves OR our families and friends?  Remember you can’t change or control others, so your only alternative is to change YOU and YOUR responses. After researching several web sites on this matter, I found some terrific suggestions that made good sense and might be worth trying to help us all......
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What Does "Strong" Look Like?

Most of you know I am always reading something because I’m always “waiting on something”….someone to pick me up, for the plane to arrive, for my baggage to finally show up, you know…waiting. So as not to leave one moment unproductive while I’m on the road, I am currently reading a great book by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton called “NOW, Discover Your Strengths”. What struck me as funny as I began reading was the fact that I am always trying to “uncover” the talents in others through role playing and other brainstorming exercises in my seminars and consulting sessions, to show them how to utilize those talents to get what they want in life, whether though a better career position or just by being more effective in their personal lives.  Rarely have I stopped to look in the mirror at my “own talents” or my “own strengths”. The book begins with this question, “What DOES strong look like?”  Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world answers it this way… “I may have more money than you do, but money doesn’t make the difference. I would rather have a cheeseburger from Dairy Queen than a $100.00 meal. The only difference between you and me is that I get up every day and have a chance to do what I love to do, everyday. If you want to learn anything from me, this is the advice I can give you.” The author continues “So in a sense maybe he......
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AHHHHHHHHHHHH! It’s FALL!

Fall is my all time favorite time of year!!! The temperatures start to get cooler, and in Texas that’s something we all look forward to! Everyone’s schedule begins to speed up…Friday night football games, Homecoming events, decorations of pumpkins, beautiful fall leaves, and scarecrows with bales of hay, laughter and giggles while eating tasty chili and delicious brisket, snuggly blankets on a hayride wagon pulled by horses, the warmth of a crackling fire, while cooking marsh mellows for “somores” …and oh yeah…it’s BUDGET TIME!!!! Just as we are enjoying a huge sigh of relief from “the summer slam of activities”, we begin a whole new endeavor of gathering statistical information from the current year, analyzing our performance from every possible angle, contacting vendors for new bids regarding services and product changes for the new year, and examining every nuance of expense savings and cash flow opportunities! Of course preparation for this event is crucial: Items should include the following: A full stocked “adult refreshment bar” for you AND your immediate supervisor. It is imperative that all parties involved are happy! The “good candy”, you know what I mean! All types of “migraine medicine” to be “periodically combined” with the adult beverages for a more calming effect so you don’t bite off everyone’s head at work! A gross of pens, paper, pencils, a calculator, paperclips, file folders, highlighters, and any other type of office supplies you deem necessary to fill your desk to “look very busy all the time”! Band aids for blisters on your fingers and wrist spl......
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Have You Ever Been To A Brainstorming Event?

Tami Siewruk is a genius! There, I said it! If you are in the multifamily industry and don’t know who this incredible woman is, then shame on you! You have missed out on over 15 years of the most unbelievable event to have ever been created for our industry…bar none! This event is like NO OTHER you have ever attended or NONE OTHER in our industry today. Tami and her amazingly talented team have, year after year, produced this awe inspiring event that gets even better every year. Truly, I still don’t know how she manages to be “bigger and better” EVERY YEAR! The national talent Tami coordinates is composed of the industry’s biggest and brightest professional stars facilitating, speaking, educating, and sharing all their knowledge of today’s leading marketing, sales, management, social media, and training solutions and concepts. I began attending in 1995 and haven’t missed an event since. The people you meet, the networking opportunities you gain, and most of all the solutions and ideas you leave with are astounding! A few years ago Tami decided that even though 1,000 + people attending was, by any standard a huge success, wouldn’t it be even better if we could get the owners and executives of the management companies to attend as well. Her thought was, when solving today’s real challenges certain groups of people have “common” challenges based on their position. So the event has grown into TWO sessions: The “Main Event” for Regional Managers, Training Directors, Marketing Directors, Directors......
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"Does Being A Good Sales Professional Make You A Good Manager?"

As with many individuals in the multifamily industry, I too started out "on site" as a leasing consultant. In those days just having a "friendly, outgoing  personality"  seemed to be the key to being successful. Listening to the customers and helping them with their housing concerns was an easy task and career advancements were sometimes more "being in the right place at the right time" than actual promotions. The  "natural career path" seemed to move through to the next level as Assistant Manager and then on to Community Manager.  It was either "survival of the fittest with the ability to learn on your own", or "have the good fortune of working for a company who actually believed in education" that allowed you to thrive.  But in this age of massive competition and marketing information overload, being "friendly or outgoing" is only a fraction of the skills needed to work in our highly competitive world today. You must make a difference for your very existence in any company.  Performance records, global reputation, and a positive attitude of doing whatever it takes to get the job done right within the boundaries of still being morally and ethically sound, will skyrocket your career to whatever heights you choose.    So the question that is posed is this, "Can a good sales consultant have the skills necessary to become a good property manager?" I personally have lived through a plethora of job titles and responsibilities over my career life time, but I have realized that there......
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