Management or Leadership?

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For more than a year now people across the globe have been focused on their health or at a minimum thinking about not getting sick. The COVID-19 pandemic made us all hyper-aware of every sniffle, sneeze, or cough which made allergy season tricky for a lot of folks. However, we expect that life will soon settle into a style of normal that feels a little more familiar even as we incorporate some of the pandemic lessons into that newer normal.

But, once the coronavirus isn’t at the top of mind and we begin to spend some form of structured time alongside team members, I think our attention may turn to those other wellness threats in our working lives.

Bob Chapman at the Aspen Ideas Festival brings his perspective on Truly Human Leadership in business. He says, “Organizations in this country are the direct cause of the healthcare crisis. The biggest cause of chronic illness in this country is stress, and the biggest cause of stress is work.”

Bob cites research from the Mayo Clinic showing that a person’s immediate supervisor at work has more impact on health than the same individual’s primary care physician. Monday mornings have a 20% increase in heart attacks as people go back to work.

That’s an eye opener. You can feel the joy get sucked right out of the people who work in places where they don’t feel valued and the toll that takes on their wellbeing.

The issue at its core is the difference between management and leadership. Management is focused on the coordination and administration of tasks to achieve a targeted goal. Did you see anything human-centric in that definition? When managers view their employees as chess pieces on a board, humanity is removed from the equation and with it, the motivation and heart of those very HUMAN resources.

Leadership on the other hand is an art form whereby people are motivated to act towards achieving a common goal. Leaders recognize the humanity of their team members, support their goals, and celebrate their successes even when their careers lead them away from us. Leaders are focused on the people.

Whatever thing or service your company produces, your core product is the people who work with you.

What Does Love Have to Do With It? – The Power of Love at Work.

Love is fundamental. But – What does LOVE mean when it comes to the workplace?

We know (and the Harvard Business Review confirms) that the more love is felt by team members, the more engaged they are and the better they perform. But concerns about the potential of harassment and discrimination can leave many leaders at a loss – like a spooked turtle with hands and head tucked in – and far away from potentially powerful and sincere relationships with their teams. What a missed opportunity!

Love at work never translates into inappropriate advances, comments, or anything else that falls into the sexual harassment or discrimination realm. Those types of behavior are universally offensive and violate the very humanity of team members.

Love in the context of work is intentional and involves showing compassion, expressing care, and conveying kindness. Genuine human-to-human connection, empathy, and authentic conversation are powerful tools in the workplace. Leaders who put in the work and seek to understand their employees reap big rewards in the double bottom line of human connectivity and business results.

Marc Brackett, PhD notes that we should seek to become an emotion scientist, not an emotion judge.  Emotion scientists are curious and inquisitive, seeking to understand. They ask questions and listen well. Emotion judges on the other hand are critical and reactionary. They make decisions based on limited information. Instead of asking, they may go as far as to tell you how YOU are feeling!

Emotions matter. They affect decision making, physical and mental health, performance and creativity, and the quality of our relationships. Emotions can be messy, but I encourage you to push past any reluctance you may have and wade into a company culture that is powered by love.

Five quick tips to get started:

  1. Make time to get to know your team members as people – put one on one and small group time on your calendar. It takes time to build trust.
  2. Make transparency your cultural calling card. Never underestimate people’s ability to handle the truth.
  3. Allow team members to have agency in their work
  4. Create mentoring opportunities and allow that team members can mentor up, too.
  5. Practice candor and personal vulnerability. Your humanity makes it easier for team members to trust you with theirs.

The Space Between

When I was a younger human, I found much in my small world that made me angry, and there were times when I allowed that anger to dictate my words or actions. I’m not proud of those moments, and truthfully, I’ve worked hard to reform my thoughts and deeds to make me a servant leader worth my salt. Even so, every day provides me the opportunity to hold myself accountable to the man and leader that I aim to become.

Many years ago, Viktor Frankl, a sage man whose life and writings I admire, penned a statement that in his memoir Man’s Search For Meaning that resonates with me still today. “Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

Viktor survived the Holocaust, internment in four concentration camps, including Auschwitz, the loss of his parents, brother, and pregnant wife, while enduring monstrous personal abuse at the hands of the Nazis. If a man who walked in those impossible shoes says there is power in the space between, then that is a concept I can embrace.  

On the downside of any adversity – choice remains. Whatever stimulus acts upon you such that your feelings become the driver of your response, the space between is invaluable. Customers who seem irrationally upset about an issue – the choice of how to listen and how to respond endures. Family members, friends, or co-workers who demonstrate heightened emotions – the space between their words and your response is available to you as valuable fertile soil to create an elevated, reasoned, and more loving reply.

I encourage you to seize the space between and allow it to manifest as growth in you. 

“Carpe. Carpe Diem! Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary!” (Hat tip to the late great Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society and Tom Schulman who wrote its magnificent screenplay)

Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion

I join Janet Baildon and Paul Marks in the latest episode of MultifamilyMatters to discuss RADCO Residential’s DEI story. While this is a story specific to the company I work for, it is a more far-reaching and timely topic.

I encourage you to take forty minutes out of your day and tune in. Retire to a quiet spot or put your earbuds in and go for a walk while you listen. More importantly – act on the information.

No matter where you sit in the organization, it’s time to shine. It’s time to stand up and make your voice heard. It’s not a time to dip your toe in the water but rather a time to jump in – full body.

One word of advice from the late great Steven Covey – Seek first to understand and then to be understood. I think much of the misunderstanding and confusion created by media and politicians is done under the guise of keeping us divided.

We don’t have to accept that narrative; we can make our own. We can sit down at the table, pour a nice cup of coffee, and break bread together. We can then ask questions and tell stories to each other. Be and see from the heart. That is the way we cease the momentum that is built on the down side of this issue.

Something Big Is Coming

My team at RADCO Residential and I have been working on a project for several months and, if you were paying close attention, you may have noticed an easter egg or two in our social media feeds. I don’t often use this space to tout my business events, but this is a big one and I am too excited about it to not share it with everyone.

RADCO Residential is now offering our property management platform in service of third-party owners and investors. RADCO Residential was initially formed to fill the need faced by The RADCO Companies for an in-house management platform with the agility to rapidly execute on evolving business strategies for their owned portfolio.

RADCO was approached in the past about providing third-party services but we opted to wait. It’s never an easy thing to turn down business opportunities but it was the right thing to do at the time. We were committed to developing strong cultural and business practices while building out our infrastructure and systems first.

Why now? RADCO Residential has the cultural courage and structural fortitude to deliver operational success for third-party owners and investors. Five years of managing RADCO’s dynamic portfolio and helped us formalize the practice of full transparency between property management and asset management which fuels collaborative solutions.

Please reach out if you want to know more or go to our Client Services page for more info.

Business is Personal

In The Godfather (1972), Michael Corleone infamously says, “It’s nothing personal, Sonny – It’s strictly business” when referring to the shooting of a colleague’s father. Far be it from me to tangle with a mob family, but given a chance, I’d like to say, “You’re (dead) wrong.”

When team members come to work, either to the physical business center or through virtual/digital systems, they bring their whole selves with them. There is no imaginary coat hook by the door where real-life problems are parked until the end of the business day, only to be picked up and loaded on again before going home.

Businesses serve these whole humans. This truth has been magnified over the last year as employees’ personal and professional lives merged (and often cracked) under the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic. The disruption of work-life balance, loss of workplace camaraderie, and lack of shared in-person experiences left many workers feeling disconnected from the business. Working parents experienced the additional burdens of juggling remote learning and feelings of constant guilt about not meeting the needs of either family or job.

As pandemic-related restrictions begin to wane and our lives return to some new form of normalcy, businesses need to be thoughtful about the path forward. Organizations must actively remove barriers to healthy, creative, mindful work, including physical, psychological, and cultural obstacles.

It is critically essential to engage with employees and invite candid conversation intentionally. Leaders must develop an ear for what is not being said as much as what is, and make it safe for employees to share pain points, then develop strategies to address these needs. Companies should prioritize mental health and consider schedules that adapt to meet the evolving needs of their employees.

Companies that invest in the actual overall wellbeing of their workforce have better outcomes and higher retention. Team members feel the difference when the business views them wholistically. The true value is achieved when the ‘H + R’ of Human Resources provides powerful resources in service of the whole humans that make up an organization’s workforce.

Ultimately, it’s always about the people

In multifamily property operations, fewer people have more physically demanding jobs than our maintenance team members. Working on air conditioners in scorching heat and dealing with plumbing malfunctions are among the urgent and disagreeable tasks that service teams deal with regularly. Top it off with the high emotions of affected residents for good measure.

If the job at hand is objectively unpleasant, why do we find time and again maintenance team members who are enthusiastic brand ambassadors?

Human-centric culture

A company with a genuinely human-centric strategy seeks to serve the people who serve the business such that all team members can have meaningful and rewarding lives. Human-centricity within a business incorporates characteristics like empathy, fairness, reciprocity, kindness, and compassion as core components of its culture. Human-centricity at work sets the stage upon which employees can identify areas of interest, apply and expand their talents, and experience a sense of fulfillment for their contributions.

A company’s culture is its DNA. Culture establishes a common language that determines team member experience within an organization. Entire countries, religions, and generations are grounded in shared beliefs, values, and practices. I would go so far as to say that a company’s culture is the most critical factor in determining its long-term success.

Businesses have a responsibility to design authentic choices that empower people to feel active, heard, and understood; invite them to participate, and involve them in decision-making. Genuine human-centric businesses avoid empty, short-term promises and encourage honest, emotional, long-term relationships. 

Businesses that act in enthusiastic alignment with published core values earn the loyalty of their workforce. What people love about their jobs is not necessarily the work they do, it’s the way they feel while they do it. That feeling of heartfelt connectedness to purpose is the direct result of authentic organizational human-centric culture.

Renter’s Resume

Several years ago, I lived/worked in San Francisco, where I was a General Manager overseeing two properties in Foster City for Equity Residential.

And, during no oddly particular day, a prospect entered our leasing office and presented her “Renter’s Resume” and asked to see an apartment. 

Up to that point in time, I had never seen a Renter’s Resume. I didn’t know such a thing existed. But I found it to highly useful. 

Just today, I came across an Australian company called Snug that created what seems like the digital version of a renter’s resume, and it got me thinking. 

In essence, the resume is a certified pre-application that saves the owner/operator a ton of time on the front end of the leasing/qualifying process. 

Is anyone aware of this kind of service in America? 

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Multifamily Friends

ACTION POINT: Next time you hear colleagues pounding the table for something that is yesterday’s news, find a way to tell them they need to wake up and smell the coffee. [Read Full Text Here]

The above Action Point comes from my all-time favorite Daily Reading Business Book, The Daily Drucker.

Optimistic

I’m optimistic that people in the Multifamily Space will take full heed to Drucker’s’s Message as we move into the total Digital Transformation of our business.

In the next eighteen months plus/minus, our systems, processes, disciplines, and routines will happen behind the scenes outside of the purview of our Team Members and our Customers. Many companies are already well down the path to Digital Transformation. The Digital Coffee Pot is brewing.

Many years ago, Bill Gates/Microsoft was on a mission to see a computer on every desk in the world. That vision gave way to Steve Jobs and others, putting multiple devices in people’s hands and pockets.

The next wave of tech will allow us, the Multifamily Community, the opportunity to remove every desk PC from every office across the country. There is no need for this tool as much of what our site team members do today can happen behind the scenes with the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence.

Seamless Business

The word Seamless or Frictionless will be the theme. Amazon’s click to buy is the best example of what I mean. Click a button, and your product shows up. There is an untold number of things that happen once you make that swipe, but you see none of it.

That day is here for the Multifamily Space. That day is now.

Wake up And Smell the Coffee

Old School mindsets have no room in the now of work.

If your mindset is to surround yourself with people that think your way (the old way), the new way to work will eject you – it’s that harsh.

I hope people see it, I genuinely do. It’s the one thing that keeps me up at night.

Your always ApartmentHacking friend,

M