We Professional Property Managers do create the very vibe of each community that we have the pleasure of managing. It is crucial for us, therefore, to foster a respect driven attitude of community building amongst the residents, staff and Board Directors in order to be successful with human resources; and, avoid the spiralling force that creates continuous staff changes at many condominium properties. Rotating staff from site to site in a dizzying attempt to immediately satisfy client demands is not effective and we must resist the temptation.

Residents need to know that they actually do need to know the names of the cleaners and security guards that work in their condo. In addition, competent staff will not slack off and become lazy if you encourage each one to be their personal best through your own demonstrative actions. For many successful, mature and well-established condominium neighbourhoods this is oft a natural environment.  New, younger condominium neighbourhoods are leaping into being rapidly and often lack the understanding needed to secure, maintain and reap the rewards of motivated long term staff.

Ego is an intriguing and challenging element within us all. As 2012 rolls in and washes out much like ocean waves, it is insightful to consider the positive and negative as the energy particles of our beings ebb and flow. The rapid rush to embrace living in well-designed suites stacked upon and beside each other like building blocks makes perfect sense. Physically it all makes sense. The human ego has, however, a major role to play in keeping the blocks from tumbling or tilting askew due to continuous staff changes that can often be avoided. We need community building blocks rather than corporation building blocks.

Appreciation for one’s efforts is sure to satisfy the ego. It costs no more to be appreciative and give praise where praise is due. Appreciation can set into motion an upward swirl with minimal effort. The old song about R-E-S-P-E-C-T still has a place in our world today. Here is a story that I hope provides insight into what really matters (be it 2012 or beyond) and what actually works based on my veteran level experience.

Upon assuming the role of managing an existing staff of eighteen in one Condominium, I happened upon a circumstance in day one that led to improved staff performance within days. I must admit that I had not had the time during my first day with some water leaks ongoing to even consider the site staff and how well they performed, or did not perform. I had met with the Board prior to being selected as the new Property Manager and was aware of a few items they wanted resolved. Many Property Managers had passed in and out in quick succession and I recall wondering of the challenge I was undertaking. Some of the Board ‘to be resolved items’ included site staff, cleaners and security guards that residents were apparently complaining of.

I turned around the corner in a service hall on that first day to come upon a wet and freshly mopped floor. The caution sign was in place to warn of the wet surface and Barbara (as her name tag stated) was just finishing her assigned task. She froze, as did I. I could have just tiptoed through the wet area and let her tidy up after me but that response opposes my management style. I signalled ‘thumbs up’ and smiled at her for the sign being in place. I introduced myself, commented that the clean floor looked perfect, spoke her name and I took another nearby hall to reach my destination. This all transpired quickly and led to changes I had not considered. As I later learned, Barbara had been scrubbing away for months at the same property and not once had anyone complimented her work or spoken her name. In addition, no Property Managers during her Condominium cleaning career of ten years had acknowledged her or her work as valuable. Few residents knew her name. The management office staff and ‘The Board’ was some powerful group that she feared as site staff were shuffled in and out continuously.

The rapid transformation was remarkable. As it turns out, cleaners talk to cleaners and cleaners talk to security guards and they share much in common. Sure we all likely know this but do we make use of this knowledge? Within days, the cleaners really performed well as did the previously less than ideal security guards.  The site staff left their jobs in what they perceived as a negative, unrewarding, doomed work setting to blossom under appreciation and positive encouragement in the very same workplace. The Board was ecstatic and quickly agreed to increase the remuneration to both the cleaners and the security guards in the next fiscal year to reflect market value. The residents praised the Board for finally getting the building looking its best after years of rotating staff changes. Local Realtors commented on the mysterious increasing market value of the units one year later despite no major common element upgrades. I was suspected of having a magical wand up my shirt sleeve. My Administrator and Superintendent, who had both been job hunting at the time, quickly became close team players and now both have their R.C.M. courses completed. The site staff of eighteen literally rocked on through many floods, a fire, a power outage and much more with relative ease.

Sure, we worked hard. Yes, we sometimes felt we worked too hard. Admittedly we each gave much to the community that ultimately embraced our presence and even invited us to their social functions. The concept of team is understood in the work place. The application of the team concept needs to be fostered within the condominium work place. The Board, property management staff, cleaners, guards, other site staff and residents have a war to win.  The opponent is indifference and disrespect. Victory lies ahead through appreciation and mutual respect. Arm yourself with a free smile, positive praise and your acknowledgement of everyone’s need for appreciation. Nurture and appreciate good staff. It is plain, simple, economical, environmentally friendly and effective. Home is where the heart is; and, this heart centred management style in Condominium communities is surely worth consideration and implementation. Try it. You may like it!

PS: Thank you, Barbara, for the invaluable life lesson you shared!