October 1, 1998

7 Min Read
Preparing for the Manager

Manager Turnover
Being Prepared to Hire Your New Facility Manager

By Pamela Alton

In the past, it was not unheard of to have a facility manager for 5, 10, 15 years orlonger, but that is an exception to the rule nowadays. It is not unusual to see managersturn over every 12 to 18 months now and, as an owner, you must be prepared for thechangeover. There are several reasons I am seeing this occur. First of all, as a whole, weare a more transient society then past generations, with extended family located all overthe United States. Managers sometimes change positions to be closer to their grandchildren or aging parents. In the last several years, our industry has seen an explosionin facilities being built and, just as the manager has to compete for tenants, owners arecompeting for managers. If a manager feels they are not being paid well or treated fairly,they can wait six months and almost bet that there will be a new facility within fivemiles of them where they can seek employment. As such, owners will have to become morecompetitive in their compensation, bonus and retirement packages, which I have discussedin past articles.

Once you have taken the steps to finding management candidates, then you must begin thetedious job of interviewing to select the manager that will meet your goals and objectivesand suit your facility location. The best candidate will work to make your site aprofitable one--for both the owner and manager.

Preparing for the Manager

Even if your current manager has been with you for years, at some point you'll likelybe faced with having to interview and hire new staff. Being prepared for the initial andfollow-up interviews will make this an easier step in the hiring process.

Before you begin the interviewing process, you need to define the "jobdescription" and list the criteria that the candidate must meet to be hired for theposition. Review all resumes or job applications and look at criteria such as personality,previous experience, knowledge or expertise. Choose only those candidates you feel wouldsuit your needs. Schedule your interview appointments, making sure you are prepared forthe initial interview.

When the candidate arrives, have them read a written job description, which you shouldprepare beforehand. It might even be good idea to have them sign a job-descriptionacknowledgment form stating that they understand the job duties and are willing and ableto perform them. This will not only make it perfectly clear what the job entails, but italso could cover you from any possible job discrimination suits because you didn't hire aparticular candidate for your facility.

Interviewing the Candidates

During the interview, create a positive atmosphere, ask that all incoming calls andinterruptions be stopped and have your office and desk well organized. Stand and greet thecandidates in a friendly and relaxed manner, control the discussion and have an agendaoutlining the topics you will be discussing. This well help you keep focused should you goastray in the interview. Have a notepad handy, listen carefully and take notes. Askopen-ended questions, such as: In what ways did your previous job prepare for thisposition? Describe an unpleasant work situation in the past and explain how you handledit. What would your previous supervisor tell me about you? How do you feel aboutanniversary due dates vs. first of the month? How would you handle a suspected break-in atyour facility? What kinds of challenges do you feel bring out your potential?

You are interviewing this person to learn about their abilities and personality. Youwant them to open up so ask questions that get them talking: What did you enjoy best aboutyour last job? What did you enjoy least? What will your supervisor tell me are your twoweakest areas? If you were hiring someone for this job, what qualities would you belooking for? If you could change any one thing about the management at your last job, whatwould it be? Why did you leave, or why are you looking to leave your last job?

Questions such as these get the candidate to think and respond with more than a plainyes or no answer. Avoid questions such as: Do you feel you are qualified for thisposition? Would you consider yourself ambitious? Do you consider yourself a gooddecision-maker? Did you get along with your last owner/supervisor? These questions arelikely to illicit only a "yes" or "no," and require no elaboration.

Interviewing No-Nos

Legally, there are certain questions you cannot ask during your initial interviewprocess. Some questions can be asked after a person is hired, but if thesequestions are asked during the interview, they could be turned into a discriminationlawsuit. Remember: It's not what you say, but how you say it. In other words, the way aquestion is worded will determine if it can be viewed as discrimination.

In general, it's best and safest to avoid questions dealing with race, color, religion,marital or family status, or economic status.

Concluding an Interview

End the interview in a friendly manner. If the candidate is not right for the job,tactfully tell him so. Allow him to save face. You might simply state: We appreciate yourinterest in working for our company, but we have a number of applicants. One of the otherapplicants seems a little better qualified. Could we keep your application on file in casesomething else comes up? Thank you again for your interest.

If a decision cannot be made yet, tell them so, but also assure them you will let themknow on a specific date and time, and follow up, preferably by phone.

If the applicant is right for the position, tell him you will check his references todiscuss his employment history. If everything works out, extend him an offer and, assuminghe accepts, discuss a start date and time. When he arrives, give him an employee packageto fill out (more on that later). If you do a background or credit check, make sure youreceive a written authorization to obtain these items.

As examples, take a look at the following "wrong" and "right" ways to word questions and obtain information about candidates:


  1. What is your maiden name?

  2. Are you a U.S. Citizen?

  3. How old are you?


  1. Have you ever used another name?

  2. Can you, after employment, submit verification of your legal right to work in the U.S.?

  3. If hired, can you show proof of age?

Making Your Management Decision in the Event of a Tie

Every now and then we get lucky and have two great candidates and the choice over whichone to hire becomes a big issue. If this happens, look over your notes and ask yourselfthese simple questions: Which candidate would I rather work for? Which candidate wouldn'tI want to go to work for my competition? Which candidate would fit best on my team? Andwhich candidate do I feel I can best delegate the important responsibility of managing myfacility?

Once the Decision Has Been Made

Once you have made your choice of management staff, checked their employment andpersonal references, and discussed your policy and procedures with them, then it's time tohave them fill out the employment package. This package should include: letter ofemployment, apartment lease (if an apartment is included), change-over management form,I-9 forms, W-4 forms and state tax-withholding forms (if applicable in your state). Themanager should sign all required documents before starting work or allowed to move intothe on-site apartment. They should also be given an employee orientation and begin theirin-house training program.


Hiring personnel for your site is not always an easy task. It can be time-consuming andfrustrating at times. People won't show up for interviews, and some that do will betotally unprepared. Sometimes hiring is a gut instinct, sometimes we make the perfectmatch, sometimes we don't. Just remember, if a manager is not working out as hoped, do notwaste time, replace them immediately and begin the process all over again. If you have agood manager, train them well, communicate with them, compensate them fairly, give themattainable goals to challenge their talents and reward them for achieving these goals,then both you and your manager will be in a win-win situation.

Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management, the largest nationwidemanager-placement service. Mini-Management also offers facility management in the WesternUnited States, policy and procedures manuals, sales and marketing training manuals,inspections, audits consulting, new start-up training and training seminars. For moreinformation on the various services offered by Mini-Management, call (800) 646-4648.

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