Number One Way to Motivate Apartment Talent

“On days when workers have the sense they’re making headway in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak.”

Apartment Talent Progress

In Lisa Trosien’s recent post: Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Property Management Executive , she speaks to ten complaints from site teams across the country. It strikes me that every single one of these have been relevant to our industry for as long as I can remember. And, every single one of them impedes progress. Which, according to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, is the number one motivator of employees.

Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer penned: What Really Motivates Workers in the Jan-Feb 2010 issue. In the article they sight the following five factors as being significant drivers of motivation;

1. Recognition

2. Incentives

3. Interpersonal support

4. Support for making progress

5. Clear goals

All important but Amabile and Kramer contend not the number one motivator. After conducting an intense multi-year study tracking a multitude of levers – progress – it seems is the number one motivator.

“On days when workers have the sense they’re making headway in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak.”

Seems to me progress, not unlike every item in Lisa’s list, is completely in the control of executives across the country. The article suggests the following ideas for helping progress;

1. Avoid changing goals autocratically

2. Be decisive

3. Provide support in the way of rolling up your own sleeves

4. Celebrate progress – no matter the stretch

I have always believed that a happy employee is a productive employee and that the property management organization exists to serve the people that serve it. And if those two mantras are employed as a premise for all decision making the rest will happen by default.

For those who would huff and puff about about the soft stuff, there is the alternative;

“On days when they feel they are spinning their wheels or encountering roadblocks to meaningful accomplishment, their moods and motivation are lowest.”

I trust the week to come will be one of smashing progress

Related post: Can Apartment Marketers Afford to Disconnect a 24/7 generation?

Related post: Make Sure You’re Not De-Motivating Your Team

Related post: Eight Things Your Employees Want From You

(Photo credit: Dan Pink’s: A Whole New Mind)

Apartment Marketing – Negative Capability

The famed Edward de Bono calls it Rock Logic. You might recognize it as linear, pragmatic, methodical or even orderly thinking.

1133804_sign_success_and_failureA good deal of insanely great change is influenced from the bottom up.. Why is that? It’s precisely for the reason that a front-liner’s negative capability meter is on par with Shawn White’s eXtreme fearless factor. John Keats brought the theory of negative capability to light back in the early 1800’s – negative capability defined as one’s ability to embrace uncertainty. For many property management firms across the country, embracing social media in all it’s implications will rest on those with the ability to exercise or greatly influence negative capability within their respective organizations.

Fighting the good fight

What will these champions of change face as they venture into corner offices across the country? The famed Edward de Bono calls it Rock Logic. You might recognize it as linear, pragmatic, methodical or even orderly thinking. Where negative capability thinkers thrive on ambiguity their counterparts want the back up, the proof in the pudding and they want it in solid Rock Logic spreadsheet fashion. Your best bet is to make the case for Good Enough.

Good Enough vs. All

Most C level property management executives live for the numbers. They also demand that they have ALL the available information to back up the numbers. They will delay decisions for months on end if they think [not feel] that any piece of information evades them. When in comes to developing a premise for decisions in uncharted territory, Good Enough loses to All every time. Think about that in the context of making the case for incorporating social media into your on-line strategy.

The rub is that the industrial age, where Rock Logic thinking absolutely applied, has given way to the knowledge age and this generation thrives on making things happen in the midst of chaos. They thrive on making decisions based on Good Enough information knowing full well that they will remain nimble enough to change direction if need be. They thrive on trying new things and changing course at the drop of a hat. Fail fast succeed sooner is part of their DNA. 

All that in mind, convincing C level types that Good Enough, as it relates to embracing social media, will/should become their motto for the stump of 2009. Encourage and massage those negative capability muscles so that Good Enough has space in their thought process. Go for it and fight the good fight as your organization will be all the better for it.

All the Best Intentions in the Social Media World

All the good intentions in the world, as it relates to using social media to market apartments, mean nothing unless they are followed through with.

missthemarkTom Peters has carved out a very unique niche in the business consulting arena and rightfully so. His ideas, dating back 25+ years are as relevant today as they were back then. Many of them are still cutting the edge that we all innately yearn for. Over this Mother’s Day weekend I managed to read a post that really hit home in a simple but important kind of way. The following is an excerpt from the blog titled: Wrong Answer!

When I got back from the field, covered with mud (it was rainy season), I was sent directly to the Commandant with no time to change into a respectable uniform—a great embarrassment. General Chapman engaged in all of about 15 seconds of chitchat, and having done his duty to my aunt, sent me on my way. As I was literally walking out of his temporary field office, he summoned me back, and said, out of the blue, “Tom, are you taking care of your men?” (I had a little detachment, about 20 guys as I recall, doing the work described before.)

Yup, 40 years plus later, I remember his exact words—which is the point of this Post. I replied to the General, “I’m doing my best, sir.” To this day, with a chill going up my spine (no kidding—as I type this), I can see his face darken, and his voice harden, “Mr Peters, General Walt and I and General Buse are not interested in whether or not you are ‘doing your best.’ We simply expect you to get the job done—and to take care of your sailors. Period. That will be all, Lieutenant.”

The line, “we simple expect you to get the job done,” took me back to 1996. It was my rookie year in the role of property manager and I was as confident as they come – on top of the world and on top of my game. Or, so I thought.

The hand written note read; “all the best intentions in the world are worth nothing unless they are followed through with.” It was the last sentence in a long letter addressed to me from my district manager shortly after a very important property inspection. It floored me. It took my view of the world from a 6’7″ lens to that roughly the height of fire ant. Mind you – it was well deserved and sticks with me to this day.

She had entrusted me with a project that needed to be complete prior to the upcoming inspection. I put it off to the last minute not knowing that the regional manager would walk the property on the eve prior to the date her expected visit. She, along with my DM, caught us in the act of prepping the project in the eleventh hour and was clearly tweaked. The following day was both the best and the worst day of my PM career. The best in the sense that I clearly understood the definition of expectation – the worst in the sense that I did not meet it on behalf of the one that had bestowed the responsibility on me.

I say all that to say this – as we continue down the path of social media as it relates to marketing apartments; remember intentions must marry to expectations. Our consumer demands that we live up to and follow through with the ways in which they like to do business and not much concern is given to our sacred cows. Any more it is not our executive officers defining the way we do business – it is the consumer and we must engage. We must get the job done in a way that is being defined and redefined everyday.

What are your intentions for the coming week and who is driving them?

Have a famous week. M

Laid-Off Multifamily Execs – Can Win Free Admission to AIM Conference

Do you know someone who was recently laid-off from a multifamily management or investment firm? We at AIM have put together a special deal to help them get back on their feet:

Ten laid-off multifamily professionals will receive free admission to the 2009 AIM Conference and one-on-one career counseling services on site.

Find out more about the AIM Career Transitions giveaway at:

The application period begins today and closes on April 3, 2009. Winners will be announced the following week. The winners will be selected randomly from the pool of applications and will receive free admission to this year’s AIM Conference, regularly $595 per person. CallSource, a leading provider of call-tracking technologies and advisory services, is sponsoring the AIM Career Transitions giveaway.

The 2009 AIM Conference will be held in Denver, CO from April 29 – May 1, 2009 at the Denver Marriott City Center. To learn more about the AIM Conference, visit:

** THE AIM CONFERENCE: Focused, Cutting-Edge Education to Improve Skills & Careers **

Internet marketing is a revenue driver — and it’s one of the few revenue drivers that an apartment executive can control. If you’re looking for a career edge, knowing how to stimulate traffic and sales will give you bankable tools you can demonstrate to new employers. We want all attendees to leave AIM with the confidence and skills to continue to add value to their organizations in this tough economic climate.

The 2009 AIM agenda contains the best available resources to help attendees improve their careers and succeed in this current recession market. View the updated AIM 2009 agenda at:

Featured Career Transition Sessions:

To keep up with the changing economy, career counseling services will be available to all AIM 2009 attendees. Shirley Levey from Liberty Executive Search will give a special presentation on multifamily career advancement and will provide one-on-one counselor to the Career Transition winners.

In a special presentation that shouldn’t be missed, executive business coach and Harvard psychologist Sharon Melnick, Ph.D. will present on “Mindset Tools for Changing Times” in which she will share techniques to help executives to take charge of themselves and their organization.

View the updated AIM 2009 Agenda:












Apartment Leadership: 5 ways to cure tardiness

1. Educate: Make sure your standard and expectation are clear. And, communicate it often

2. Monitor: Keep track with a log – I would encourage you to automate it

3. Counsel: Communication is key – finding the why behind the behavior many times will solve the issue. Documentation is a must be it positive or negative. I use the SBI model: s: situation b: behavior i: impact – more on that in a later post

4. Follow up: Don’t wait for the behavior to happen again – instead follow up in three to five days and out some praise for showing up to work on time

5. Take corrective action: Hey, if you can’t change people; change people. Don’t be afraid to free up someone’s future.

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Memory Lane – Welcome Home

It seems like yesterday I was in Portland, Oregon leading and being lead by a team of twelve stellar real estate gurus. Collectively, we managed a portfolio of nearly 4000 units in five very different sub-markets. It was an absolute blast. And, during that time we managed to pull off some pretty innovative things. At least I think so.

In late 2004 and leading into 2005 we started playing with blogs and video. In the beginning the blogs were created to serve as a testament to the team in Portland and would include everything from recipes to leadership awards. And, all the contributions to the blog would be made by volunteers within our talented group. That blog [Portland Rocks Newsletter] is still going strong today – two years beyond my departure from the market. Video also became a big part of the adventure. We were in the beginning stages of creating everything from resident maintenance training videos – i.e., How to unclog your garbage disposal, to Welcome Home Maintenance Videos like this;

I was blown away by the efforts on Matt Steen and the team at LaSalle Apartment Homes in Beaverton, Oregon. They took this project to a whole new level and blew my expectations out of the water. I can recall the day I veiwed this video, I was speechless and so very proud.

It’s hard to explain the abosolute pleasure it was to lead and to be lead by such an amazing group of people. I owe much of learnings and motivations about the industry to each of them. Guys like this, who made it happen on the front lines of the business day in and day out. I hope you enjoy the fruits of their labor as much as I did/do.

Apartment Leadership: Question: What are you leaving in your wake?

I think the true, if not the truest, measure of leadership is how you make people feel. There are several deep meanings of word feel, none which I intend to discuss here. The main point and or question I have for the group is; How are you making your people feel?

Leaders drive the ship and every ship has a wake that is left behind. Every leader, whether they like it or not, is responsible for the positive or negative path of that wake. What does your wake look like relative to those you lead?

Do they wake in the morning anxious to get to work? or Do they wake feeling the dread of another day?

Do they approach their work with passion and charisma? or Do they do what is necessary to get by?

Do they often say, It’s six o’clock already? or Do they often say, It’s only three, ugh, three more hours!

Do they get right on it or do they just get to it?
Leaders, when you walk around your organization this week, ask some pointed questions. And for those of you who are thinking, hey pal, “soft stuff” is for softies. I suggest to you this is the hard stuff. This is the stuff you ignore only to have it bite you later.

Here’s the point – You, in many cases, are the cause and if you are making people feel this way, how do you think they are making subordinates and customers feel?


Sound like the same order of qualities I want to see in a property manager

Which of the following leadership qualities do you think is most important in a president?

  • Character — 816 votes, 43.38%
  • Vision — 715 votes, 37.89%
  • Experience — 169 votes, 9.02%
  • Backbone — 144 votes, 7.68%
  • Empathy — 39 votes, 2.03%

Source: Smartbrief

What do you think?


Lead a Tribe a post by eric

I have been fortunate enough to be involved in a Social Web Site, launched and led by Seth Godin, who is coining a name for Social Networks as Tribes. It was by invitation only, and has been an interesting and learning experience at watching and participating at how easy and how hard it can be to direct and lead a Social Site. It is in conjunction with a book and it’s commencing that Seth is doing, appropriately named Tribes. There is certainly lots of banter going about surrounding new media, social media, web 2.0 and social sites. There is myspace, facebook, flickr, YouTube and many more that all have a component of social connection. With the book launch in only Seth Godin fashion, he will take the mystery out of at least some of what and how social sites can flourish and again reinvent himself as well as position himself as an expert on the topic of social network sites. I am glad I am involved with the project and have learned a lot.

The way people purchase things today is changing before our eyes. Over the last three years Urbane Apartments has ceased traditional marketing efforts in exchange for a myspace site, a facebook site, YouTube and flickr sites and maximum exposure on our local Craigslist. We also use twitter regularly. We recently started a Social Network site on, the Like many other Social Network sites we have run into some snags, stalled membership, and lack of participation. We have regrouped and made directional corrections and believe we have an effective revised plan to give our residents enough reason and enough value to make regular visits, beyond just paying rent on line and placing a service request on line. Our Goal; To provide our residents with an experience and value with a high enough return to create enough Customer Evangelists within our core resident base that they self rent our apartments. We are working hard to lead our resident Influencers within our core resident base, and have transitioned most of our marketing budget inward, to further focus on our existing residents. Only good things have happened from this move. Resident retention has significantly improved, and we have created a forum and a field for the Influencers to participate. Along the path we hope to become Social Media experts based on our experience as to what works for multifamily and what doesn’t. We are learning as we go, but are seeing stellar results.

You too should try out some of these new paths. Become familiar with them, use them. They work, and they will work for you too. The central theme of all Social Media is creating community, which has always been what property management has been about.