There are countless books and in existence promising the secret to success, but to me, it all comes down to a simple philosophy about people.
As someone who spends a lot of time relationship building, I see time and time again what happens when you forget that people are people. People have free will, and they can choose to buy-in or they can opt-out. If they opt-out, you lose.
Let me explain.I've worked my entire career in the apartment industry from the ground floor up, and I can easily recall situations in which I was exposed to poor leadership, careless coaching and ambiguous directives. These situations were frustrating and demoralizing, and ultimately led me to make decisions to find better environments. Because, for me to succeed, I had to feel that what I did mattered to someone, somewhere.
I had an awakening as my career progressed. Because I'd known what I'd needed in those early years, I was determined to provide that for others who have had not yet found that voice. All those years ago, I learned that if I was going to make a difference, I needed to behave differently than those who led me. So, I made the decision that as I climbed the ladder and my responsibilities grew, so would my humanitarian side. I knew that I needed to think before I spoke, and make sure what I said came across the right way.
In order to be successful, our staff needs to trust us enough to follow us. I wanted people to follow and trust me, but that process doesn't happen just because you hold a certain position or carry certain clout.
When I do site visits I drive the community, as I expect we all do before going in. I make observations, but I don't go inside and immediately unload that list on people. Instead, I begin the days shaking hands and meeting with team members first. I always make a point to shake every hand, every time, because I believe in the power of building trust and relationships.
Eventually, we'll end up walking the c ommunity and it's during this time that we can "discover" problem areas together. It is far more palatable for people and doesn't send the message that that I see the flaws before I see your face.
In addition, I build trust by knowing and recognizing the efforts regularly that the teams put in. If you remind people of the difference they make, the difference you make will be worth its weight in gold. So ... lead from the heart. Care about the people who are out there daily for you. Remember each night they go back to their homes and tell their families about their day. They make plans for how they can make a difference for you. People are people. Like it or love it. People are the valued add in property management.
David Bales is a Regional Vice President with Pinnacle based in Dallas Texas. His experience in property management spans over 25 years in markets across the country. Currently David directs operations for Pinnacle in the Florida market.