A little while ago, a colleague of mine (let’s call her Kylie*) asked me what I thought was holding her back. Why was she not progressing in her career the way others did?
Over the years, I’ve also had the same conversation with different team members who are wondering why they haven’t rocketed up the ranks. It got me thinking - why do some property managers never really step up or manage to progress?
The reality for Kylie was, she just wasn’t an ‘Ideal Team Player’.
The concept of the Ideal Team Player is explored in a book I came across recently written by Patrick Lencioni, a well known American author on business and team management.
In his book, The Ideal Team Player, Patrick describes the Ideal Team Player as someone who is three things: humble, hungry and smart.
Those who are humble are open to feedback and opportunities to learn and improve. They don’t assume they have all the answers and are always seeking to grow and learn from mentors and other sources.
People who are hungry want to be the best and want to work for the best. They continue to strive for greater heights, whether that be growing the rent roll, perfecting the customer experience or running the leading business in the area.
When Patrick talks about being smart, he’s not referring to IQ but rather being ‘people smart’. Smart people have a high level of emotional intelligence and are great communicators. They build rapport quickly and develop strong relationships in both the team and with clients.
__The fundamental point is: the Ideal Team Player must possess all three qualities. __
Having only one or two leads to an imbalance and results in an individual who doesn’t function well in the team for various reasons. Patrick uses the following examples in the book:
When it comes to property management, the concept of the Ideal Team Player couldn’t be more true. If you’re not excelling in all three traits, you’re unlikely to be a key collaborator or driver of progress and are, therefore, less likely to be considered for the next opportunity. Nobody’s going to ask you to lead the team if you’re a prickly person who lacks the ability to relate to people.
How do the characteristics of the Ideal Team Player apply to property management?
Being Smart means being consultative in your approach.
The fact is, nobody likes being told what to do. From the age of around 12 months, we start acting out (don’t I know it, with a 14 month old!)
However, when we take a more consultative approach (guiding rather than telling) we’re more likely to gain respect from our colleagues, landlords and tenants; creating positive relationships with people who then become our ambassadors. A great testimonial from a landlord direct to the Principal is a clear symbol of your value to the company which leads to more opportunities and a higher salary. A team member singing your praises about how much you add to the culture of the business will have the same effect.
It’s about being ‘on the same side’ of the person you’re talking to, whilst still being able to deliver news that is not necessarily what they want to hear.
An example of this is needing a landlord to do maintenance, knowing they won’t want to do it. An average property manager might take the a blunt, legislative approach, such as ‘You need to do this maintenance as the legislation says that all maintenance must be completed in a reasonable timeframe.’ but a great property manager knows their clients and what to say to push the right buttons.
A ‘Smart’ property manager understands that a more effective approach would be something like this:
The fact is, we’re consultants and not dictators. The great quote, ‘people will forget what you say, but never how you made them feel’ should guide your communication style. Do you make them feel as if you’ve genuinely tried to help them? That you’re thinking of their needs?
Being Hungry means continually upskilling and pushing the status quo
I thought I knew quite a bit before coming to LPMA. I had been to every PM conference on the eastern seaboard and had completed dozens of training workshops. I subscribe to Mind Tools which offers an enormous range of articles and tools on management, training and leadership frameworks and I’d seen many real estate businesses through my previous role in a Corporate Franchise.
What I had failed to do, though, was to keep reading.
Especially, reading about things that were happening outside of our industry but that might be useful to us. I am very fortunate to be in the role I am now. Not only do I get to work with great people but I am constantly learning. Whether it’s discussing a new book we’re all pouring over or reading a Harvard Business case study. Constant education is the key to continued progression and innovation.
Challenging the status quo is a key component of being Hungry. I strongly believe that no matter what I’m doing there is always a way to do things better, faster, smarter. Just when you think you’ve got the process perfected is the precise moment you should question it.
Go and observe other businesses in action. Learn about the processes and system they’ve integrated into their agencies - even if you think yours is perfect. Learn about key frameworks that have worked in other industries, how can these concepts be implemented in property management? Seek to understand the vision that your Principal has and find ways to work towards that vision.
Being Hungry in property management is about growing profits for the agency and the landlord. Learn the fundamentals of business and property investment so you instinctively know what that looks like and how to obtain it.
Staying humble means being open to feedback Being humble is a challenging quality to maintain, especially if you’ve been working in the industry for a long time - it can be hard to accept that maybe you don’t know everything and that there are better ways to do things.
However, acknowledging that there is always opportunity to learn from others and room to improve your process is critical to being an ‘ideal team player’ and someone who continues to grow.
There’s one sure fire way to know if you’re humble or not. Ask yourself this question. Are people giving me feedback? If they aren’t, they may feel like you don’t handle it well.
If you’re not getting feedback, find someone you trust and ask for it. Give them context around why you’re looking for feedback (to learn and improve in areas you may not know you’re lacking) and try not to shoot the messenger. If you trust them, know they have good intentions and it’s not a personal attack, they’re trying to help you be the best you can be.
Kylie*, who sparked this blog lacked the ‘smart’ quality, her people skills weren’t that great. I asked her to read the Ideal Team Player and do the test included in the book to find out where she sat. She hadn’t thought that being a team player was necessary before as she was a portfolio manager and saw herself as separate from the team. She hadn’t realised that she was lacking in this area and how it was impacting her progress. The good news is that she’s extremely humble and was able to take on the feedback and action it without it affecting our relationship.