Effective communication is essential to every profitable business, and property management is no exception. If you seek to make your property management business one of the best in your part of the country, it’s essential to make excellent communication part of your game. It’s crucial with your staff, tenants, contractors, investment property clients, and everyone else with whom you’ll have dealings.
If you commit some of the common communication mistakes below, however, your business could become less profitable and more challenging to manage.
Failing to Assume Responsibility
Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, announced in 2013 that the business would reduce its use of Patch websites. He fired the creative director for AOL’s Patch on a conference call – live – before 1,000 employees.
Clearly, this was a grotesque error in judgment that made the entire company look bad in front of so many of its workers. AOL issued an apology for this extreme action.
But instead of assuming responsibility for his mistake, Armstrong offered excuses. A Grossman Group analysis of the apology showed several errors in wording that torpedoed the statement’s effectiveness.
There are several lessons for property managers here. First, never discipline a subordinate in front of anyone else, let alone 1,000 witnesses who are colleagues!
Second, as a property manager, you’ll inevitably make mistakes, and that’s okay. But it’s essential to own your mistakes and communicate that to your employees.
Offering a sincere and effective apology to your colleagues for a mistake is critical because it earns their respect. It also builds trust in the organization and provides an example of taking responsibility that your staff will appreciate.
Failing to Follow Up
As the property manager, you’ll have to send out requests to staff to handle various tasks nearly every day. For some managers, that would be the end of the matter; they may assume each employee received the communication and completed the task.
But to be a top-notch property manager, you must follow up to ensure every task gets followed through to completion. For example, there are few places where HVAC maintenance is more critical than in Texas in the summertime: High temperatures in most of the state can top 95 degrees for an entire month.
Suppose you manage a property in Houston and fail to make certain the air conditioning maintenance is performed on a timely basis. Your property could suffer a major breakdown at the worst possible time.
So make sure you communicate with staff about daily maintenance and other requests. Then confirm they received the requests and completed them. Never check any task off as “done” until you’ve verified it.
Don’t Make Assumptions
As a property manager, you have a high level of knowledge of business management, tenant screening, building maintenance, vendors, and much more. However, when you communicate with your staff, it’s an error to assume they’re aware of all the knowledge you possess.
In the book Cracking The Leadership Code, author Alain Hunkins stresses that the manager or executive is the center of his or her own information, and it’s all evident in that person’s mind. But other employees lack the same level of knowledge and background.
This is what often leads to misunderstandings with the top of the organization. When you communicate to staff to screen tenants for a vacancy, it’s vital to make sure they follow the guidelines you’ve established for this process, including income, credit score, proof of employment, and the other critical items.
This involves training your staff on these guidelines and following up to ensure they have internalized them. If you assume they know what you know, but you don’t train and follow up, profit-draining mistakes can happen.
Not Listening To Staff
Property managers tend to talk and give orders more than listen in many situations. But eloquence isn’t as crucial to effective leadership as listening is.
When you know how to listen to your employees, you can uncover your team’s creativity and problem-solving abilities. Not everything has to fall on you.
For example, if you have a nagging vacancy in Apartment 102 that you have not been able to fill for three months, that’s a profit drain. Let’s say the investor wants you to try something innovative to get that vacancy filled.
But you cannot relax your tenant screening guidelines without the risk of bringing in a bad tenant. This is a situation where you could ask your staff what they think you should do to fill the unit.
A common idea is to offer a bonus to an employee who gets the vacancy filled with a quality tenant. But instead of providing that idea yourself, see whether a member of your staff comes up with it. Maybe they’ll throw out something you never thought of!
Everyone makes communication mistakes on the job, but how we respond and improve makes all the difference. With the above ideas in mind, you should be able to enhance your communication skills as a property manager and become even better at your work.