Even Tough Guys Like Trophies

My mom has a habit of trying to surprise me with good news by leaving voicemails that sound anything but.

“Lauren, call me when you get this” is a personal favorite. She left that voicemail a few years ago, her tone foreboding. Now, if I were a TV daughter, I would have been Full House’s D.J. Tanner—damn near perfect (minus the time she accidentally fell asleep on her boyfriend’s shoulder)—yet I started frantically wracking my brain as soon as I heard this message. 

What could I possibly have done wrong? Did I blackout and rob a liquor store? Stay out all night with a non-existent boyfriend? Accidentally delete all of the Boston Legal shows on her DVR?

I reluctantly called her back, prepared with an excuse for any potential wrongs I had committed.

“Hey Mom…you called?”

“You won the Polish Heritage Scholarship!” Mom chirped, her voice full of glee.

“WHY do you do this?” I demanded. “You keep scaring me!"

Sometimes it’s easy to assume the worst. We all know this feeling both personally and professionally. Your boss calls you into his or her office—no explanation—and you start Google mapping the quickest route to the unemployment office. Nine times out of 10, it’s good news.

(The other 10 percent of the time, you’re actually being fired—which is unfortunate.)

This trepidation is often the case among maintenance technicians, many of whom only expect to see their supervisors when they’ve done something wrong. According to Stephanie Graves, Senior Vice President for Asset Plus Companies and presenter of Nov. 20th’s Webinar Wednesday, “How Can We Get the Most Out of Our Maintenance Teams and Keep Them Motivated?” this puts maintenance team members on the defensive whenever they see a manager.

In order to change this mindset, Graves says it’s important for “inside” office staff and maintenance technicians to become one cohesive unit and interact more frequently.

Graves says one of the best ways to bridge the gap is by doing a job swap twice year. Having your office team swap or partner with a maintenance technician for the day is a great way to build the team and show respect for one another’s positions. You’ll also realize how absolutely useless you are with a plunger.

It’s also important to empower your maintenance technicians. Business cards are a cheap and effective way to make these men and women—the backbone of your company—feel like they are an important part of the overall team. If they have parents like mine, their fathers will also hand said business cards out at social events.

Another way to get the most out of your maintenance technicians—and show your appreciation for their hard work—is through some sort of recognition program. Graves suggests handing out “standing ovation” cards all over each property that give residents and employees alike the opportunity to provide positive maintenance-related feedback. The community that gets the most standing ovations each year gets to keep a traveling trophy until the next competition. 

The prize sounds very similar to the Cousin Cup—a Beanie Baby fish stapled to a piece of cardboard that my cousins and I fight for each holiday in an intense bout of household games. I’ve yet to secure the Cousin Cup—an anomaly that haunts me daily—so I guarantee maintenance technicians will feel equally motivated to capture something similar.

Or maybe I have a “problem.”

Learn more about Webinar Wednesdays (hosted by NAAEI, Apartment All Stars and Multifamily Insiders), and register for December 4th’s “Reputation Management: Converting One’s Negativity Into Your Opportunity” today.

Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager of Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).