By Pamela Alton
As the on-site manager of a storage facility, you have many responsibilities: telephone sales, customer service, showing and renting units, maintenance, outside marketing and daily management duties, to name a few. One of the duties probably not covered in your facility policy and procedures manual is interacting with your supervisor, district manager or facility owner.
Some managers many never see or hear from their supervisor. Others feel like they almost live with them. No matter which is true for you, there are basic rules in dealing with your superior.
Letter of Employment
When you accepted your current position, your owner or supervisor should have drafted a Letter of Employment that spells out your job duties, compensation package and goals he wants you to achieve at your facility. This is the critical first step in setting up an honest and open communication policy with your superiors. If you currently don't have such a letter, perhaps you should discuss this with your employer and ask that one be drafted.
Obviously, when you were hired, your job duties should have been discussed with you, and any questions you had should have been answered for you at that time. Periodically, you should review these duties with your supervisor. If you are bored and can handle more responsibility, ask for more things to do. If you are overwhelmed with your current duties, discuss how you can get them done by reorganizing your time or prioritizing your tasks. Perhaps ask for some outside help with maintenance or marketing duties. Your supervisor many not know you need help unless you talk about it.
Try to set aside several times a year to discuss your personal and business goals for the next year, quarter or month. Set your goals high enough to make you stretch, but achieve those goals. Don't allow yourself or your supervisor to set unattainable goals you can't achieve. This will only serve to de-motivate you. Your goals could be increasing occupancy by 2 percent to 5 percent each month, decreasing delinquency levels, overseeing cosmetic repairs at your facility or designing a monthly marketing program. They could be personal goals, such as attending computer classes, Spanish classes, graphic design for your ads and brochures, joining a community club to expose your facility to another market while enjoying the company of people with similar interests. Whatever the goal is, discuss it with your supervisor.
Communicating on a regular basis with your facility owner or supervisor is a must. Not only does it help you with problems or situations that arise at your facility, but communication will also help you know if you are doing a good job or if there is room for improvement. One of the ways to communicate daily with your home office is to call in your deposit from the day before every morning before 10 a.m. This gives you the opportunity to discuss any problems or answer any questions you many have with your supervisor on a regular basis. Open communication can stop minor problems from exploding into major headaches.
You should have been given a company policy and procedures manual to read and discuss at the time of being hired. This manual should have covered such issues as lunch breaks, paydays, holidays, dress code, emergency procedures, lien and auction laws, collections, etc. If you can improve on your company's current manual, offer suggestions. If your company does not have one, purchase one or several that are available on the market today and work with your supervisor to draft a customized version for your facility.
Philosophy and Mutual Respect
You and your supervisor should have similar philosophies with respect to the management of your facility. During your job interview or during your probationary period, these philosophies should have come up for discussion. You will obviously not agree with your facility owner 100 percent of the time. If that is the case, you should discuss your differences openly and honestly. In order for everyone to do the best job possible for the facility, there has to be mutual respect from both parties. Make an appointment with your supervisor to discuss your concerns. Write them down to help keep you focused. Role play with your spouse or assistant manager so you will feel comfortable discussing those "unpleasant" issues.
Time to Move on?
If you feel you can't discuss issues with your supervisor or owner, that you won't be heard, that you resent being micro-managed (after all, why did they hire you if they're always going to second-guess your decisions?), then speak up and tell your facility owner how you feel. Remember: It's not what you say, but how you say it that is the key.
There are times when nothing you say or do is good enough for your supervisor. You are in a lose/lose situation, and that is not a good place to be. If that is the case, perhaps it's time for you to look for a different company that has goals and philosophies that are similar to your own. You are not doing yourself, your facility or your supervisor any favors by doing a minimal job. Get your resume together and begin looking for a fresh start.
Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management®, a nationwide manager-placement service. Mini-Management also offers full-service and "operations-only" facility management, training manuals, inspections and audits, feasibility studies, consulting and training seminars. For more information, call (800) 646-4648.