Embracing Change in Multifamily

Embracing Change in Multifamily

Andee Myatt has over 25 years of experience in property management, so she is very familiar with embracing change in Multifamily!  She has worked at every level, from leasing consultant to Executive Vice President with powerhouse companies. She has great experience and perspective on our industry.  Andee sat down with Pam Pederson to discuss how we can not just survive but thrive in this rapidly changing environment.

How do you define change in multifamily?  To observe change in our industry, all we have to do is show up for work and look around!  Change is everywhere, perhaps, especially in this industry.  Successful people in the multifamily industry thrive in a rapidly changing, sometimes even chaotic, environment.  That is not to say that change is always comfortable or easy.

What advice do you have for a Multifamily company implementing major changes?   Begin communicating on transitions and changes early in the process, not after the project is ready to be rolled out.  Vet any changes with team members early and get their input.  Make sure the changes you plan to implement actually make progress toward your goal.  Embracing trends brings no benefits if you don’t have buy-in and participation at the property level.  Make sure goals are clear and well-defined, rather than merely announcing them.  Be ready to answer the question, “what problem does this solve?”.

What are some examples of what not to do when implementing change?  We have all seen changes implemented that sounded great on paper but just “didn’t go” when rolled out to the participants.  An initiative to have employees charge expenses to their own credit cards rather than company cards seemed helpful on paper.  Employees could even keep the reward points they earned for the charges on their loyalty credit cards.  It was not considered that everyone does not have the required level of available credit on their accounts, and they may not want to raise their personal credit limit. An initiative to automate or digitize ongoing contacts with prospects may be loved by management.  But seasoned onsite staff may have a “low tech” method of keeping up with those contacts that is proven and effective.

How have you utilized change management in Multifamily?  Every team member is really a change manager.  Even at the property level, embracing and accepting change can make for a better move-in experience.  Good changes in multifamily have resulted in improvements for our employees, as well as our residents and prospects.  Changes in Fair Housing practices have made enormous strides in making sure everyone feels welcome.  Electronic (paperless) and other green initiatives have been very successful throughout the industry.  Though change is not always welcome, it is sometimes scarier to be at a company where nothing ever changes.  Make sure you don’t gain a reputation as being “that person” who always rejects changes before even giving them a chance.

How can we combat the stress of change in Multifamily?  Know and use the tools that are available to you – both virtual and human.  Educate yourself on self-care and how to manage your own stress.  No one can be responsible for your mental health but you, so take responsibility for it!  Nurture professional and personal friendships that make life better for you so you have someone to turn to when the stress becomes too much.  We are passionate about what we do but still must step back sometimes and take ownership of our own mental health.  Trust yourself in what you need to thrive.  Be honest about what you can do and what you can’t do.  Keep a positive mental attitude, so you are a good influence on those around you, and you will also help with their stress levels.  Having everyone in the office take a ten-minute break to go outside and pick up the trash can shake up the environment in a positive way. 

Enduring significant change can even affect the mind and body, similarly to we experience grief.  The stages of grief are Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance.  Significant change may require us to go through those same stages before fully embracing new initiatives and practices.  There are some ways to make progress through this grief-like process easier:

Prepare for Change 

  • Define OCM strategy and key drivers.
  • Recruit a change management team.
  • Design and build a sponsorship model.

 Plan and Implement Change

  • Develop change management plans, define metrics, and identify risks.
  • Execute plans.
  • Review progress and report to stakeholders.
  • Celebrate Achievements

Continuously Improve

  • Capture key metrics.
  • Survey organization.
  • Analyze results.
  • Create and execute corrective action plans.                           

Change in multifamily is unavoidable but not unendurable.   Planning well before changes are implemented, accepting feedback with grace, and taking good care of yourself can smooth the process for you and your teams.  Keeping a good mental attitude will make periods of change easier for you and for those around you.  Be willing and eager to accept changes!

Andee Myatt

Multifamily Executive

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