Tackling Onsite Manager Behavior

Last Updated: April 5, 2024By

Under California law, if your apartment complex has 16 or more units, it’s a must to have a manager living onsite. Regardless of your unit count, recruiting a top-notch onsite manager is a smart move. It’s a must for you, your property, and your tenants.

Why, you ask? Well, a GREAT onsite manager acts as the eyes and ears of your property, ensuring it’s tip-top in maintenance response, repairs, and liability-free. They’re your “go-to” contact in emergencies like a stuck driveway gate or a flood. Plus, they can boost profitability by attracting and retaining quality tenants, reducing vacancies and turnover, keeping rent flowing in, and enforcing property rules. Not only that, but a GREAT onsite manager also elevates your apartment’s reputation.

Any great onsite manager are all about excellent customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills that keep your tenants as happy as they can be. They foster a sense of community and loyalty among tenants, leading to glowing word-of-mouth and referrals. Training and investing in a GREAT onsite manager are a necessity for success!

A GREAT onsite manager ticks off a few key boxes. They’re upfront and friendly, earning your tenant’s trust by being honest and approachable. Being organized and punctual, they’re reliable when tenants need help. Professionalism and competence make them a respected representative for the property owner or management company. They are not afraid to lay down the rules, making sure tenants stick to the rules and pay up on time.

Notice how I emphasized the word GREAT? That’s because not all on-site managers are created equal. Some might even become a major headache, or worse, a “Karen.” Their behavior could range from exhibiting entitlement and rudeness, such as belittling staff and tenants, to creating a hostile environment on the property. Additionally, their close-mindedness might hinder progress and problem-solving, leading to inefficiencies in property management. Moreover, their disrespectful communication with management could damage professional relationships and impede effective collaboration, potentially jeopardizing overall property management success.

To avoid hiring someone with “Karen” tendencies, ensure your screening process is thorough. Review resumes, conduct background checks, and contact references to identify any signs of entitlement or rudeness. During interviews, focus on candidates’ conflict resolution skills and emotional intelligence, prioritizing those who demonstrate empathy and professionalism. Additionally, assess their alignment with company values such as respect, teamwork, and professionalism. Prioritizing these steps in the hiring process minimizes the risk of selecting candidates with traits resembling a “Karen” and instead hiring your rockstar GREAT on-site manager.

If you’ve hired a “Karen” type onsite manager as your employee, remember that California is an “at-will” state, but that said, always consult with an attorney. (Editor’s Note: In California, the relationship of employer and employee is generally “at will.” This means that, without an employment contract, the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause.) After that, I recommend following due process and promptly finding a more suitable replacement. However, if circumstances prevent immediate termination and you’re stuck with this employee, there are strategies to effectively cope and communicate with them:

  • Keep Your Cool and Stay Professional. Don’t let their antics get under your skin and try not to take it personally. Even if you’re seeing red, try to see things from their perspective and show some empathy – it might help ease tensions.
  • Assert Authority Firmly. When they’re trying to push you around or act like they’re in charge, stand your ground. Remind them of what they’re supposed to be doing and make sure they know you’re not messing around when it comes to enforcing the rules.
  • Hear Them Out. Even if you think they’re way off base, give them a chance to have their say. They might surprise you with a nugget of wisdom or a decent idea. Showing you’re willing to listen can go a long way in smoothing things over.
  • Offer a Helping Hand. If they’re struggling or seem lost, don’t leave them hanging. Give them some guidance, offer up resources, and ensure they receive lots and lots of training. It’ll help them step up their game and hopefully keep the peace around the office.

It’s important to remember that whether your onsite manager exhibits “Karen” like behavior or not, they are still employees and must be treated accordingly under employment laws. This means they are entitled to fair treatment and protection. This includes ensuring they undergo proper onboarding, receive equitable pay, have appropriate vacation, leave entitlements, undergo regular performance evaluations, and follow established termination procedures to uphold their rights and legal obligations, ensuring compliance and fairness throughout their employment journey.

Written by Kari Negri, Chief Executive Officer, SKY Properties, Inc.

SKY Properties are not carbon monoxide experts; and this article is based on their experience and research to provide readers with important information. Kari Negri is the Chief Executive Officer of Sky Property Management and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. Do you have a question for me? Please send your questions and comments to me at Kari@SKYprop.LA.



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