Team Management
Train them, support them, empower them by Julie Adamen julie@adamen-inc.com

“Developing new managers in-house is an investment you must make if you are going to have the right staff to grow and thrive. In house-training is going to be an absolute must for management firms.”1
Julie Adamen

Most management companies still don’t have the time nor the resources to truly provide effective in house training and development of new (or existing) staff. As promised,  I’m going to give you a training method that is, proven, easy to set up and virtually free, offers the added benefits of providing manager support and empowerment, and moves senior staff away from managing day-to-day little issues.  It can be done, right now, in almost any company. Team up your managers.

Basic Team Management Mission, structure and set up:

The Mission. The Mission of the Team is to provide comprehensive community management to all of the Team’s accounts, to be able to provide interim management in the event of manager absence that is seamless, to provide structure for manager training, development and empowerment, leading to more satisfied clients and employees.

Formation. The Team should consist of 3 to 5 managers and their assistants, if any. The Team formation also includes the appropriate number of assistants who are dedicated to accounts within this Team only. Team formation should be done with care and thoughtfulness on how the members and their accounts will interact.

Team leaders. A Team leader should be appointed by senior staff or elected by the Team.  This leader is responsible for making sure the Team holds its meetings, works cohesively and meets the charter set out by the management firm.

Teams meet and communicate regularly.  All Teams must meet on a regular basis, preferably weekly, and communicate daily. The Team itself must work out this timing and the Team leader is responsible for making the meetings happen.

What should the Team know?

Each team member should maintain a working knowledge of all accounts being managed by the Team members. Over time, each Team member should attend at least one Board meeting of each other’s associations, as well as visit each site. Why? The Mission of the Team necessitates they go beyond simply having the names and phone numbers of Board members and service providers; the Mission requires relatively in-depth knowledge about the communities: Who’s really in charge, what are the real problems? What’s the current big deal? What’s the next? If managers have been around each other for a while, they probably know quite a bit about each other’s accounts. The Team structure formalizes this knowledge and keeps the Team accountable to and for each other.

Team Goals: Support, Development and Empowerment

This Team system provides managers with an internal support structure that doesn’t place an immediate burden on senior management. The Team goes beyond sounding board and soft place to land, it becomes competent to shift accounts within the group almost seamlessly to prevent manager burnout, or to cover for vacations, maternity leaves, etc., alleviating much pain and burden on executives, staff and the clients.

A Management Team becomes the unit to train and develop new (and existing) managersmaking them productive members almost from the get-go as they work hand in hand with the seasoned staff on the Team. The trainee learns what the real issues are and how managers deal with them, at almost no cost to the company or burden on senior staff.  Developing new members can provide strong Team and company loyalty and provide great professional satisfaction to all parties involved.

Maybe most important of all, the Team of Managers is an empowered group, given the latitude to problem solve, make decisions and keep clients happy with as much discretion as is reasonable to the situation. A culture of empowerment means senior staff is pushing decisions down to the lowest competent level, freeing them up to address more pressing issues.  Empowered employees feel trusted and valued, with a sense of control over their working lives.

Team Supervision. Although an established Management Team will free up senior staff from a lot daily supervision, there will have to be guidance and support given to them regularly on a macro-basis.  As opposed to supervising 15 managers individually, the Team concept allows senior staff to supervise 3 Teams who are structured to take care of each other’s day to day needs. This is a much more efficient use of senior staff’s time and resources, and again, it empowers the Team resolve common problems and issues arising in the workaday world of community management.

The Wrap Up:

At the end of the day, the idea is that Teams work and care for their own, forming cohesive, efficient management units. Teams become empowered employees that have a say in their everyday work life and a vested interest in their Team, which translates in to a vested interest in the company. Teams develop a sense of responsibility for each other and their work-product. They are able to fill in when a member is absent, or struggling with a particularly sticky situation. Supervisory staff is freed from managing dozens of little day-to-day problems, pushing those down to the lowest competent level: The empowered Team. Lastly, and pointedly, these units can provide an excellent  platform for the development of new managers at very little cost to the company.

Really? Yes it does work. A few years back my principle of team management (called a “Pod of Managers“) was picked up by a management company in the Atlanta area. I found out about it by accident, then located and interviewed the owner. He found team management highly functional, provided a training environment, reduced turnover, improved productivity and the bottom line. In addition there was the growth component, and the company expanded. The owner attributed all of that to the implementation of the team management system.

Footnotes:
1. From HOA Manager NewsLine, August 2014, The State of Employment.

Suggested reading to start. WikiBooks has a great article: Managing Groups and Teams where the 5 points of Appreciation, Incentive, Relevance, Performance Measurement, and Interpersonal Relationships are discussed, The Discipline of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith, The Wisdom of Teamsby Jon R. Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith,The Discipline of Teamsby Jon R. Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith

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