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Questions Are Nuggets Of Gold

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL

When managing your property staff, encourage them to ask as many questions as possible. In general, people are afraid to ask questions because they think it makes them look less qualified. However, you must listen and treat each question like a nugget of gold. As a property manager you need to train your staff on the ins and outs of your business, but if they are not sure about something, encourage them to ask questions. Otherwise, acting without direction may have serious ramifications!

Hearing questions before an action is taken should be like music to your ears, when compared to hearing about a mishap or a mistake made because they didn’t ask. For example, would you want to risk to an employee’s safety because a team member failed to ask a question about proper safety procedures? Also keep in mind that when something takes longer to do or makes your staff work harder, don’t scream at them for asking, “Why must it be done this way?” and respond with an “it’s my way or the highway” type response. Instead, explain that it is for the greater good of the property, the building ownership, or that it is a requirement of the insurance policy. Make it clear to everyone involved why there are certain processes and procedures in place. In so many cases, if people do not understand the reasons, it can create confusion and problems. Life is hard enough without being caught in the trap of not dotting those I’s and crossing those T’s. Not only does it hurt the individual, when the issue catches up to them, but it causes hardship to the building owner, the company, the customers, and all of your coworkers as well. If people are not sure, they need to be trained to ask! Also remind them to think about every decision they make and visualize all of the outcomes.

Encouraging questions also helps to iron out any miscommunications. If one person is not clear, maybe nobody is clear, but they too, were afraid to ask. By encouraging questions everybody learns. In turn, this allows communication to improve across the entire organization. For example, the failure of staff member to ask a question pertaining to the interpretation of a vendor contract or a clause on a certificate of insurance can cause serious financial hardship to the property owner. The outcome of this example could be very serious and completely avoided if your staff stops, thinks about the value of a question, and asks!

In my career, the most destructive employees I have ever encountered were those that did not ask questions. If someone stops asking me questions, it is a “Red Flag.” As property managers, it is our job to be available to the team, but we must also recognize those employees who are failing to question or inquire when conditions or situations are not typical. It is no different when you need to ask a question of your supervisor or building owner when you are not crystal clear about a subject or issue. Every issue property managers come upon have so many variables that it is almost impossible to know everything. Keep an open line of communication and embrace the nuggets of gold that come from your employees. The motto should always be “If you aren't sure? Ask!”

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