Property Management and the Lencioni Model

For community managers who have a difficult time implementing onsite team-building exercises, consider coaching your team using a model illustrated by Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” The model is shaped like a pyramid, and explores several areas we must heed to as leaders of our organizations, beginning with a foundation built upon trust.

Lencioni reasons that a dysfunctional team is “built on an unstable foundation—lack of trust—and is ultimately exposed by its inattention to results.”

Consider the five components of this model and how they apply to your own team:

1. Absence of “Trust”   
2. Fear of “Conflict”
3. Lack of “Commitment”
4. Avoidance of “Accountability”
5. Inattention to “Results”

The model is an ideal tool for a team-building exercise, especially for apartment industry professionals because of its components and what can be learned by using it. The model allowed our team to understand that all teams need to have trust, as well as some conflict—because it’s healthy for growth (as in marriage) and most teams learn when there’s conflict.  Also, commitment, accountability and results are great variables to use when assessing the team’s overall achievements. All of these components matter when developing a team strategy.

For example, when preparing vacant apartments, the goal is to have the perfect market-ready unit. Did you complete the basics of the make ready? We use a “Maintenance Free Checklist,” which helps our team double-check the techniques used to get the unit where it needs to be before completion. This one simple checklist forces us to be more accountable for the end result, which is unit presentation.

Moreover, each of the steps in the turn-key process requires the manager to believe he or she has a team that will continuously deliver results at every unit turn. If managers do not trust that the team to follow through, it’s a recipe for disaster. Do you believe you have a competent team representing your community to prepare the ideal market-ready apartment? Competitors never take this lightly because they understand the importance of presentation and detail when giving a community tour. Presentation can make or break the decision for the market renter to live at your community.

Also, if there is no trust, the whole idea of a team must be thrown out the door. If there is no conflict, growth might be hindered.  Consequently, if onsite managers, leasing agents, maintenance technicians and porters are not committed to the task, nothing will ever get done and no one will take ownership of their work. If no one takes ownership, then no one can be held accountable. As a result, we will not pay attention to the end-goal—to make sure that the apartment is truly rent-ready for the resident, with nothing else to be done but hand over the keys. Besides, in this industry, if you are not in it to win it, why are you here?

Finally, imagine the next time your owner visits to take a look at a market-ready unit. Don’t be the dysfunctional team—be the one that builds its foundation on trust and hold yourselves to a higher standard that will yield impeccable results for the overall community. You’ll realize the model truly works if you do a team-building exercise. Remember, the investors’ and owners’ reputations are attached to your work. Make your efforts worthwhile—it matters more than you realize.

Arletha Grandison is the property/community manager for Willow Ridge Apartment Homes in Avondale Estates, Ga. She has an Executive M.B.A. and B.A. from Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga., and is the author of "Service Above Self: Besides, It's What The Consumer Wants."