Listening, flexibility and kindness – Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic by the Institute or Real Estate Management

July 27, 2020

Nancy San Pedro, CPM®, with Equity Residential in Los Angeles, California®
Remain flexible, learn to pivot

My team has an incredible capacity to pivot and shift to accommodate a wider range of duties and responsibilities than I ever thought possible.  We’ve flourished by being flexible, and having an open mind as to our job duties.  Now, more than ever, having a retail tenant means having a long term partnership, and both sides need to figure out how to work together, beyond the confines of the lease.  In many ways, the property management role is shifting to that of a lender, a construction partner, and an advocate.

The innovation that has emerged from this pandemic is spectacular.  We’re smarter and more forward-thinking in new construction and existing development projects.  I like the old adage, “When you have a big problem, throw out everything you know, start over and ask stupid questions.”  A willingness to revisit “how you’ve always done things” has been an integral part of innovating.

Denna Griffis, CPM®, ARM®, with RPM Group in Little Rock, Arkansas
We’re better together

During this uncharted territory I’ve learned to be flexible, think outside the box, adapt and compromise on a daily basis. All the education and industry experience has never been put more to the test than going through this pandemic. It’s taught us the strength we have as professionals and as an industry. I’m proud to be a part of the industry and a part of IREM. IREM has stayed on top of the ever-changing information, and adapted very quickly to accommodate members remotely.

Take the patience and flexibility learned during these trying times and keep using them in the future. If anything, this has taught us the importance of family. Your work family, IREM family, and your loved ones. We’re all better together.

Melissa Kreutner, CPM®, with Endeavor Real Estate Group in Austin, Texas
Learn to listen

The past few months have required engaged learning, rapid mobilization, and changes to our operating policies. Now, more than ever, property managers and their teams are both desperately needed and able to show their worth. From reading engineering studies on how HVAC air flow may contribute to the distribution of viruses, challenges from unoccupied buildings, rapid readiness response in areas of signage, cleaning protocols, tenant communication plans, and remote management of staff, that wide array of talents specific to our industry has been on display.

The learning curve has been steep with regards to the pandemic and the social distancing, disinfection, and building systems response has stretched all of us.

If I could pinpoint one area of learning that has been most valuable, it’s been the value of listening to the wide array of voices within our industry. The brainstorming, knowledge, and thoughtful information-sharing among our fellow IREM members, my company’s leadership team, and property teams I work with have been critical to managing through these issues and responding appropriately. It’s been heartening to watch this unified effort.

I hope we will now apply that same community-based willingness to learn from each other to seek understanding and empathy in light of recent events. And choose to listen.

Kaci Hancock, CPM®, ACoM, with REIS Associates in Houston, Texas
Choose kind

Consistent communication is key, even now more than ever. Updating your tenants, clients and customers frequently on operational and safety issues provides a sense of comfort in knowing your company has their best interest at the forefront. Don’t forget to sprinkle a little joy into every conversation.

Between the stress of Covid-19 and recent civil unrest, compassion is key. Be mindful of your audience when speaking on certain subjects, as we’re all entitled to our own opinions.  Remember, when given the option of being right or kind, choose kind.

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