A few months ago, I was up against a learning experience. I had a personnel problem that I had to address and I didn't know what to say, so I reached out to my support network of property management professionals, and the most incredible thing happened.
It was one of those rare moments where no one was on Twitter or in front of their Inbox and no one could help me. In a world where I had connections to the other 6.5 billion people on this planet, I was on my own with this issue. First, I slightly freaked out, but then I realized that with the ticking clock, I had to know what to do and so I was forced to finally listen to myself. I did the right thing, said the right thing in the end. Nothing quite builds professional confidence like that experience. After the issue had been dealt with, my mentors and co-workers all felt bad that they couldn't help me at the time, but I told them not to worry about out it and things had worked out great. What I should have done was thank everyone of them for their hectic schedules and forcing me to use my own brain. I'd forgotten to trust myself and my own judgment.
One of the most common mistakes that I see managers making is that they swoop down like a guardian angel on their struggler and squat their ideas on the heads of the uncertain employee, rather than letting organic ideas and opinions form. It's hard to watch someone fighting with an issue when you have an easy and time tested solution that you can just give them. However, it's not always your solution that they need. An idea, thought or resolution from their own noggin will always mean more to them because it's theirs. Plus, you never know what they might come up with. Sure, your solution will work, but maybe theirs will work just as well, at a lower cost, and with better resident retention rates. Employees are crafty that way. You never know what they've got brewing behind a pair of panicked eyes.
Am I telling you that it's bad to let them ask you questions? Heck no! One of the primary functions as a leader is to give direction, to hone choices to their best options. But before you give that struggling employee the answer to their question, take a moment to ask some of yourself:
- Given the time constraints on this issue, can my employee figure out the proper course of action or right answer?
- Do I believe that there is only one correct answer/solution to this problem?
- Is there anyway that what my employee will come up with will violate either policies or fair housing laws and implement it before I get a chance to review and make suggestions?
- If my employee makes the wrong choice, is it going to be a career-ender or self-esteem killer, or will it end up being a valuable learning experience?
- Do I have faith in the training I've given them or my company's training department?
It's a lot to consider, but the minute you start making them learn and think for themselves, you start creating more self sufficient employees, thus setting yourself up for an easier managed workplace in the future. Employees who feel like their bosses trust them and value their opinions perform better on their jobs. They take more initiative with tasks, are willing to take risks creatively, and are more willing to think outside the box. This leads to them being able to find new ways to work with the tools and resources already at their disposal and they are much happier in the work place overall, resulting in less employee turnover and a greater increase to your bottom line budget dollars since you aren't having to pay for staffing and hiring.
Trust + respect and genuine, specific praise/acknowledgment = a happier workplace for everyone.
In your Property Management work history, what was the first problem you ever were forced to solve on your own, and how did it make you feel?