Inspire Passion

Imagine if your property team had the same passion as new Zappos employees who are offered $2,000 to leave the company after completing a six-week training program. Zappos' remarkable success is attributed to the company’s culture that is dedicated to wowing customers every time they place an order on the phone or online. Zappos attributes all of its success to its culture of service and the passion of its team members to deliver memorable customer experiences.

How can you tell if your team is passionate about what they do? Passion in the workplace is hard to define, sort of like Justice William O. Douglas' trying to define pornography. Douglas said, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."

You know who your passionate employees are. They understand your company's "why." It's not so much what you do – manage income-producing real estate assets – but the reason why you manage properties. The job you perform for most of your residents and tenants is to make a positive difference in their lives. Passionate property management professionals make their residents and tenants smile every time they cross the property’s threshold. That's priceless.

Passionate property management professionals are generally curious. They question the status quo. They simply do not settle for an easy button to replace creativity and effort.  These are the team members who know that PMEXPO (April 20) is a must-attend event because it provides a blank canvas to express creativity and find new and better solutions to daily tasks and challenges.

Every management company has passionate team members. These are the managers, technicians, executives and others who genuinely care about those they serve and understand that what they do makes a positive contribution to the living and working environments of most Washington area residents. It’s not a job to collect a paycheck. It’s a profession that allows them to help others. And if you challenge the last statement, read a few of the profiles about PACE Award-winning properties in BULLETIN.  Do you really believe that the only reason the PACE-winning teams show up for work is to receive a paycheck?

Jim Whitehurst, author of “The Open Organization,” offers five suggestions to foster passion in your workplace, which in turn helps fuel great performance.

Let your team members show their emotions. Emotions are not a liability. Inspiration, enthusiasm, motivation and excitement about what employees do every day are emotional responses that are positive. If you ask employees to leave their emotions at the door, what statement are you actually making?

How do you attract your next superstar? First, look to the superstars you already have. Let their enthusiasm and performance serve as your best recruiting tools. Task them with finding others who share their passion and reward them with referral incentives when they bring in new team members who can make a difference.

Celebrate and showcase your team's passion. Place videos on your web site that show the passion of your team members in action. Enthusiasm can be infectious.

Grant autonomy. Let your passionate team members work on projects that interest them the most and then step back and marvel at how well they can perform.

Connect job functions to a purpose. If your purpose is simply managing properties, you may find it difficult to instill a culture of passion. Create context by connecting your team members' job functions with the reasons why residents and tenants lease from you and the many jobs that you perform for them. Connecting passion to mission will increase productivity to new heights.

One of the many roles of property managers and executives is to instill passion in their team and then reinforce it daily. You should also recognize that not everyone on your team can or will be passionate. That's okay. It just reinforces the notion that you can't be all things to all people, Whitehurst writes.