A long time friend called me last week to catch up and wish me a Happy New Year. He is now a District Manager (DM) for a medium sized Property Management company in the north east, and loves what he does!
While catching up, he asked for some advice about a direct report Property Manager (PM) that is not loyal to his company. She is apparently a great PM otherwise, except only seems loyal to the Board of Directors (BOD). He really wants to save her, but none of his attempts to date have made a difference. She is making a killer mistake!
Sound familiar? Of course, it does. It occasionally happens with Property Management companies, Security Guard companies and many businesses that house on site employees. How does it happen? It’s pretty simple. The PM – on site every day – develops relationships. Because of the daily contact is she closer to the BOD than her boss? Possibly. That alone does not create such unethical behavior, however, what she does with that relationship power is another story.
A possible scenario:
The PM faces the Board member who may (or may not) always be reasonable. One day the PM blames her company, not because her company did anything wrong but rather because she did not know what else to say when her position was threatened, “I pay your salary you know!” the BOD member says. (Urg! I AM in a billable position she thinks.) And there it starts! She did not intend to hurt the company but she did not know how to handle the difficult position (or was tired of it all) and took the easy way out.
The BOD member is now focused on the seemingly ‘nasty company’ who he believes will not help their employee or their customer. Your reputation, the reputation of your company and very possibly your contract are in jeopardy. The PM knows she was not loyal to her company, so stays faithful to the BOD. She has now given up on her company because she feels she can’t recover.
Generally, I would first ask questions around the District Manager’s leadership type. You have heard this before; people leave their boss, not their company. How did this happen? I KNOW this District Manager. I would put a couple of paychecks that he is doing a lot if not all of the right things but here are some thoughts I shared;
- Create a culture where your employees are comfortable opening up to you regarding client complaints or other problems. Even if you might think they are silly. If they don’t know how to handle a difficult situation and don’t approach you for help – everyone loses. Work through the solution and train train train your team. Not just a discussion, real training! Including scenarios. Tools to help them learn how to overcome obstacles.
- Make sure your team has access to you always, and a weekly meeting (or call) to discuss open issues (which will reduce numerous calls). Don’t run away from difficult scenarios, but rather, be a part of the solution. Remember there are no perfect people. Help them!
- If your company needs to rise to the challenge and resolve the problem, push whatever buttons you need to make that happen. I am NOT suggesting that you give into unreasonable requests, only that you do the right thing, and timely. The longer your company avoids the problem, the worse the situation becomes. Yes, I know everyone is busy – that is why you sometimes need to push.
- Keep close to the client. Make sure they have trust in YOU. Create a relationship that stands up against the difficult times.
- Be very transparent with your on-site managers about the ‘why.’ Your team can’t defend you if they don’t understand. My last boss Len often reminded us that to important people we tell why. For example, what might appear to be a “simple” request could result in a legal and costly outcome for the customer. Help your team understand. Len also reminded us that if our employees don’t get communication from us, they will go somewhere else to get it, & when they do, it’s almost always negative.
- And if you forget the rest, remember this. Hire right, and put the right people in the proper seats. They must must must know how to diffuse, and resolve issues, not throw gasoline on the flames. That-ain’t-all-that-easy. Provide them with the training and tools they need to succeed! And, if you know there is someone that is the wrong fit, make a change. I know it sounds risky, but It will get worse in time, not better.
“One team on the same train moving in the same direction, is a powerful force” – Irma Parone
And thoughts for the Property Manager:
- Remember who your employer is, always. Don’t let pressure create unethical actions. You will ruin your reputation in the industry. Yes, your client might love you but remember boards change, and your company has far more opportunities than one account. That does NOT mean to disregard the interest of the customer. It means to work WITH your company to provide outrageous service. Always do right! If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong.
- If you don’t understand why your company is doing something, ask.
- If you honestly feel your boss or company is not supporting you or your client, go to your boss first. Never speak poorly of your boss unless it is to someone that can help you, which is UP the INTERNAL ladder. And never go over your bosses head until such time that you tried to work with him/her without result. And then, don’t make it personal.
Keep focused, and professional.
- No company is perfect so don’t expect perfection. If the company is, in fact, terrible protect your own reputation and find a better company. Where ever you are, be a high-value problem solver, not THE problem. Help the company see the bigger picture if they are missing it, and be sure also to listen. You just might learn something you didn’t know. Still problems and want to stay? Then carefully go up the chain within your company. Never, ever throw your company under the bus with a customer.
- When your customers are unreasonable, and you don’t know how to handle them, ask for help.
- If you don’t feel equipped to handle the position (which includes dealing with difficult issues), you might be happier in another role. Get help to determine what role would be best for your strengths.
You are the CEO of your career, face your weaknesses and push past them through whatever training, coaching or other reputable means necessary. Shooting arrows at your company will hurt you in the end.
Finally, think about your purpose and intent. Our Parone Group philosophy is simple. Where any level of an organization considers the company, the customer, and the employees when making decisions, they have a greater chance of finding winning solutions. Be a part of the solution. It is not always easy, at times can be risky, but results do count and great results, feel great!
Parone Group is a support system for executives and their teams. We partner with you to determine very precisely what you want and need vs. what you have.
Next, we identify and walk you through the processes, tools, and resources required to pull it all together and work with you as much or little as you need or request.
From creating a high-value culture to connecting you to resources for temporary virtual assistants, we are your one stop shop. We save valuable time and provide the solutions and support that help maximize performance & profitability.
Reach out to us. http://ParoneGroup.com