This article was posted on Friday, Sep 01, 2017

Have you ever had your work force quit on you over a period of four weeks?  That was your employees firing you!  Whenever you lose a team key player, who you loved, to another company, you need to step back and wonder why.  Let’s face it: in today’s economy, it costs a small fortune to hire, train, and adapt an employee into a team.  If you are seeing this cycle in your business, it’s time to get off the hamster wheel.

There are several reasons why employees fire their employers:  Deadline disasters, micromanaging, undue stress, disrespect, not addressing the employees’ wants for happiness, and my favorite – lack of training.  In today’s property management world, the lack of training is astounding. Now, some of you are thinking, “This is not my company!”  Well, let’s look and see if any of these qualities show up in your place of business.

Deadline Disasters

A solid manager and their staff should be able to complete all the tasks given to them to run their property.  So, what does your calendar look like?  What, you don’t have one?  As an employer, you spend your time at the leasing office and tell your staff when tasks are due.  Here’s how that feels to the employee:

  •  You don’t trust them to have the competency to complete tasks
  •  Those that show up all the time tend to take away time from the team rather than add to it
  •  Organization is not important

The number one deadline monster: the before work-time meeting.  When you bring in a team early, they leave early or someone goes into overtime.  Every staffer loves overtime, not so much managers.  So how is that now juggled?  Is the salaried manager taking on all the extra hours, and then not being able to manage because they are being pulled toward jobs that distract from their duties?

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Let’s look at the scenario I just laid out:  Your staff comes in at 6:30 a.m. for a 7:00 a.m. walk-through.  The staff is then done at 3:30 p.m., unless longer lunches are taken, which causes a gap in performance.  Then, the manager and service manager are pulled from their job for the time the walk-through takes place – we’ll say approximately four hours. They are then pulled away again to cover the longer lunches, or must take longer lunches themselves to stay later. This is at least five hours of productive time that has been lost – along with any deadline that was established previously or during the walk-through, where an answer is needed that day by 5:00 p.m.  The staff leaves at 3:30 p.m.; at 4:00 p.m. there is a service emergency that the supervisor must then attend to so they are unable to complete their deadline task.  The manager is then pulled to the leasing office instead of working on their project; they are taking service request calls, leasing calls, updating the leasing automation follow-up program, and having residents just come in to chat.  Now think of the cost of a manager per hour. Is that the best use of your dollars?

Now, say you come out once a week; that is lost productivity of five hours per staff member to cover all the other jobs – five employees and 25 hours lost.  That’s a lot of lost revenue. Does anyone else see dollars being flushed down the toilet here?  How do you overcome it?

Here are several ways to avoid this issue:

  • A deadline calendar, if issued, would be the staff’s roadmap to achieving all that you need on time and avoiding the “due or die” mode.  This calendar should be received by the entire staff no later than the 25th of the prior month.  You may ask – “Can I just send out the accounting calendar?  Do I need the information sooner than accounting?  Do I have to review?  With payroll due on the 15th, is that the deadline or is perhaps the 10th to look at bonuses?”  Don’t use the adage: “I told my employees!  They should just know.”  Thank you for setting up your team to fail.  As a manager, there are at least 20 days in a month that have a deadline attached to them.  When a calendar is not provided, you are letting your team know that the goal is not important, that as an employer, you will always make sure you are fire-chasing, and that you are connecting to all the reasons why you feel the need to micromanage.
  • Minimizing senseless interruptions to your staff day.  If an owner is coming out for a visit, and it’s not once a week, that can be less of an interruption. But a weekly change-up of schedule and you’re hurting the work load.  Or the owner just visiting to visit – sure, that’s nice, but have a purpose.  Don’t waste the manager’s or staff’s time with crazy-making. What is crazy-making?  The insane thought process that takes everyone away from what is important and then yelling at them when the important tasks aren’t finished on time.
  • Micromanaging:  The cause of undue stress and disrespect.  Now, you may feel your staff is not capable of what you need done.  That is either a training issue or a communications issue.  Most micromanagers aren’t even aware they are doing it. Or they do and well, there’s a special place in hell for them.  Here are the signs of a micromanaged team: the staff has used up all their sick time, several team members have been out on stress leave, team members have a ton of banked up vacation because you can’t let them take a day off.  If they don’t have vacation banked, it’s because they used it during stress leave.  The number one tell of a micromanager:  Your teams are constantly being hired elsewhere because they quit on you.  Not the business, you.  Not their team members: YOU!  A team that is well cared for will work for less, work harder, and take on the accountability of property.  But a team that is constantly made to feel less than, disrespected, or not worthy only tears apart the team.  Team happiness is the number one revenue growth factor that is consistently overlooked.  Bringing a team up is making them feel wanted, smart, and appreciated for what they do.  When a leader brings up a team, they raise up the whole company.  When a boss keeps a team under strict control to raise only themselves up, it shows on the revenue side as a negative.
  • Training:  Good training creates an atmosphere of desire, happiness, and guidance.  It’s sets the expectations, shows you why tasks are important to the company, and how to achieve them.  It lets employees take pride in their company and in their own work.  Do you have online training and programs for your team members?  Has your trainer worked on site? Is your trainer just keeping tabs on what online courses your team members are taking but not doing onsite training?  This might be where your training may not provide enough to the employees.  The training is the same for everyone, yet everyone’s work site is different.  On-site, there is no one-on-one coaching to support the new team member as they are shoved into the pool to sink or swim.  Some coachings make you think that the manager can do that, but how much is already stacked on that manager to train up a new leasing agent?

The nuances of everyday sales to maximize profit cannot be addressed, or given the special attention certain areas each property needs.  Does the leasing agent even know the best ways to describe the property? Some companies even have corporate trainers who have never worked onsite … ever!  How can you explain and inspire someone when you have never walked in their shoes?  These trainers consistently work on the text book knowledge. Knowledge that really isn’t as pertinent to the task as they might believe. They often believe there is only one way: the way of the secret shop. “Here are 60 steps you must take to get a good shop score.”

Yes, everyone wants their property to perform at the top of a shop, but there are times employees are being shopped and they are told to read the shop and that’s how you lease. Do you want to know why your score is low? Do you know why your occupancy is low or the property has not increased rents?  No one is trained on how to get the pertinent information to drive up the score.  There is a right and a wrong way, and when a new leasing person does it the wrong way and the prospect on the other end is offended.  I guarantee the leasing agent will never ask that question again.   What is the better way?  Find training for your teams.  Let them go to classes, not just half-way listen to a dated video that doesn’t address any of their needs or motivates them.  Some companies have call-in training, and roll call is taken at the beginning and the end of each training.  How many times have you been told keep your phone on mute.  That is because we all know that the person being trained is multi-tasking instead of paying attention to the call.  How interactive is the call?  Has the person training worked onsite and motivate the team?
The best way is one-on-one training or an in-person class setting for all new hires, and for each time an employee is promoted to the next level. This is where culture is built, where employees get excited to join the team, and where pride for the company is ingrained. When an employee is empowered, as an employer, you are serving your employees. Can you imagine your whole team living up the potential you want to see your business grow to?  Excitement brews!  These employers are the ones that don’t get fired!

Today, take the time to look at your recent employees that fired you.  What could you have done to make a difference in that decision? Henry Ford said it best: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping people together is a progress.  Working together is success.”


Janet Sprissler has been property managing units with close to 20 years of experience.  Janet has launched her own company Janet Sprissler LLC to help property management companies, owners and teams get to the next level and get control over their property.  Offerings include online courses, 1 on 1 coaching, webinars, team training and speaking engagements.  Janet is serving her purpose by helping others serve their communities.  You can find out more at Janet or subscribe to her podcast: Property Management Mayhem with Janet Sprissler available on ITunes.