Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What goes around, Comes around

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on how corporate can really do a number on those who are just trying to be creative and innovative.  This is kind of a follow up and a brief reminder that corporate decisions should really come as no surprise.  In other words, remember to never get too comfortable.  What may appear as peachy keen and hunky dory in one moment, can change in an instant after they review their quarterly P&L.  Then all of a sudden, its the "Oh No", and "We spent that much", and "Now things got to change" speeches.  Their typical solution is not using the resources they have in their people, but letting those resources pack their bags and head out the door.

This is a reminder that our multifamily career path should never be fixated on a single course.  If you are fortunate enough to have had only one job your entire life, then I tip my hat to you.  For most of us that does not happen.  The only thing you need to be focused on is to not treat individuals the way you were treated by your corporate heads.  Those who squashed your creativity look exactly like our CEO in the video below.  In your comments below you can call him what you want.  Thanks for stopping by and remember what comes around is not vengeance but your opportunity to rise, shine, and fulfill your goals no matter what.

Written by Jonathan Saar--The Training Factor

Friday, October 23, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure Series: Fair Housing Education

Fair housing laws are not something to be treated lightly.  The law was enacted in order to protect the civil rights of all human beings living here in the United States.  Just because the law was enacted over 40 years ago, does not mean that we have breached the discrimination here in this country.  As last year’s CNN report so eloquently reports for us below. 

So this is just my personal reminder to not take proper training for granted.  Not only do you not want to face criminal proceedings and unwanted publicity if you and your staff are caught breaking the law, but you need to remind yourself and your team the depth of your belief in this important law that was enacted to give freedom and equality to all people.  The Fair housing act is constantly being reviewed and updated which continues to put great responsibility on the multifamily industry.

Take a minute and run through these memory tests

Here are a couple of others that you can just think about.
Name 10 people that you met for the first time at your last conference without looking at their business cards.
Recall the scores out loud of the 3 football games you were following last weekend.

Now you may or may not have done so well on these little tests.  Here is the point though; our memories are always being challenged.  Do you think it makes sense to take a fair housing course just once and feel that is all that is needed?  Do you think that this is all your team needs?  Please make good decisions.  Our memories are fickle and our able to retain and apply information is based on the repetition we give to any given subject.  Brent Williams from Multifamily Insiders made an important point yesterday with me.  It seems that there is much fear with multifamily professionals about committing a violation of the Fair housing act, which I agree with him 100 %.  It can be very scary to fulfill your work responsibilities and have the law hanging over your head.  Here is my little analogy.  I always had two types of emotions when I was about to complete my course exams at the end of my semester.  If I studied and worked hard, I walked into that room with a sense of confidence.  If I did not, then fear was the emotion of the moment.  

So that leaves us with this question.  If our team members are fearful over possible Fair housing violations, what are we doing to alleviate that?

Written by Jonathan Saar-- The Training Factor

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure Series: Sexual Harassment Math Quiz

Let’s take a quick crack at some math.  We are going to take a look at a figurative multifamily situation involving a community with 20 employees.  The property management company does not believe that training is necessary in order to help prevent sexual harassment claims.

As a result of that line of thinking someone makes what they think is an innocent statement towards another employee and then BOOM!!!!!!! A claim is filed with the property manager.  Are your pencils sharpened?  Good!  Let’s see how much this is going to cost our figurative multifamily company.

The first step they have to take is to hire a professional to investigate the situation.  Usually this is an entire business week that is charged back to the property management company. The typical cost is 40 hours X $100.00 per hour.  That’s $4000.00. After that the investigative company mandates that the entire staff take a day of offsite sexual harassment prevention training.  Pencil’s ready?  Let’s say the average pay per hour is $15.00 per hour.  So we need to calculate $15.00 X 8 hours X 20 employees.  Total cost to the company for that training day.  $2400.00

Now you need to factor in travel expenses, meals, textbook and materials, and of course the person you are paying to train your 20 team members.  That will add approximately another $1500.00.  The grand total for this sexual harassment claim----$7900.00.  Let’s not even go down the road if the alleged victim decides to take their claim to court and wins.

Now let’s theorize how much it would cost this company if they had instituted a preventive training program that had a sexual harassment prevention course that could be tracked and analyzed where the team members needed help on this subject.  For an LMS with a Sexual Harassment prevention course, it would cost a company as little as $35.00 per year per employee to take the course twice.  That’s approximately $700.00 a year to train the whole company. 

I’ll let you do the math.

Written by Jonathan Saar. Average statistics provided by The Training Factor

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Corporate Cut the Tabs! -My Take on the Interview with Captain Sullenberger

If any of you missed out on The Daily Show with John Stewart the other day, the interview with Captain Chesley Sullenberger is below.  First of all, our hats go off to this amazing person who showed such poise and saved so many lives.  There were two particular points from his interview that struck home with me.  Much thanks to my wife Renee, who totally rocks, for pointing them out to me.

For my multifamily colleagues and really for all of us in business, here they are. 
1.       Corporations need to invest in training and
2.       Put the Tabs Back!!!!!!!
The interview is only about 7 minutes long, so please watch and then see my comments below.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Chesley Sullenberger

Daily Show
Full Episodes

Political Humor
Ron Paul Interview

How many of you thought how completely lame and ridiculous it was for an airline to mess with an emergency handbook!!  As the Captain stated, “I think it would make the system better if we put the tabs back.”  Corporate somehow came to a conclusion that to cut costs, it would be a good idea to take the tabs out!!

This is just an amazing example of where some corporate officials have their heads.  Unfortunately this line of thinking continues across the corporate world and seems to have leaked into the multifamily industry.  It continues to sadden me to hear of major layoffs as a result of the perception that this is the only way to cut costs.   These employees are the ones who have been trying to get their voices heard and who have consistently tried to present to their corporate heads cost saving solutions in order to help their company succeed.  But they feel like my illustration up at the top-gagged and tied up.  And the corporate solution- “Let’s cut back on the tabs.”

This post may be of little consolation to those who are stunned and hurt over what has happened to you.  You are thinking to yourself—“After all the years I have devoted myself to my job and I just got treated like a Tab!!!”  I was a victim of that once as well and I am sorry for what you are going through.

Thank goodness for the Captain’s training.  It saved lives that day.  In the multifamily industry, you cannot go without a training program.  When it counts the most, the training you provide for your staff may save you from a Fair Housing or Sexual Harassment disaster.  Do you keep wondering why your marketing dollars are not bringing the return you hoped for?  The training you provide for your leasing, maintenance and management team will change that.

This message may never reach the people who really need to hear it, but you are reading this now and remember to take this with you as you progress in your multifamily professional career.
P.S. please take a moment and comment.  Thank you.

Written by Jonathan Saar who was inspired by his wonderful wife for this post.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is Social Media Like Baking a Cake?

I remember making my first Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake . I was around 12 years old and my wonderful mother was trying to teach me to bake. This was no cake in a box method, it was all from scratch. She outlined the necessary steps in order to be successful. Read the recipe carefully. Make sure I have all my ingredients. Get out all my measuring instruments. Then begin the step by step process as outlined in the recipe. Thankfully I had my mother there while I painstakingly went through the steps. There was very little room for error, so I needed to be precise. She gave me some tips as I went along and Voila! I had my first cake.

I was thinking about that this morning and applied it to the continuing debate on how to employ Social Media. I imagined myself making that cake and not using the right ingredients, not measuring properly, and not reading through and applying the steps outlined in the recipe. What would I have? I would have a huge mess, failure, and something that would not represent my Mom very well.

Social Media is no different. You cannot just jump on the band wagon and throw a whole bunch of ingredients together and hope to have some sort of tangible results! The recipe is research. The ingredients are the right Social Media options that will suit your business plan and purpose. The measuring instruments speak for themselves. It is important to employ the right amount of any given ingredient. The steps also speak for themselves.

Is there only one recipe for Devil’s Food Cake? Absolutely not! They may all have similar characteristics, but each baker has their own unique recipe that fits them. Social Media is the same. You need to find your recipe. You need to measure and you need to take careful steps. Hopefully you will have a cool Mom to help you along the way.

Written by Jonathan Saar -The Training Factor

For more information on Multifamily Leasing and Fair Housing Training, please visit our site.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is Email a Form of Communication?

Email etiquette is something that is extremely important in the professional world.  We have been trained on proper spelling, not using acronyms, using proper grammar and of course making sure we do not blab on and on over a subject that can be wrapped up in a few short sentences.

Email has become one of the fastest ways to send a message to a colleague, employer, and clients.  Text messaging is now becoming just as popular to send out quick bursts of information.  So back to my question: Is Email a Form of Communication?

Let’s analyze that question with some other examples.  If you are standing in front of a person who is asking you a question and you do not respond to them, are you communicating? The answer is NO.  If you are on the phone with someone who is sharing information with you and you say nothing in reply, is that communication?  The answer is NO.

The only way to truly define basic communication is when 2 or more parties in any given setting are actually exchanging words in some fashion.  So, is email a form of communication?  It can be only if you have the manners to actually reply back.  Otherwise you are no different than the person cited in the examples above.  How would you describe the person not responding in our two examples?  I will let you answer that in the comment section below.

For some odd reason “some” in this professional world have begun to view email as a “If I feel like responding” or “This email from this person is just not that important to me”.  Now before you get all ruffled, I am not talking about spammers or those companies who buy lead lists and shoot out a blast email with their latest product or service they are selling.  I am referring to all individuals who send you a message that has your name in it with some information and questions perhaps and then closes with their signature.  Can someone answer me as to why those emails would not be responded to?

Here is an image we can all relate to, 20 years ago, your parents are standing beside you and someone is talking to you.  You do not say anything in reply and what did your folks do to you next?

We have a lot to do each day, but setting an example in communication is paramount.  Some email responses may need some time and others may simply need a “No thank you” or “I have that covered”.  Whatever the case may be email is communication and when professionals do not respond, I wonder what you would call them?

Written by Jonathan Saar—The Training Factor

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hello!!!!! Anyone in There????

The above title can be a common expression when dealing with our fellow team members.  Our ability to communicate and to be communicated to is a major determining factor in our leadership skills.  The complete slowdown and or failure in the business process are usually attributed to a complete breakdown of communication between various departments.  Then the frustration, anxiety, uncertainty and many other negative emotions are the soup du jour.  How would you feel if these emotions are what described your communication business process?  Maybe it’s time for a second look at your communication policies.

Here is an example of a typical corporate situation.  Your superior assigns you a project wanting to see a specific outcome in order to enhance a particular business process.  You research, brainstorm, rough draft and then bring the project to a final proposal.  You present the information to your superior but that is the last you ever hear of it.  No next steps, no implementation date---nothing!  What happened?  You may never know.  Reason why this took place—no communication.

This is one little teeny tiny example that barely scratches the surface of where breakdowns in communication can hurt the daily process.  So what can practically be done?  Maybe the title of this blog should be the theme of your next communication training meeting. 

Some other symptoms of bad communication would be finger pointing, lack of follow through, no clear direction for next project and the list goes on.  Those are the symptoms, how about attacking the disease.  Lack of policy is the disease.  The communication policy needs to include everyone.  It does little good for a policy to affect only certain departments but never applied by the leaders of the company.  One word for that—FAILURE.

You want to start saving money and make your company a happy and productive place to work—this is my tip of the day: Open your two ears and do a lot more listening and do half the talking.  That's what my Mom would always say to me.  What does your communication policy sound like?  I hope it's not like the one demonstrated in our video below.  Enjoy the laugh.

Written by Jonathan Saar:  The Training Factor

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Bang for Your Buck

This was an absolutely hilarious training video in my opinion, but then again I am often told my sense of humor is quite dry.  From a business point of view, this video has such a great analogy.  Keeping this all in good humor of course, but can you honestly imagine this poor guy making it to the Olympics with this existing program he is using?  It may be cheap, it may look like what the real Olympic training programs are, but the bottom line is that it is NOT!

There seem to be quite few companies offering multifamily training programs out there.  They promise the world, they say they can offer it for half the price of other systems which is probably absolutely the truth.  I guess the moral and professional dilemma is the decision to choose what training is best for your multifamily team.  What kind of bang do you want for your buck?  Maybe it depends on how bad you want the gold medal for your team.

Written by Jonathan Saar The Training Factor