Miss Management: Keeping Your Maintenance Team a Part of Your Team

by Carol Levey

I am a community manager with a team of seven. I enjoy my assignment which I’ve had for about a year but I’m finding that my maintenance guys don’t feel part of the team. They do a good job but I’ve been at properties where everyone works together and this is what I want here. Do you have any suggestions for going from good individual work to great teamwork involving the whole team? 

It is true that you are managing people more than property. Team members with both can compliment and complicate our ability to build and lead a community team. The first thing that comes to mind is a return to the basics. You are managing to achieve performance standards that cross traditional work assignment boundaries. Often individual assignment differences are dramatized or used as an excuse for not participating as a team. 

So the first concern is communicating that team performance is what matters. Performance standards must be established, communicated and rewarded. While individual performance gets through the daily routines there are standards being ignored or avoided. If this is allowed then team productivity and morale will suffer.  

Often when these conditions exist team meetings become sporadic and minimally productive which begs the question “why do we have meetings?” You might need to address this initially in your meetings but take leadership responsibility for allowing these issues to exist by not confronting them with your concerns. 

Indicate that going forward you will also take responsibility to get the full team to participate with community standards and goals.  Spell out expectations in writing. Indicate a 30-day plan to sit down with individuals for everyone’s input. Throughout this initial 30 days be transparent and direct about your thoughts and intentions. 

Document and coordinate your actions with your regional manager.  By the end of the 30 days you should be able to put forward a 90-day written community plan that involves the entire team. As the leader going forward, get buy-in from everyone, confront issues in real time and keep the team focused on performance results. 

Catch everyone doing something good and don’t be afraid to over-communicate. Individuals will prefer a team led approach just like you do and will work to keep it going once you have initiated it as their leader.