People are people, the old saying goes. That means everyone brings his own personal baggage with him to work. People make poor choices, act rashly and defend their own comfort zones. People have agendas all their own that often have nothing to do with the work agenda that you as a self-storage owner are promoting.
Sometimes the selfish and petty things people do are no surprise. If you let them, some employees repeat behaviors that have been seen many times before, such as infighting, jealousy, jockeying for position and defending turf. Other times, the selfish and petty behavior is quite a surprise. In contrast, every workplace also has people who perform well, take care of themselves, are supportive of others on the team when needed, and keep below the radar.
Good self-storage owners try hard to motivate and guide their people to meet agreed-upon goals. They put procedures, protocols and guidelines in place to keep things fair and organized. They give feedback, motivation and direction. But at the end of the day, the best owners realize there is no good way to manage people. But since managing people is the key to any business success, you have to try anyway.
There are many books on people management, and you may have practiced all the different styles. If you boil down all the great people-management advice as much as you can, there are really only two things to do. One is to make sure your staff members are receiving ongoing training, feedback, correction and motivation for all their work-related behaviors. The other is to leave your people alone and let them work. The trick is to know when to do which with each person.
Try to create models of best performance and practices for employees to pursue, learn and copy. You can create goals, requirements and performance thresholds to use as measurement tools. Be fair and consistent in enforcing performance requirements and work rules, and be honest with employees in your assessment of business conditions, communication of company policies and feelings about their performance.
Know Your People
Try to get to know each of your staff members so you can find the right way to approach, motivate and correct them. Spend a little time with each of them and encourage employees to spend time getting to know one another. Spending time together helps solidify teamwork, clarify any issues, and make sure you and your staff are accountable to each other.
Stop relying on e-mail and memos! Have personal conversations with the people in your group. Allow your people to be honest with you. Spend a little personal time with each person every month if you can. Learn to be a good listener. Youll learn a lot about how to deal with your people if you hear what they say.
Leave Well Enough Alone
Sometimes self-storage owners feel their staff will perform better and produce more than they do, but if employees have found a comfortable and satisfactory balance, its best not to disturb that. Resist the temptation to over manage them.
There are times when your managers just need to be left alone to do their jobs. Some days, youll work hard to mold peoples behavior and performance, when what they really needed was to be left alone to do their jobs. Other days, youll leave them alone, when what they really needed was to be working with someone. Try to ask yourself a couple questions each day: Who needs time from me today? Who needs to be left alone?
If you allow yourself to admit that theres no good way to manage people, you can do your self-storage business a lot of good by trying to be a better owner every day. Work on best practices, get to know your people, communicate personally and, above all, leave well enough alone. If you try too hard to manage people or go too far in attempting to manage behavior, youll end up throwing your hands up in the air and declaring, "There is no good way to manage people!"
Tron Jordheim is the chief marketing officer of StorageMart, a self-storage company with facilities in Canada and the United States. He has helped lead the company to double-digit revenue growth for the last four years by embracing digital marketing and call-center support. With 40-plus years of experience in sales, marketing and training, he continues to be sought after as a public speaker, sales trainer and consultant. For more information, visit www.storage-mart.com/blog/author/tron-jordheim .