If you are easily offended, need regular “atta’s (atta boy, atta girl)”, are hypersensitive to criticism, or hold grudges; property management is NOT for you! Seasoned property managers have developed an ego callous. A what? An e-g-o c-a-l-l-o-u-s. Obviously, this is not an actual, physical callous; however, it serves the same purpose. After many years of practice, we have learned to keep our emotions in check, recognize we are not necessarily the problem, and always keep in mind that we are “the help”. Tough? Yes, we are. Out of necessity, we keep an imaginary wall between the people we are hired to serve and our soft, squishy selves we reserve for people we truly care for and trust.
Listen: It’s you and your staff …. and THEM (owners and guest). You will naturally find affinity with owners who are polite, engaging, interesting, witty and kind. We all gravitate toward people we like, and we tend to resist the ones we do not like. This is ill-advised. Your residents should not be able to detect the difference. I am suggesting that you keep your professional fire wall up while you are performing your duties at the property. Should you leave the property and elect to make friends with someone you used to work for, go for it! Do it after you leave. You will make this mistake one time (hopefully). You will learn the lesson, or you may wish to find another line of work.
Check it out: One morning an owner (a little on the cranky side) approaches me as I am opening the door to the office upon arriving for the day. “Good morning, Ms. Harris” I offer cheerily. “I want to talk to you about your staff, she offered. “Ok, how can I help?” I asked. They spend all day sitting around reading the paper. We pay them to work!” replied Ms. Harris. “I find that hard to believe, but I will certainly speak to the staff”, I responded (confused). Later that morning, I told the staff what I had discussed with Ms. Harris earlier that morning. One of my maintenance staff admitted that he picked up a section of newspaper that someone had left near the elevator and as he was throwing it away, he noticed something interesting and read it for less than a minute! The timing was unfortunate. He was terribly offended, and his disappointment was magnified by the fact that he had a very friendly rapport with the owner (homemade cookies, compliments and frequent conversations). Yes, his feelings were hurt, and he was truly offended. I’ve been there too.
I repeatedly remind our staff that it is US and THEM. What he will do in future is take the newspaper back to his breakroom and read it in private. Shake off yesterday’s stuff, be polite, do your job and stay frosty (be cool). This is where YOU work, and this is where THEY live.
Endeavor to persevere.
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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