By: Nicholas A. Dunlap, CPM
I am not much of a TV watcher outside of sports, news and other documentary type programming, but recently I have taken a liking to a show on CBS named “Undercover Boss”. In the show, an Upper Level Executive hits the streets and visits the various locations in their firms operations. Along the way, the Executive interfaces with employees, customers and others as they relate to the various duties and tasks that function within their company. Of course, the Executive goes undercover and uses a fake name to mask their true identity, but in the end, the Executive comes away with a wealth of knowledge, a new understanding and appreciation for the way things work and most importantly, ideas on what to strengthen and how to improve.
As a Supervisor, I am at all of our properties at least once per week, speaking with the managers regarding pressing issues at the property and in the neighborhood, talking to maintenance personnel, checking on the progress of work and other projects, making sure the property looks, feels and operates to the company’s high standards of the quality of living experience. What’s more, I take pride in the fact that I have held EVERY position at our firm, from Janitor to Maintenance Tech to Leasing Agent to Resident Manager to now Property Supervisor. Not only do I know how long things should take, I know what they should cost, where someone might be cutting corners and as a result, I know how to lead them in the right direction.
It seems that somewhere along the line of progression from lower level to upper level in most companies there is a breakdown in customer service. Our leasing agents and resident managers stay sharp as they are trying to lease apartment homes and are constantly reminded to smile and stay positive. Yet this does not always translate into the administrational world of “that’s not my job” or “I didn’t know I needed to”. Customer service is a great tool to utilize in managing accountability and productivity. Consider the essence of customer service: assisting someone interested in your firm or your firm’s services. Regardless of your position in the company you work for, your actions directly represent the company. Would you not want to help someone interested in your firm or a service they provide? Are you more concerned with what is in your job description than what can be done to help those you work with?
Realize that some items are not recognized until they are forgotten or someone has dropped the ball. From here, understand that it is better to not be recognized for going above and beyond than to be recognized for underachieving, which typically results in a reprimand of sorts. There is not always a balance between the two and that is just the way life works sometimes. My tip for success at any level of an organization is simply to strive for excellence and to go above and beyond while always following the rules. Not only will you be satisfied with your own efforts, but you will feel rewarded in knowing that you gave it your best shot. True empowerment begins within. Encouragement from others is, like the age old idiom, icing on the cake.