Property Management Professionals – Sometimes You Need To Re-frame Those On Your Team

Sometimes you have to

What should go in this picture frame?

Everyone has “one of those” days.  It really doesn’t matter what your job is, inevitably you will have a bad day.  Unfortunately, sometimes without realizing it, your bad day becomes public and before you know it, it’s rubbed off on others.  How can you prevent someone else’s bad day from becoming yours?  Simple, before you react to their mood, either verbally or in writing, stop and think a second about what might be causing their sour demeanor.

It never seems to fail – every once in awhile I’ll get a call from a team member about their boss’ bad day.  I have an open door policy and all my team members know this, so if a Property Manager is having a bad day and that property’s leasing agent calls me to talk about an unfortunate encounter, no one ever gets mad…it’s how I run my business.  After all, we all need someone we can vent to from time to time.  The conversation almost always calms the situation down because we put everything in perspective and re-frame those people involved.

After all, we all need someone we can vent to from time to time.

We can’t expect everyone to be all sunshine and rainbows every day.  While that would be great and would help alleviate some of the stress at work, it’s just not reasonable.  At the same time though, bad behavior and constant bad moods can’t be tolerated either.  A middle ground has to be found so conflicts and confrontations can be resolved quickly, professionally, and fairly to all those involved (you can’t take sides).  Best way to do this is to get both sides to see / re-frame the other side and understand what things in the background may be contributing to their bad day.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself “how do you re-frame a person”?  It’s easy, you have to take the time to get to know your team members, pay attention to what is going on at their property or in your portfolio, and engage some self control before taking any action.   As John Heywood says, “Look before you leap, ” some very good and practical advice!

John Heywood says, “Look before you leap,” some very good and practical advice!

Positive Impacts in Property Management

Think before you act – turn the lights on in your mind and use what you’ve learned.


The best example I can give you is a situation I was involved in a few years ago.  I had two extremely talented maintenance staff members at one of my properties in Georgia, who for a year or so had gotten along just fine (never a bad day).   One got promoted to the Maintenance Supervisor’s position at a smaller property (just one maintenance staff person) and the other got promoted to the Maintenance Supervisor (2 additional maintenance staff people) position at that property.  The smaller property’s owner decided to sell his property three months later and the Maintenance Supervisor did not want to go with the new owner/management company, he’d rather stay with our team.  I didn’t have an open Supervisor position, but offered him the Maintenance Technician position back at his original property (with no salary cut), which he accepted.

I realize you are probably thinking “boy she’s long winded” (and some days you would be correct), but in order to re-frame the players you need to have the original picture painted first so you have all the background and details needed to build the new frame.

It finally happened, one had a bad day that rubbed off on the other, and the two of them got into a very heated encounter, which resulted in a phone call to me.  I called the other person and just “checked in” to see how things were going, and he unloaded all his frustrations as well.  Again…sometimes you just need someone to vent to without fear of getting in trouble.  I took some time to think about what each one had said, then scheduled a conference call to work through it by showing them how to re-frame the other so the bad day’s between them wouldn’t get so dire going forward.

What the Maintenance Supervisor didn’t take into consideration was the Maintenance Technician had been a Supervisor, but he took a step back in position responsibilities to stay with our company.  He knew his “stuff”, knew what needed to be done and how to do it with ease.  He also learned some new and more efficient ways of doing things while at the smaller property, which he put into practice back at the larger property.  He works best with clear and detailed instructions being given so he understands the whole “picture”.  The Maintenance Technician also had a very different background and was a bit more blunt and open about his thoughts on matters and handling maintenance tasks.  He also had a slightly stronger personality than the Supervisor.

What the Maintenance Technician didn’t take into consideration was the Maintenance Supervisor was still trying to find his niche in supervising as he had a bigger crew to oversee.  Learning how his staff worked, learned, and how to successfully provide leadership that would motivate them can take some time to uncover.  He also wanted to be the best Supervisor he could be, so he tended to rush through his instructions to his team.  He had been in the industry longer than the Tech, had a different way of handling confrontation and communicating with others (more subtle than blunt/direct), and a slightly quieter personality.

Finish the puzzle with communication and understanding

Teams come together when they learn how to communicate and understand how others “work”.


As a side note – in reality their differences actually complimented each other and made for a very strong successful team.

Teams come together when they learn how to communicate and understand how others “work”.

On our conference call we went through and talked about their bad day and the comments or actions made which resulted in negative feelings or harsh reactions.  I explained why the other reacted as they did, using the background information I gained during our individual meetings, so each of them could see why things got a bit out of hand.  Each of them needed to understand how their words and actions were being perceived by the other (all of which are drawn from background and experiences).  It should be noted both had things going on in their personal lives which were also impacting their moods, but those were not shared or discussed – it was just more background information for me to help them understand how to effectively resolve a bad day.

The Supervisor needed to understand although the Technician had been a supervisor, he had no information as to what the Supervisor expected because clear and detailed instructions hadn’t been given.  The Technician needed to understand the Supervisor was still trying to find his niche in leading his maintenance team and was having a hard time understanding the Technician’s blunt communication style.

Once both sides saw how the other side perceived situations and conversations…they learned to re-frame the other and going forward were able to successfully resolve, on their own, any “bad days” that may have occurred.  Actually, if I think about it, there weren’t any more uncomfortable situations or bad day’s between them and their team operated and communicated like a well oiled machine!

You also need to remember, things roll down hill.  So the Property Manager could be getting hit from all sides with projects that have short completion dates from the Regional Manager, who got it from the Vice President, etc.  Last minute inspections which have appeared out of nowhere and you have no time to get ready (we’ll talk about why that should never be a problem…and if it is, I’ll tell you how to fix it next time), traffic that morning was horrible, the water heater at home blew up and flooded the house, babysitter cancelled, debit card got hacked, and the list goes on and on of things that can impact and affect someone’s mood.

So today, I’m challenging each property management professional from South Carolina to California, from staff at the property management company to the staff at the site level, re-frame those around you who are having a bad day before you react.  Take them out of the frame you have them in, think about what you know is (or could be) going on in their “world”, and give them a new frame.  To help you with this there is a frame below you can print and put by your phone or keyboard to remind you re-frame those who are having a bad day so it doesn’t become a bad day for you.


Who belongs here today?

Re-frame those who are having a bad day so it doesn’t become a bad day for you!

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