Are You Prepared to Fire Your Favorite Apartment Manager


Do you truly understand the value of a positive customer experience for your residents and employees? If so, then the answer to “Are you prepared to fire your “favorite” property manager?”should be a resounding yes.

Despite evidence that satisfied employees are good for the bottom line of the company, somewhere a property manager at this very moment is making a resident’s (or several residents!) life miserable.

Inconsistency, negativity and unpredictability can diminish your sense of job motivation and company loyalty. But you know this if you’ve worked for an individual with poor leadership skills. One of my early jobs in the property management industry was short-lived for this reason. I still recall the day I walked relieved that I would not have to deal with that abuse anymore.

That boss was a real jerk, but she was also a “favorite” of the person she reported to, which meant employees and residents were forced to deal with her.

Let’s face it, companies spend thousands of dollars finding, hiring and training new employees. When an employee leaves, that investment becomes wasted. While employees leave for any number of reasons, one of them is that underperforming employees are allowed to stay and make the lives of others miserable.

So why do companies permit managers like this to stick around? Here are a few reasons.

  • The owner loves them
  • They are related to someone at the corporate office
  • The manager has ‘dirt’ on someone further up the food chain
  • They have a lengthy tenure with the company

Shaking your head yet? Perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m glad that doesn’t happen where I work”? You might be shocked to know you’re most likely mistaken. It’s usually that person you would least suspect — the popular, successful, award-winning manager who’s kept under the radar thanks to their status as a ‘favorite’.

What can you do?

Remove the Blinders

Growing up around horses I spent many years at the race track with my family. Racehorses wear blinders to keep them focused and to avoid distractions. Leaders too are responsible for focusing on the race BUT they should be removing distractions—not avoiding them.

How do you take off those blinders? One way is to take time to evaluate all of your managers — truly, effectively evaluate them.

Delivering a great customer experience means listening to and understanding the customers you serve — internal and external. Take off the blinders and ask the hard questions. And remember that asking is one thing, and listening and taking action are entirely another. For effective customer experience improvement, you have to do all three.

Employee evaluations are great tools. A 360 evaluation is one where everyone who works with, by, and for the employee being evaluated provides their feedback on that person’s performance, which will give you a better overall picture.

Train Them

If you do not provide formal training on how to manage and lead others, you should be. Even the best property managers can turn out to be terrible leaders because they lack leadership skills. Management skills and leadership skills are two entirely different things!

When we promote these unprepared managers into leadership roles without providing adequate development opportunities, many of them fail. Communication, feedback, and relationship building skills are essential for success. Leadership is about value. Great leaders have employees who willingly follow them because of the value that leader brings to them. Developing leadership skills takes time and practice.

“In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people… they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.” -Ken Blanchard

Lesson:  You do not get people to perform better by yelling at them or using a bigger whip.

Do What’s Right—Not What’s Easy

What would we do with a high-performing manager who had a 120% employee turnover in a single year? Promote them. Yes, we make decisions that really don’t make much sense. But those decisions are easy on paper, and we generally do what’s easy.

And if you aren’t being pressured to make a change or evaluate more deeply, is easy to just look the other way and pretend that the manager is not part of the problem.

So…A customer walks in and sees a miserable looking, beaten-down employee on the verge of tears. Then the regional manager walks in and asks this same person “How’s your day going?” and they respond “fine”. They don’t look fine or sound fine, but do you ask why they don’t seem fine? It may not be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

It’s difficult to take a hard look at someone who is your favorite. But those in a leadership role are the ones who have the power to make changes. Leaving the wrong property manager in place has long-term effects on the company. A manager can be a bad manager even if their numbers look great.

What will you say when asked, “Are you prepared to fire your favorite manager? You have to be willing and prepared to make the difficult decisions required to improve the customer experience.

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