The wheel turns, and we find ourselves on the cusp of a new year. During this season, people tend to reflect on their journey and consider relations with others. They are more inclined to express good will toward fellow creatures, to be charitable and forthcoming.
This is well and good, though it shouldn’t require a holiday to rouse these sentiments, especially for those in business. If you own or supervise a self-storage operation, the regular expression of appreciation is part of your formal duty. Am I referring to interaction with customers? Not in this instance. I’m talking about your staff.
Good employees are hard to find and, in a competitive market, even harder to keep. For an industry like self-storage in which service is intimately connected to profitability, the role of manager and support staff is vital. Companies expend a great deal of time and effort in locating promising hires, but to what extent are they willing to ensure personnel’s ongoing happiness? What is the sound of one hand slamming the door on the way out? I’ll give you a hint: It’s loud.
Think about real estate. Sometimes, it’s a buyer’s market. Other times, the ball is in the seller’s court. The employer/employee relationship is similar in that one party often wields the power. In an ideal world, there would be parity, but this isn’t always so. If the job market is tight, staff may work harder to retain favor. If jobs are plentiful or an employee especially gifted, it’s the company that must bear the brunt of the effort.
Do you recognize the value of your human resources? Are you the sort of boss who appreciates employees and seeks to retain them, or do you suffer from a “my way or the highway” attitude? Some storage operators underestimate the importance and complexity of site management. They fail to pay enough to attract quality managers or assume they can do more with less. But as a famous Zen maxim tells us, “The tighter you squeeze the less you have.”
Another proverb says, “It’s better to struggle with a sick jackass than carry the wood by yourself.” But is this true? Is a substandard employee better than none at all? Consult your bottom line, and then answer that question. If you’re uncertain how to judge, this issue will give you pointers on evaluating employees’ performance. If you’re enlightened, these pages also provide ideas for incentives, bonuses and benefits.
The art of hiring, training and hanging on to quality people is one of finesse and skill, and it may change from market to market and over time. So in the words of Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” In the case of self-storage, that would be a talented, dependable team of personable, sales-oriented individuals who are happy to show up for work and do their best to benefit of the entire operation.
Your task as supervisor is to do what you can to elevate employees’ level of job satisfaction. Sometimes, you can sit quietly and do nothing, and grass grows by itself. Sometimes, you must chop wood and carry water. In either case, remember: No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place. When you land a good hire, be grateful for that precious resource, and be the master of your own profitable path.
Teri L. Lanza