It's so easy to feel discouraged right now.
The National Sleep Foundation recently reported that 1/3 of Americansare losing sleep because of worries about the economy and personal finances, and that the lack of sleep has already led and will continue to lead to increasing health problems. Look at your team. Are they falling asleep in their chairs today? Eyes darkened and puffy? Concentration completely absent?
Yup. It hits home pretty hard. With a lack of sleep, tension and stress is at an all time high, and I'll lay dollars to doughnuts that it's the same way with in the microcosm of your office. Is your staff picking at the little things? Has your sarcasm-o-meter been ticking in to the red for months now? What about your team's evaporated sense of humor? Well, the good news is that it's not just your office. Everyone has a short fuse right now, and usually it runs out before 4pm when your residents come in, "just to see if we have a package!"
How do we make that fuse just an inch or two longer so that we can make it to 6 (and not reply out loud, "Do you have a sticky note on your freaking door!?") Well, you're going to need to remind your team that they are just that, A TEAM. They have to work together, have to get along, and they're going to have to develop a good working relationship with each other. When your team is misfiring, then your residents are the ones who take the brunt of it, which means your occupancy is going to suffer, which is going to stress your team out even more. It's really a NASTY cycle. Anytime you're dealing with a cycle of events, they will continue to happen until something steps in to MAKE it stop and change the way things are flowing. That's where a great manager can step in and show just how much strong leadership can change the course of a working environment. There are some great team building tools out there, but my favorite comes down to something as simple as praise and passing the "warm fuzzy."
For an explanation, I turn to the lovely Reece Witherspoon in the persona of Elle Woods:
You can probably skip the Pepto pink outfit when explaining this to your team, but you can also probably expect the same resistant reactions. We work for 8 to 10 hours a day with these people, 5 or 6 days out of the week. Truth be told, we spend more time with them than we do with our significant others or dogs, so the little idiosyncrasies that they have that are initially odd but kind of kooky and at the core of them all right, (You are so weird! The trashcan is like two feet from here! You could just throw away the fax reports instead of setting them to the side, you know...) when placed under extreme stress, can quickly turn in to the MOST ANNOYING THINGS THAT ANY HUMAN COULD EVER POSSIBLY DO, EVER! (What is your problem?! Throw the freaking fax report away! You are SO irresponsible and you suck and this is why you can't keep a boyfriend!) If you've waited to step in to the turbulent emotions that are running high on your property, because it's just easier to be in your office with the door closed sometimes (well all do it, there's no shame in it...) it is going to take sometime to repair the trust not only between your team members, but between your team and you.
One of the best things about property management is that everyone has something amazing that they bring to the table. Whether they're a great leasing consultant, a conflict management phenom, they can fix anything that's broken, or they're the only person in the office who can get the computer to come back after the blue screen of death pops up, no one comes in to our industry empty handed. There's a place for everyone and every skill set, and to function property, all employees need to feel like you appreciate what they bring to the table and that you recognize what they have IS valuable to you. The other half of the equation is that they have to recognize the great things that the other people they work with bring to your team. At the core of it, leadership is about contagious encouragement and motivation. Infect your team! You have to step up and start the process of turning things around and then you have to lead your team through completing the process.
Get them to buy in by setting the example first. Start with your newest people, who are likely to be less jaded and work up to your employees who are completely set in their ways and see any kind of team building as being "a waste of freaking time."
Function as a team and watch your retention numbers rise.
What team building exercises do you employ on your property?
It's so easy to feel discouraged right now.