What a long month this has been. This is Part 1 of my big long harsh exhale.
Stress at my new job: My boss pulled me into his office over a week ago and told me that there are some things he likes about me such as my letter writing and there are some things he doesn't like such as my missing details on leases.
I have been told I am not allowed to make decisions for any dollar amount over $50 because I committed us to addressing and HOA problem that we were going to have to fix. There is no winning against HOA's. I was told to never announce our intentions.
I have come to realize they do not want a property manager, they want an admin assistant. It is a fine line to walk. They want me to be a property manager, but they can't trust anyone to do the job like they would do. It is a bad fence to straddle.
I am used to working in a fast paced environment where when you find a mistake, such as while reading over the lease with a tenant, you correct it--on the fly and have everyone initial the correction. I didn't have a boss editing and reading every item I created. Not one of the hundreds of lease's that I put together ever had one tiny issue in court and I spent a lot of time sending my lease's to our lawyer. The only lease problems I ever had were when we couldn't find one lease. One missing lease, out of hundreds meant I had to back down from sending that tenant to collections for the carpet cleaning and cleaning of the apartment when they moved out. That sucked, but it was an error made in 2012. Scanning in all emails and lease's & security deposit letters became job #1 and someone was hired to manage the scanning and filing.
It is very frustrating to work for someone else after working on my own for so long. I understand their desire for me to slow down and be detail oriented, but my strengths are in people, communication, sales... Managing the office of a small business means moving non stop and not sweating the small stuff that isn't considered an error until you are past the point of correction. Ordering a wrong part and delaying a fix is an error. Missing that a tenant hadn't paid and got a free months stay is an error. Not updating 2015 to 2016 is a correctable acceptable error.
The daily, sometimes hourly notations of my errors or perceived errors is tedious, draining and soul sucking. I am blessed to get to hear at least once a day "I would have done this" or " what I wanted you to say or do was this." Then send me a template letter for every possible issue that will come up and I will just cut & paste the tenant's information into the blanks.
I feel I am/was more of a "well that isn't how I would have done that, but what you have done works for me" type of manager. This is your's now, so run with it and tell me if you need my help.
This endless parent/child role is unbearable. Every day I feel set up for the next failure.
Then we have the ever popular weekly pep talk that we are a team. We are supposed to help each other and work together. I am told each time that they appreciate questions and want me to have the clarity I need to get my job done. This part of the conversation is always stated with a head tilt and sincere facial expression and finished with the ever popular, "Okay? So we are all on the same page?"
We aren't even on the same planet most days. If I ask a question, the reply I get both via nasty emails which have caused me to shut off my phone during lunch in hope of not getting heart burn while trying to choke a meal down.
Every week I receive at least one email or comment stating I am "stupid" for not being able to read their minds or "this isn't rocket science"... I can do this job. I have managed far more properties than they have and had happy owners and mostly happy tenants, except the one's who can't or won't pay.
I didn't search for errors. My goal each day was to do my best for my owners and tenants and my family. When I found an error I fixed it. I didn't attach an emotional charge to it. I didn't turn each error into a sermon, a pseudo teaching moment, or a chance to turn an error into a reflection of who someone is.
After multiple smack down sessions two weeks ago, my boss was leaving my office and in a very condescending tone asked me if I knew how to find the paint colors for the interior of a house that needed to be made ready for a new tenant. I started to say, "yes I do, but what is your way?" However I had sat through one too many you are stupid and I know everything sermons that week so I just smile and said, "of course." He smiled and left. I exhaled and got back to work on a myriad of other items. This was my big mistake for that day. I should have said no. But there was a chance that stating that would have lead into the how can you be a property manager and not know how to figure out a paint color. There isn't a clear winning option most days.
I am a property manager and I know you can remove a light switch cover or outlet cover and chip off a piece of the previously painted drywall and take that to get it color matched. When that doesn't work, I have had to get the whole damn wall repainted in close match color. It is unbelievable how many shades of shitty dirty apartment white the hard ware store can make and then you have to decide if you get a paint that can be washed so that the grime and buggers just slide down the wall when the tenants move out or if you go with a flat you will have to repaint between each tenant paint.
I am still learning how this company files things, how they store important information and where to look.
I did a quick check and couldn't find the information so I told our maintenance man to color match it at the hardware store if he couldn't find a can in the property. A week later, I got my ass chewed not once, but twice by Boss 1 and Boss 2. It is clear to them that I do not understand the system. All of the information I needed could have been attained by answering "no" to the question that previous week. Boss 1 would have turned to me and told me to look through the Move-In Sheet from the previous tenants where one of the past 6 property managers had noted the information or you can dig and search through the rehab files for a contractor agreement which most of the time holds the Scope of Work information that has the interior and exterior paint colors. Now but not using that information, I have again fucked up and have caused much chaos by adding random paint to the walls when it was all there for me to find.
My job feels a lot like my last marriage. I just try to stay off the radar and not rock the boat. Yes sir, thank you sir. I truly appreciate the bread crumbs of happiness you fling at me. Thank you for telling me I am a good letter writer and in the same breath telling me that you have made changes to reflect how you would say it. Please for the love of God, then just write the letter for me. Send me to mind reading school, get me a magic 8 ball, perform some voodoo ritual and attach the spirit of some long dead perfect property manager to me via a lock of his nose hair.
Walking into work is like entering some weird alternate universe. Down a side hallway is my old office where I did a really great job managing 200 properties and 80 different owners and new tenants, old tenants and prospective tenants. I made mistakes, but I fixed each mistake quickly and learned from the hard ones. Only once did I pay an owner for a mistake I made. I didn't move fast enough on an eviction and that owner asked me to pay them the rent that they had not received because I let the tenant live in their apartment for free. I wrote the check, gritted my teeth and never let people live for free again.
Opening the door to my new job, I am so micro managed that I can't manage a mere 80 properties and two owners.
Opening the door to my new job, I am spoken to like I am an idiot. Every correction is snarky and condescending. Please ask questions, we are a team and then the response to my question is "do you even read what you are writing?" or "do I really need to spell this out for you?" "Wow, the answers are right there, buried four folders down in a contractor bid." Or my favorite, "did you check in the Property Managers Manual?"
At the end of the conversation two weeks ago Boss 2 told me that he hoped things got better because this wasn't going to work for either of us if it continued the way it has been going.
WTF & Holy Shit. I am 43 and have never been fired or laid off. I left the office and went back to work for the few remaining minutes that day and then got in my car and cried. I have never failed to get great reviews and promotions and raises. I wonder if my current boss's think my last company failed because of me? My part of the company was smooth and fine tuned after three years. The systems and processes I put in place were the lesson's learned from trial and error.
Because this experience is so contrary to anything I have ever been through, I am trying to figure out the lesson. I am not enjoying the bitter taste of failure.
I am going to step away from the computer and go for a walk to shake this off.