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Conflict Resolution: Stop, Drop & Roll

Conflict Resolution: Stop, Drop & Roll
Conflicts come in all shapes and sizes. No matter the size, one thing conflicts have in common is that they are…well, common. No one can avoid conflict forever. Even the most accommodating, conflict-avoiding person will find him or herself face-to-face with conflict eventually.  When this happens, how you respond makes all the difference. Many people react to conflict. Reacting indicates an emotionally-charged, impulsive behavior. When you react to conflict, you’re more likely to say something you’ll later regret or let your emotions get the best of you. Responding to conflict, on the other hand, requires careful, conscious decision-making before speaking or acting. Responding to conflict helps you maintain control of the situation and keep your professional reputation in tact. The trickiest part about responding to conflict is keeping your emotions in check. Anger, annoyance, or frustration can overcome good judgment in an instant. Self-awareness and a healthy dose of humility are essential to avoiding the temptation to let an emotional reaction fan the flames of discord. When faced with an angry customer, a disagreement with a colleague, or any other uncomfortable confrontation, remember to stop, drop, and roll. Stop and think. What am I about to say? Is it on topic or a personal attack? How about my tone? Am I letting my frustration show? Have I raised my voice? What about body language? Are my arms crossed or my hands on my hips? Am I frowning?    Drop the unproductive behavior. Strong emotions may be present in a conflict. That’s natural......
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The Costs of Substance Abuse to Your Community

The Costs of Substance Abuse to Your Community
Substance abuse in the workplace is more common than we’d like to think. Often, alcohol and drugs become an employee’s defense the stresses of life. Surveys indicate that slightly less than 10% of the workforce may be misusing legal or illegal substances; yet, the cost of substance abuse can affect every aspect of your community. Let’s look at three of the most common costs associated with substance abuse: Reduced ProductivityOne cost is reduced productivity from altered mental and emotional processes and the time consumed by the effects of mind-altering substances. A 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health notes that 70% of people using illicit drugs are employed. Risks to Employee Safety Another cost is the risk to employee safety. Substance abuse in the workplace increases the chances that accidents might occur while operating heavy machinery, driving vehicles, or even just working alongside others.   Risks to Company Assets Placing company assets at risk is another significant expense. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that illicit drug use costs the U.S. $181 billion annually in healthcare, productivity loss, crime, incarceration, and drug enforcement. The best way to protect against these costs is to be proactive. Work with your company to establish a zero-tolerance policy and test for drugs (if it’s legal in your area). Train everyone in the company to recognize the indicators of substance abuse and to ensure they understand the company’s policies. If possible, make professional counseling and voluntary rehabilitation options available to the employee. If you suspect a......
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Found in Translation

Found in Translation
After two years living in Buenos Aires, I came home with what I thought to be a mastery of the language. I minored in Spanish, and I felt comfortable analyzing 18th century Spanish literature. I could write research papers comparing the origins of regional dialects of Spain, and understand different accents from across South America. Fast forward to a month ago. Working as a technical trainer and delivering training on a complex enterprise software ... in Spanish. If you ever feel like you know a language, try explaining the technical jargon of your particular field in that language. I promise that you will quickly learn that there is a difference in what you studied, and what you actually need to say. I promise it will be humbling. I did, out of necessity, learn a couple of principles that helped me through my training and can be applied just as completely to training in any language; even your native language. Apply these principles and you’ll be a capo trainer too. Use their language This may seem obvious. “Of course I would conduct a Spanish training in Spanish,” you may say. What I mean though is that you want to use language that your trainees will understand. For example, much of the training I would normally do revolves around a software “Dashboard.” When looking up the Spanish word for Dashboard, Google will return Salpicadero or Tablero de instrumentos. Both of which returned only blank stares when I conducted the training. I knew that I wanted the trainees to use the Dashboard......
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Don't Step on Your Seedlings: Avoiding Common Employee Engagement Pitfalls

Don't Step on Your Seedlings: Avoiding Common Employee Engagement Pitfalls
Envision, for just a moment, your community associates as a beautiful spring garden. You’ve got the stronger veterans, the ones that planted themselves with your community long ago. They’ve gotten the necessary nourishment and now their career with your community is thriving. You’ve also got your seedlings, the new, eager associates that are just getting started. They’ve got a lot of growing to do, but they’re brimming with potential. Employee engagement is your garden’s fertilizer. It keeps weeds to a minimum, while incentivizing the growth of strong roots. The goal of course, in your workforce garden, is a productive and fruitful team! Unfortunately, like any garden, all the hard work of employee engagement can be squashed by some common managerial mistakes. Read on to make sure that these 5 common and pesky errors don’t kill your employee engagement before you can harvest it!  1) Changing and Erratic Expectations Managers need to provide their employees with consistent expectations. Nothing damages employee engagement quite like having the work environment shift under an associate’s feet! Your associates need to have clear communication regarding job expectations and the scope of their work. If changes need to be made, they should be well planned and communicated. This allows the employee to prioritize their work and to feel successful. If a manager needs to adjust an associate’s responsibilities, be clear about why and how the work should be done. Be sure to adjust other expectations as well. It is never okay to simply add to an individual’s workload. This is a recipe fo......
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Fifteen Words to Avoid in Business

Fifteen Words to Avoid in Business

I have had a deep love of languages since I was a young girl. There was even a time in my life I thought I would become a linguist, though I didn’t really know what I could do with such a degree. That dream eventually gave way to a major in education, and subsequently this career in multifamily.

I am fortunate to have many people in my life who corrected me every time I spoke or wrote incorrectly. That sounds fun, doesn’t it?

My late mother-in-law was an editor for Encyclopedia Britannica (I wonder if people who read blogs know what encyclopedias are), and I used to drive her crazy with my misuse of "I" and "me". I haven’t exactly mastered proper usage of personal pronouns, but consider it a tribute to her every time I get it right. Naomi was a staunch feminist and one of my biggest professional cheerleaders. She would push me to take risks and remind me of her extremely high opinion of my abilities. While I didn’t always welcome the delivery of her relentless grammar lessons, she taught me a lot.

Naomi Polonsky - Grammarian Extraordinaire

I hope you will enjoy this list of fifteen words to avoid if you are trying to sound intelligent and professional, compiled in Naomi's honor. I would love feedback on any words you believe should be added here. Are there any words you hear mis- or overused in business?

15-Words-to-Avoid.pdf

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The “Eyes” in Team: Tips for Increasing Collaboration Between the Leasing and Maintenance Teams

The saying goes that there is no “I” in team, and this is true. Putting me, myself, and I first is the very antithesis of teamwork. When collaboration goes awry at multifamily communities, however, the problem typically is NOT that employees are looking out for number one. Instead, a look at many communities will reveal associates working hard to create homes for residents. When inefficiency and friction occur, it is more frequently due to a split into two competing groups. If the leasing and maintenance teams operate as “us vs. them” rather than as parts of a cohesive whole, everyone suffers. If a leasing vs. maintenance dichotomy is dragging you down, adding “eyes” to the team can help promote a whole-community approach to collaboration. 1. See things from a different perspective. It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind. Imagine: a Leasing Consultant is in the midst of a hectic, stressful day when the phone rings. An irritated resident is on the other line. “My hot water doesn’t work!” she says.  The Leasing Consultant could respond, “I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ll have our Maintenance Supervisor go over right away.” This response momentarily appeases the resident and lets the Leasing Consultant get back to work. Purely from her perspective, all is well. After all, she’s not in maintenance. What else could she have done?  She could have started by considering the Maintenance Supervisor’s position. By not asking any follow-up questions, he has no idea what he might be walking into. Does the resident......
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The People Behind the Problems

The People Behind the Problems
If you have watched any news for the last couple of years, you’ve probably seen several stories about intense debates, protests (or riots...which are very different from protests), and general unrest. Politicians and regular citizens alike seem to be passing judgement on others before they have a complete picture of what may actually be happening. If you’ve seen these, then you have witnessed an unsettling trend in our society that accepts and even encourages snap judgments. In essence, we as a people are saying “just because someone has a different perspective than you, they’re absolutely wrong, and the world would probably be a better place without them.” (Heaven forbid.) Aristotle said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” In other words, you’re a wise person if you can open your mind enough to understand why someone has a different perspective than you--even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. I’m hoping that the generation with access to the most information in the history of the world (our generation) can prove how educated our minds are. Asking if someone else is an educated mind doesn’t seem to help much, though. As soon as we start pointing out someone else’s flaws, it makes it that much more difficult for them to accept our input. The real question we should be asking is, “am I an educated mind?” (If you recognized the dual meaning behind the title of this article, congratulations; I think that means you’re an educated mind!) ......
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Is Your Training Effective?

Is Your Training Effective?
Picture this: You are a busy property manager or leasing agent. You have residents coming in and out asking about rent and charges1. The internet is down in building 34 and Resident Randy can’t watch his daily cat videos on YouTube. As you are trying to calm Randy down your scheduled tour arrives and watches all this unfold. Does Prospect Polly really want to live here now since she works from home and the internet is essential for her job?  Your maintenance person just called in sick and unit 3104 need to be turned because your occupancy is tanking and you will miss out on your NOI bonus if 3104 isn’t occupied by the end of the month!  On top of all of this, the county health inspector is testing the water in the pool with a concerned look on his face. If this feels familiar to you, it means you have experienced a typical day working on a property (working in multifamily is a busy place to be!) Being a Property Manager or Leasing Agent can be a difficult job with many challenges. I commend you for all of your hard work and dedication to the community and company you represent!  Now on top of all of this you need to be trained or train your staff on how to better handle these scenarios. How do you fit it all in and make it effective? Below are two topics for discussion on the topic of training: 1. Training Gets in the Way Many large PMC......
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How Lynda.com and a Treadmill Made Me a More Effective Leader

How Lynda.com and a Treadmill Made Me a More Effective Leader
My company recently implemented a Leadership Development program. The first part of the program involved taking a set of required courses from Lynda.com. I’ve been in a management position for 10+ years. I figure at this point, I know what I’m doing. What am I possibly going to get out of a handful of courses? Figure out my strengths and weaknesses? Done. I am really good at all of the tactical parts of my job and want to focus more on strategic items like innovation. Use a To-Do List? I am the Queen of To-Do lists! Ask me any time, and I can show you my To-Do list with work items on one side and personal ones on the other. Meet with my employees regularly to review projects and talk about goals? Done. I have weekly meetings with my direct reports. Make time to exercise and play in order to reduce stress and be more creative? Wait... what? In her Lynda.com course “Leadership Fundamentals,” Britt Andreatta talks about exercise and play as key components in a strategy of sustainability. Engaging in exercise as well as play time helps us manage our emotions, reduce stress and become more resilient. I hate to exercise. I like the thought of it, but in practice, not so much. I even have a Pinterest board for it with a lot of tips on exercises I can do in a hotel room since I travel frequently. But do I actually make time for it? No. I don’t want to exercise first thing in the mo......
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Finding Our Way Out of the Murk

Finding Our Way Out of the Murk
Jumping into the middle of a project and then figuring out how to get through it seems to be a symptom of human nature. For some reason we don't want to stop to read the instructions before starting a project. We ignore notifications and emails and manuals in favor of wading into the murk and hoping for the best. This is true of residents who neglect to read the email informing them that garbage day has been changed one week because of a holiday. It's also true of any of us who have tried to put together a piece of furniture without reading the instructions, or any of us who've had problems with our computer software and the last place we look for answers is the accompanying manuals or training guides. There are good reasons for this behavior. For one thing, we are busy people. It usually seems so much easier and faster to simply send the email to junk mail, put the shelf together ourselves (because really how complicated could it be), or try to figure out the software as we go. It takes extra time to read through all of the notices and instructions, and it's hard to feel motivated to do so when you are worrying about the day to day tasks that pile up. Processing leases, showing units, answering phones, and so many other things have a greater sense of urgency than wading through instructional materials. The problem that we don't always foresee with this approach is that sometimes......
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