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"I Quit!" Sorta...

Over the years in this industry, many of us have experienced our share of letting people go, as well as having our employees, co-workers, and colleagues let us go in turn. I’d say the most evocative way of being let go is when a Manager/Supervisor is absent from the office and comes back to find a set of keys on his desk. Sometimes this is not unexpected, although sometimes, it completely blind sides you. First off, I’d say this person has quit with no written notice. But I’ve been told this is not necessarily true. I don’t know, but if I find keys left on the desk and the employee has clocked out and left the property, it would certainly give me pause for interpretation, wouldn’t it you?

I find this most often happens in the maintenance department. Truth be told, just as in real estate, this is a Buyer’s Market – and it’s no different in property management for our skilled employees. I feel like the shortage of really capable, loyal, and hardworking skilled professionals is so heavy in the industry right now that a Tech can command his price pretty much anywhere in the United States. Does that mean that Managers and companies should sit back and accept whatever demands our onsite Maintenance Techs present? Don’t want to work weekends? Fine, we’ll delegate it to other Techs and hope they don’t complain. Don’t feel like the Manager has spent enough time during the day shooting the breeze with you? Fine, we’ll make sure the Manager checks in often throughout the day with you. Don’t like how the Leasing Consultant asks you to stop what you’re doing but never does it to your co-worker? Fine, we’ll make sure the work orders are seen first by all Maintenance Supervisor/Techs so they are divvied up equally.

I know this sounds unreasonable.

I’m interested in knowing if anyone feels pulled because you may be keeping a skilled Tech who has real issues with attitude that does affect the team, but you keep him/her because you NEED the skills he/she brings to the table?

If a Manager is scared of losing someone, I want to know how a company is handling this real issue. Do you expect the Manager to “coddle” the one threatening to quit? Do we expect Management and HR departments to incorporate mental health training into the daily schedule?

No property runs smoothly all the time; no Management Company can be expected to have all happy employees every day. Managers and HR cannot be expected to understand what is going on with all employees at every moment. They can offer open doors to communicate and should. Whether or not teams utilize this is up to them.  At what point is it okay to just cut the line and let the person go when you walk in and find keys left on the desk?

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  • Mindy, you ask so many great questions! Very relevant! We shouldn't be so desperate for skilled team members that we retain employees who "don't play well with others," or are unreasonable in their behavior or performance. It's demoralizing to the rest of the team, and likely impacts our residents/customers too. So counsel, warn and if it isn't better, make a change for both parties. On your question about the keys, I usually give an employee one "bye" on the offer of keys, telling them if they ever offer them again, we'll be forced to take them, so to make sure they mean it. I've never had a repeat offer. It is impossible to work as a team, with mutual trust, if the other person is holding his/her keys over your head! GREAT blog! Thanks!

  • I've never heard of a key mulligan - that's great!

  • A key mulligan is a great one, hahaha!

  • Thanks, Mary! I was actually attending a Neighborhood Association meeting the other night where we discussed the shortage of capable workers in certain industries and believe it or not, the RV and property management industries were NUMBER 1 on the list!

  • stephanie

    We kept a maintenance supervisor with a huge ego and was a known liar for almost a year past when we should have let him go, He was very interesting in that he had amazing work rate, and tremendous care for the property and residents, he would lie about things that didn't matter, like, getting something done prior to the deadline, or act like he knew why a problem was happening, only to find out that it wasn't a problem at all. He would challenge our community manager or me, the regional, constantly. We all knew he had an attitude problem and we all tried to balance it. He was my most challenging employee ever. He was fired when he refused to take responsibility for not passing the health inspection for the pool when he was the one responsible for the pool. I actually didn't intend on firing him for not passing, I had to fire him because he became so irrational and irate, his attitude got him fired. It wasn't pretty, in hindsight, I wish we pulled the band-aid off as soon we identified that he was a compulsive liar. We recovered by having a temp come in while we found a replacement. You know, I learned the lesson, never be held hostage by fear of losing a good employee with a bad attitude. If they aren't happy, cut 'em loose.

  • That's a perfect example. Stephanie, of keeping someone your instinct tells you to get rid of, but they fulfill a purpose in the company and do so well enough, it's hard to justify letting them go. I completely understand! People who lie without regard to the circumstances are a challenge! I wonder why he felt the need to do so, because I can assure you, he lies because of some reason. Either he was severely punished as a child for actions done or not done, he feels he needs to create a lie to protect himself. Or, he feels very inferior and lies because he is afraid his inadequacies will inevitably be found out. (I'm sure there are other reasons too, that people lie.) That's sad. In my experience, losing someone very skilled no matter the reason puts everyone behind the eight ball, at least for a while. I hope things are much better now though - which helps to know your properties will recover from a hire gone wrong. Curing bad attitudes in the workplace is very difficult!

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