It is worth giving a brief summary of what currently happens in most property management businesses. Typically, learning and development workshops are seen as annoyances to be avoided, rather than opportunities to be embraced. It is symptomatic of a higher level failure in the way we think about careers that a property manager will avoid training, just because the time away from his or her desk will mean a build-up of work to deal with later. We live in a self-perpetuating cycle where training is shunned because everyone is just too busy.
It is no doubt true that a day out of the office is going to mean work will accumulate. But it is also true that unless we improve our capabilities, the situation will never improve.
Some might say this is a stalemate that cannot be solved. I reject that. It’s possible to look to other professions to see how this so-called stalemate is solved.
Whether a person is a doctor, lawyer, nurse or accountant, all of them will find time in their year to maintain and improve their capabilities. It’s ridiculous to suppose a doctor would ever say “I’m too busy to do training, but this seemed to work when I was at medical school anyway”. How is saying “this is how I’ve always done things” in property management any different?
Ultimately, everyone is busy. In a profession, a shortage of time can no longer be used as an excuse for not improving capabilities. The sooner our industry comes to terms with this basic fact the better.
Every profession evolves.
Even those who are experienced in their industry need to be regularly trained and up-skilled to just maintain their current position, let alone advance. Anyone who is not improving and advancing is effectively going backwards in their career. That is what separates our profession from a job.
As a cautionary note, not all training sessions are the same in terms of value. Each property manager should have a clear understanding of his or her role and the career competencies needed to succeed. The property manager should also know where his or her own career competency gaps lie and then have a plan to work on them. This is called a career plan and we explore this concept throughout this book.
Learning opportunities need to be thought of as an investment in professional career. The more competencies a person has mastered, the more value they bring to their role and the greater the opportunities for advancement.
Another defining characteristic of a profession is that those in it must have the interests of the clients in the forefront of their minds at all times. If we are honest with each other, this does not always happen in every agency. Much thought is put into how the life of a property manager can be made easier, certainly much more than the effort put into how outcomes can be improved for our clients. These concepts are discussed in detail in our book Checks and balances.
Those that embrace the profession will change the balance between these two objectives.
Property managers should certainly aim to lighten the load for themselves wherever possible, but they must also spend more time finding ways to create more value for their clients. Sometimes this will involve working harder and longer, or going the extra mile to deliver a great outcome.
This concept is called ‘client facing innovation’. It is set out in more detail in Connecting the Dots, Checks & Balances and through our learning and development program.
To drive this industry ahead, we must embrace these principles of professionalism.
To succeed, a partnership is required between the principal and the team members. No single person can make it happen alone and unless the whole team is onboard, then change is unlikely.