It is such a pleasure to meet new property managers. They are full of promise; they are positive, enthusiastic and eager to please. Embarking on a new career is exciting and should be celebrated. However, unless they have a support system that encourages their growth, and helps guide them through the rocky shoals of managing people and property, they will become frustrated, disillusioned, burned-out and then, sadly; drop-out.
I try to encourage managers, new and experienced to not take the job so personally. It takes time to grow the necessary ego-callous required to communicate and manage the expectations of demanding board members and owners. Depending upon the community, property managers will be faced with a myriad of challenges related to management of the physical plant, equipment, machine(s) and component failure, landscaping and aesthetics, legal matters, vendor relations, rent collection and delinquencies, budget preparation, staffing issues and the health safety and welfare of owners, guests and tenants. Whew!
Many managers are required to be available for emergencies 24/7. The trick to this level of availability is to determine and gain consensus on what constitutes an emergency. My general rule is: blood, flood or fire. If there is a sign of blood (either due to a fall, cut, scrape, or other calamity), standing or a downpour of water, smoke (either by smell or sight); it is an emergency! This is an acceptable reason to call the manager. However, allowing oneself to be contacted for reasons other than a true emergency, coupled with the magnitude of the other areas of responsibility, will overly task the manager and the weight of the position will begin to negatively impact the manager. They will begin to work longer hours, take less time to exercise, enjoy family time and hobbies, and forego vacations because “there is too much work to do”. Guess what? No one can maintain this level of stress for very long, and the manager will begin to burn-out, and eventually drop out.
By employing some of the following suggestions, new and experienced managers may be able to reinvigorate their profession, and plan for a long and successful career in property management:
Manage Employer Expectations
Review the contract and/or management company’s expectations before accepting the offer of employment. Are you expected to work two weekends per month? Are you expected to work several evenings per month? Will you be required to be available 24/7 for emergencies? Is there a clear chain of command in the event you are not able to be contacted due to illness, vacation or personal emergency? Understand the scope of the job before getting into it. Once you accept the job, you will be expected to do it.
The Art of No
Do you have the disease to please? By saying yes too often, you will over burden yourself and may begin to resent your job. You must weigh the request with your priorities, commitments and community goals. If possible, ask if you can think about the request(s) before committing to a new job, task, project or opportunity. Burn-out is a common problem in the industry. Pace yourself; know your limitations and don’t be afraid to decline a request.
Property managers spend many hours on property and at the desk. Balance the job with a commitment to exercise and fitness. You will be sick less often, increase your mental health and increase your endurance. Creating a balanced life will help you avoid burn-out. You are not your job! The benefits of regular exercise will afford endurance, balance and a sense of well-being. On the other hand, neglecting to incorporate regular physical exercise will contribute to poor posture, weight gain, poor self-esteem and reduced self-confidence.
Prioritize Family Time
Is your family taking second or third place on your list of priorities? Is scheduling the landscape meeting or meeting with the board president your most important priority? Wrong order of importance! Schedule a date with your spouse, or plan a family outing for this coming weekend. Re-focus on what is really important! When the job is over, they’ll still be there.
Remember these three things: You are needed. You make a real difference in the lives of people. If you are in a crisis; this too shall pass.
Endeavor to persevere…
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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