We’ve all met them. They are the ones so full of themselves that you cannot help but be underwhelmed within moments of meeting them. They quickly ensure you know “they” have the power to make your life miserable “if” they choose. They are also the reason many of us went into business for ourselves! As business owners, we always choose who we will or will not work with! That’s the biggest benefit of owning the business! I provide great service and a fabulous product. I treat my customers with respect and courtesy and do not have time for those who demand I jump through unrealistic hoops. I regularly go out of my way for great clients but will shut down a power tripper in seconds. Thanks but no thanks! I have been watching quietly as a “power tripper” situation has evolved with a business associate. It’s become a disaster quickly and thought I would share for the benefit of other business owners.
When power trippers work as middle managers there is a subtle change that takes place. Long term employees begin taking sick days or suddenly require stress leave. Employees you could rely on, and have always done a fabulous job suddenly quit. Sometimes, if an employee is a threat to the power tripper, or questions the power trippers authority, your model employees are quickly found to have performance issues and the “power tripper” finds cause for their termination. If the power tripper is manipulative and creative enough, they have upper management eating out of their hands, convincing upper management that only “the power tripper” is doing a good job and can be counted on. Owners’ experience feelings of betrayal for having long term employees suddenly leave. The “power trippers” validates your feelings of betrayal and suggests that you can only trust them. Voila! You have a sure recipe for disaster. Sadly, before management catches on, a bad power tripper can have a significant impact on your business. Forcing or scaring off many long term dedicated employees and can significantly affect your cash flow.
Long term employees you could always count on to be honest with you and have your back, become too frightened to speak up. They become caught between a rock and a hard place. This is especially true is if the power tripper feels threatened by them. They quickly set up the threat for disciplinary action, and eventually termination. This is a warning to everyone else. Hence, sick days begin to become more common and eventually you will see a large turn over in your staff. In the end, very few employees will remain with a power tripper in their midst. Faithful employees will give upper management an opportunity to identify and address the problem. However, if management fails and allows the power tripper to pull the wool over their eyes and accepts the power trippers’ explanation for sudden alarming increase in staff attrition, your good employees feel backed into a wall and are scared to face the bully and risk losing their jobs. Easiest option, find a new job! Think about it for a moment, if an employee has been with you for many years; they are giving up significant benefits by resigning– longer vacation time; seniority; health benefits; RRSP contributions; preference when choosing vacation time…. When they start somewhere else they start all over again. So the situation must have had to be pretty bad for them to leave. Every employee should be required to have an exit interview with HR or upper management. Someone removed from their immediate coworkers and supervisors should conduct the interview. No one from their immediate supervisory team should even be present, at least if you want the truth and have your now ex-employee feel safe to speak their minds. If you find your business is suddenly experiencing a higher attrition rate than normal – the sooner you determine the cause and remove it – the less impact it will have on your business and your bottom line.
Staff attrition is more of issue in some industries than others. This can make it more difficult to identify a problem power tripper in your midst. However, in most cases, business owners and upper management with long standing experience in the same company can be made aware of an anomaly. It’s actually quite rare for a large number of long term staff members to suddenly go looking and find something better. In the example of Property Management Companies; you need strong solid people in place to ensure that the chain of paperwork is carried out as required to a tee! If you have good people with strong respectful relationships with the tenants. They know what must be done and have had years doing it firmly and as delicately as possible. The paperwork required by the Residential Tenancies Branch is exhaustive and must in handled in a specific A – B – C set of rules. You have one document missing and you start from scratch! If you are trying to evict a tenant for disturbing others or not paying the rent, and you do not address the problem in a timely manner it can cause multiple problems. It annoys other tenants who may be great tenants but now want to move because management “did nothing” so they obviously “don’t’ care”. Tenants and rents are what the Property Management Companies plan all budget, cash flow and ultimately the work that they can or cannot afford to do.
Now imagine your area Area Property Manager was a power tripper. In a small office of 7-8 people, most of whom had worked there for years, friendships form, it’s almost like an extended family. Then you have multiple building and area managers. Building managers and area managers/property managers are the ones who must deal with all the paperwork. From complaints to repair requests payment delays in rent and finally termination of lease for a number of legislated reasons. The communication chain must operate efficiently and concisely and in duplicate/or triplicate with verification of paper service from tenant right on up to the senior Property Manager. This is quite a chain you must rely on for communication to work effectively. A power tripper forgets to provide notice of water shut off to the building – can you imagine the number of angry calls and tenants this building manager has to deal with and most are not understanding! Maybe it was a simple oversight but power trippers will NEVER acknowledge a mistake. It’s always someone else’s fault. It’s possible they intentionally wanted to cause a problem to make the manager look bad and maybe “create” a reason for termination. Upper management looking down can never conduct a proper interview if the power tripper is sitting right there and upper management loses the opportunity to get to the root of the problem before it gets too bad! Have this happen over and over with multiple Caretakers with a continual turnover rate at a rate of one caretaker every 2-3 three months – and your building is in serious trouble!
Take the step to start taking to your staff, especially when you have a new person in a management position. Listen to what your long term staff provide in feedback. They have spent years invested in your business success. Trust them to give you feedback on new employees as well. Find out what they think. When you’ve had 3 of 7 long term employees suddenly leave the office in a matter of months after being happy for many years – it is the RESPONSIBILITY of management to find out why!
If this power tripper is in a position to change any of the factors that directly reflect your bottom line at the end of the month; or effect your monthly cash flow, you have a moral and professional obligation to find out what’s going on fast! People always work for people they like better. They will do more, than is required, they will make an effort to do their job better and make your job easier for you, if they can. These are the people you want on you team! They look after your back and know you have an open door to hear their feedback and complaints. Those are the Caretakers who want to ensure they keep their buildings fully rented, clean, operating efficiently and turning in full rents! Now enter power tripper. How motivated is the Caretaker to go over and above when they will get screwed over. Anything they do right they get no credit for and anything that goes wrong is all blamed on them. Again you have people who become stressed on leave or too sick and begin to look elsewhere.
You as a business owner, find your bottom line unravelling. If you cannot keep a caretaker in a position because they cannot stand their Area Manager, your buildings will quickly show the effects. Vacancies, repairs going unattended, less than desirable tenants to fill vacancies, and of course, tenant complaints to the RTB suddenly sky rocket! Depending on the level of frustration – a really annoyed individual can really create chaos in a very short time. Tenants get annoyed and leave, or they have their friend who used to Caretaker in the building coming back to tell them why they should leave and even help all the good tenants in the building find a better place! After all she knows their current rent and what they could get elsewhere. Once you piss off a long term employee who has done nothing but look after you, you are left to deal with the consequences. Some people may walk away but others might not. Be prepared for vengeance. It’ll be amazing if that block doesn’t lose a majority of their good tenants and go right down the tubes. It can takes years to bring a building back up to a certain level of good happy respectful tenants who pay their rents on time.
In any business, you must have a strong team in the trenches dealing with the day to day. You must have strong supportive personal that communicate well and obtain a tremendous amount of respect from all co-workers. If one Power Tripper is cleaning house of all your long term reliable employees, what will be the financial damage? For Property Managers, repairs will become higher as tenants become more frustrated. Buildings begin to deteriorate when you do not have strong managers in place or they are only there a few days before they are anxious to leave! Tenants may get away with missing rents if there is no one to collect them. Finally when cases get to the Residential Tenancies Branch – too bad! Nothing can do without the correct evidence and paperwork! Oops – you have no one in place to make the paperwork!! You’re too busy chasing the tenants and building managers who pull a midnight move rather than have to deal with your power tripper!!! Oh gee, now you’re also having difficulties paying your receivables because you just don’t have enough rents coming in.
When you think of all the issues together maybe it’s time to consider you ONLY made one bad hire! You’ve been doing this for years and have had a pretty successful hiring rate and a great attrition rate for keeping great employees. Anyone who has ever been in the property management business can attest to is that the most seemingly wonderful applicant can turn into your worst nightmare. Guess that goes for employees too! So when things go desperately wrong and you don’t know why – look back to when that started. That’s always where you’ll find your answer!