Lee Iacocca once said that if you want a sound company, “You start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.”
Ideally, a property manager wants exactly what Iacocca built an empire around: an office filled with harmonious, hard-working, diligent and cooperative staff members. Unfortunately, even the most harmonious co-op or condo community is going to experience occasional friction between staff members or between the staff and management. Sometimes contentious situations may arise from personality conflicts, a matter of an employee’s improper conduct or his or her inability to fulfill the duties expected. Regardless of the origin, there are methods for dealing with these problems with a minimum of acrimony and disruption to building business.
According to Matt Nerzig, communications director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU-32BJ), the largest building service workers union in the country, the most common staff issues brought to the union’s attention generally revolve around open position cases, schedule changes, days-off and disciplinary actions.
According to Peter Grech, former president of the New York Superintendents Technical Association (NYSTA) and a building manager for over 25 years, gossiping and cutting corners are common problems among staff members. “They gossip about everything—each other, other tenants, and so forth,” says Grech. “[Certain employees], they cut corners or don’t do a thorough job—they mop, but don’t sweep, etc.”
At a previous job where Grech was resident manager, he was having difficulty with a 40-year-old porter who was partying too much at night and making a habit of coming in late to work. According to Grech, he tried everything he could think of to get the guy to get it together—to prevent him from losing his job. When all else failed, Grech had one more trick up his sleeve—he called the employee’s mother.