Have you ever noticed each year companies come up with different terms for their employees? For instance, Starbucks refers to their employees as Partners and other companies refer to their employees as Associates. Then there are the standard terms of employee and staff.
Personally, I prefer the word partner. The reason this is my preference is everyone who works for my company is not only a critical member of the team, but their ideas, experience, background, and education – every little thing that makes them unique – is woven together with what the other partners in the company bring to the team. And that my friends, creates an amazing tapestry showcasing our combined passion for serving others in the multifamily property management industry.
I did an interview a few weeks ago and was asked what makes my company different. First, I have to admit I don’t care about my company (hang in there and I’ll explain). What makes our company different are the founding principles our partners laid out when we started the company and the fact we stand committed to never wavering from those principles. The partners in our company are what matter most, and as we all see it, we are responsible to ensure each and every partner is supported, treated with the utmost respect, mentored, engaged, and given the tools and training they need to succeed in their current role. Actually, I think an even bigger part of our responsibility is to ensure they receive what they need to succeed in their career, whether it be with our company or another company. We as a property management industry need to focus on training the next generation of people who will take this very dynamic industry to the next level and beyond.
Second, if our company leaders do the right thing when it comes to our partners, then the company will be OK. In other words, it’s not the company that matters most, it’s the partners and teams that work at the company which make it successful and great! The success of each individual partner contributes to the success of the company as a whole. If your partners are engaged, enriched, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt you are behind them, supporting them in everything they do (and attempt to do), the rest just falls into place and works.
The result in managing your teams with a focus on their development has a positive impact, both up and down the ladder, on the other partners in the company. However, not paying attention to your most valuable asset, your partners, can play havoc on the success of your company.
One of the biggest, in my opinion, and the most critical area that if ignored can have a negative impact of the success of your company, is partner turnover. The larger the turnover, the less stable your teams become. High turnover at the site level can have a negative impact on the operational and financial stability of the property. High turnover at the corporate level leads to decreased morale throughout the whole company and operational responsibilities tend to get backed up, or not even done at all. Not to mention the increased costs of constantly recruiting new partners to fill open positions. The time, energy and costs involved in this area of human resource management is overwhelming to your HR department and the company’s bottom line.
Even if you put your partners first, train them, support them, and help them grow in their chosen career path, there will be times they leave your company. To me, that’s OK! I haven’t had a lot of turnover on my teams, but when someone does come to me and gives a notice I ask two questions. First, and foremost, I want to know why they are leaving. If it’s company related and they are not happy, I need to know so I can look into how we could change things so going forward this isn’t an issue. If it’s because they have gotten a promotion with another company, I only have one question. I simply ask them, “is this what’s best for you right now?” If the answer is yes, then I support their decision 100%.
There are a lot of great mentors out there to help leaders develop their company culture and leadership programs. One of my favorite is Simon Sinek. Mr. Sinek has written several best sellers and should be a must on the reading list for people in leadership roles. Some others include Warren Bennis, Jim Collins, John P. Kotter, and the list goes on. I try to give my partners at least 2 books a year which I have read and think would enhance their professional development.
You know – I just had a thought. I think I’ll start a company book club. We’ll come together, as a team, and discuss the books I’ve given them to read. We can see which, if any, concepts discussed in the books would improve our company culture and benefit our partners. One better, have the partners suggest books to read, which we will give to all the partners, that have helped them grow both personally and professionally.
The one thing about property management you can always count on is the dynamics. In order to keep up, it requires the leadership’s constant dedication to empowering and engaging their partners and teams.
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