Out to Put a Dent in the Multifamily Universe

Multifamily Leadership: Know Your People Know Your Business


In the world of leadership it just makes sense that you would be out there glad handing, cheer-leading and relentlessly challenging those who serve your business. I have long held the belief that organizations exist to serve the people that serve it. Thus, it is the leaders calling to serve. And, baked into that calling is the need to know your people.

We have all been there, “Hey Fred, now what is that porters name again?,” “And, what is the assistant manager’s name?” I’ve done it myself more than once. Not only is that embarrassing, it just plain wrong. No a fact I am proud of for sure. Can we all agree that people want to feel like and more importantly know that they are part of something bigger than themselves. They want purpose, they want mission, they want values that are in alignment with their own. They want to be dignified. And, they want you to know their name and be genuinely interested in them.

Multifamily Management by Wondering Around

MBWA was made famous by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman when they researched and wrote about it in the book, In Search of Excellence. The practice was a cornerstone of Hewlett Packard’s business model. [A practice they seem to have forgotten; as of late at least.] The thought was that the most unadulterated pulse of your business comes from the front lines. The forward facing people that serve the people that participate with your goods and services. They are the ones that give you the best sense of what is and what should be as it relates to running a profitable business.

How do we do that?

First, we show up. Go ahead, make an appointment with your front line people today. Make two or three and stick to them.

Next, we ask probing questions. Get that list together ahead of time. But make sure you leave the environment open for fluid conversation.

And then, we listen! There is a reason you have two ear and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk and you are guaranteed to learn a lot about your people and your business.

That’s it. Simple as it sounds it is likely the most overlooked and underutilized piece of our business. We get so caught up in the deal, in the reporting, in the fire drill that we put the site visit off. We assume the people will understand. They get that we are in growth mode. They get that we are busy. They get it. It’s all good. Truth be know you rob them of their dignity, their pride and their wherewithal.

Your making several meaningful front-line appointments for next week contributor,


About Mike Brewer

Out to put a dent in the multifamily universe. Love compelling conversation...

  • Lisa Z

    Wow!!  That’s powerful stuff M!  I understand if I don’t see you this week, as it looks like you have a lot of appointments to book…   🙂 

    • Ha! LZ – you rock. I know I have been in contrast to this post when it comes to visiting your site. It’s something I am embracing as an area in need of improvement in my leadership journey. 

      Thanks, as always, for taking the time to comment! Have a brilliant day! 


  • I think over-promising and under-delivering is something that leaders do, not on purpose, but because there is conflict between what they want/should do and what they ‘have’ to do based on other demands.  But just like at our communities, we certainly want to make realistic promises and over-deliver when possible.  I think a lot of respect is built when someone is just truthful/realistic in their promises and is able to keep them.  Anything extra is icing!  I much prefer to be happy they showed up when I knew ahead of time they potentially couldn’t, than to be upset because they promised they were coming and didn’t show up. 

    • MP 
      Thank you! I have to admit this was a tough subject for me to pen on as I run in contrast to the very points in the post. So many times; I make commitments only to have to break them because of this that or the other. All important but nevertheless hard to juggle. 
      Just this week when Jonathan came to town, I broke a commitment because something else entered my window of responsibility. 

      I like what you suggest in the way of being realistic. Ironically speaking, realism is the subject of the next post in this series. I penned it last night, I will be curious to hear your thoughts when it comes out tomorrow morning. 

      Hope your day rocks and thank you for taking the time to add to the conversation.