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Oh, how we dread these difficult conversations! 

As Managers, our most important task is to develop our teams. Easy when we are giving high fives and handing out gift cards! What happens when someone isn’t following work rules or is having performance issues?   This is the heavy lifting of being a Manager.  But, this what sets you apart and makes you a strong leader.

The word GOOD is in quotation marks in the title of this post for a specific reason.  Why?  ALL feedback is “GOOD”.  It may not all be positive, but it is all good – and necessary.  To illustrate this point, I have played a game with groups.  A person is blindfolded and given balls to throw at a target.  When the audience is silent, the person has no idea where the target is in the room and won’t come close to hitting it.  When the audience offers direction (“turn right”, “target is six feet away”), they come closer and often hit the target.  Translate this into giving employee feedback – the target represents our expectations and without feedback, the chance they’ll meet those expectations is slim.

It is pretty clear WHY feedback is important. However, the actual conversation is where the rubber meets the road.  The challenge is especially real for Property Managers. Most site teams are small and being the Manager can be lonely. It’s more fun when everyone can be “friends” and Human Resources or our Regional does the “dirty work”, right?

To all Property Managers (and aspiring PMs):  Learning to have difficult conversations is crucial in developing your teams and becoming a strong Leader. This will position your property for its best performance and position you for career growth (promotion!).    

Some tips to help you give feedback:

  • If you see something, say something: You see this in sporting venues and airports – apply it to observing employee behavior. No one can change a behavior if they don’t know it needs to be changed (and how to do it). Have conversations as quickly as possible after you observe something – don’t let someone do something wrong for two weeks while you work up the courage to talk to them about it.
  • Listen: Explain the issue and listen to their response. Maybe they didn’t understand that flip flops are not allowed, or maybe they thought their phone greeting sounded better than the company’s preferred greeting. Listening will help you to understand whether there is a misunderstanding or need for additional training.
  • Make a plan and get buy in: Work with your employee to develop a plan to resolve the issue.  It may be as simple as them agreeing to be on time for work, or it may involve working to improve certain skills. If training is needed, specify what training is required and what specific improvement is expected by when. A plan might look like:  “Take online training class on Overcoming Objections with goal to increase closing ratio to 35% in 30 days”.
  • Close the loop: Recognize improvement, even for simple things.  Whether the employee is simply getting to work on time or if they have worked to improve their closing ratio – celebrate their success.  If there is not improvement, it may be time to involve your Regional or Human Resources. They will recognize the leadership you showed by taking the first steps to resolve the issue.

Your employees want to succeed and grow. Stepping out of your comfort zone to have difficult conversations will not only help them grow, but you will grow as well!

“We all need people to give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Shawn, thanks for sharing this excellent blog! I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly. I also appreciate just how difficult it is to GIVE that not so "good" feedback. I think as an industry we don't do enough to develop our managers and supervisors with the skills they need to have those difficult conversations. I know I got absolutely zero training in this regard back when I was on site. I cringe to think of the conversations I had to lead...there were several employees I had to let go, and I'm sure I could have handled it better.

I love your ball-throwing exercise...I may have to try that one sometime! I can definitely see how it makes the point.

Sharing a resource I love: The book Crucial Conversations is everything I wish I knew as a new supervisor. The company also has a whole training program they can bring to you. But, the low-cost route of having managers and aspiring managers read the book and discuss it is a great development activity, also! https://amzn.to/3sPFl6a

Thanks again for sharing your perspective!

  Kara Rice

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