In this ever-changing industry, we find our roles constantly shifting. Demands come in ebbs and flows depending on the needs of our clients and we have to ask, is property management more difficult for this generation than it was for our predecessors?
Sure, gone are the days of yellow handwritten cards for tenants, three hours of the constant nagging buzz of a dot matrix printer at end of month, collecting the rent at the tenant’s doorstep and giving out keys to tenants with a $50 deposit and a copy of the prospective tenant's drivers licence. Although I am horrified to say there are still agents out there that still practice the last one.
We have more technology at our finger tips, automated processes, software that can perform a myriad of tasks with the click of a button and yet we still hear of burnout, stress and the elusive barrier that is time.
With technology so firmly embedded into our lives, it becomes hard to tune out in an age where we are constantly switched on and more accessible to our clients. So how do we find a balance? I often hear the drone of “it's Gen Y, they just don’t want to work hard!” and I have to wonder whether this is actually the case?
First, let’s lose the titles, since misinformation often surrounds where ‘Gen X’ stops and ‘Gen Y’ starts. The introduction of ‘Gen Z’ to the workforce seems to have been forgotten and all three may as well meld together and, for the sake of this article, be known as ‘those young whippersnappers’ just to avoid confusion.
This generation deals with a whole new set of challenges as clients are more demanding, wanting the latest and greatest in an instant. Owners and tenants are no longer happy to wait and in many cases, are often screaming to have their demands met NOW.
The role of the property manager has changed and while many love the idea of a fancy title - and we see everything from senior property manager to executive property associate - the process worker role has become more varied and we are now looking towards a generation of client service managers.
These managers need to be able to think quickly on their feet, juggle the needs and volatile personalities of their clients as well as continue to tackle the process work, keeping up with systems, checks and balances plus evolving legislation and technological advances along the way. In some cases this has become a 24-hour work cycle with the inability to turn off.
So how do we find that balance? Because let’s face it, in many cases the work/life balance rule has changed and I hear of property managers now with their smartphones at their bedside answering emails in the wee hours. Believe me when I tell you, sleep is a commodity that should not be wasted. Let’s look at some tips to getting you on the track to some form of balance and sanity;
· The more readily you make yourself available, the more your clients will expect. Set your availability and manage their expectations from the start to reduce headaches down the road.
· Most tasks in property management are repetitive and can be planned. Plan a routine and stick to it. Once you stray from the yellow brick road, you are bound to get lost along the way. This is one of the first steps towards stress and burnout.
· Respond to calls and emails. One of the biggest complaints we hear of is communication or lack thereof. If someone has taken the time to call or email you, it is important in their world no matter how insignificant you may think it is. Take the time to respond within a set timeframe and don’t leave it until it explodes.
· Have detailed policies and procedures and ensure that the team stays on track with checks and balances.
Lastly, I implore you, after hours please switch off the emails, switch off the technology and take five minutes to step outside, breathe the warm spring air and enjoy the sunshine while you can. Don’t squander precious hours sweating the small stuff. This is a fabulous industry if you allow yourself to see the beauty in it, and one hell of a ride.