3 Skills You Need to Be an Effective Manager in the Affordable Housing Industry

The micromanager. The workaholic. The narcissist. Chances are you’ve encountered at least one of these bad boss types in your career, so it might not come as a surprise to hear that organizations fail to hire the right candidate for a managerial position 82 percent of the time. On top of that, over the last few years, managers have been put through the wringer—they’ve had to endure a pandemic, find solutions to retain and attract talent during the Great Resignation, and keep employees engaged in the wake of ‘quiet quitting.’ So, what’s the secret sauce to beating the odds and hiring—or becoming—a successful manager? HAI Group’s Staci Canny asked Michael Teape, owner and lead training consultant of Teape Training International, for advice. 

Staci Canny: Michael, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Let’s dive right into the first skill you encourage managers to hone: knowing when to manage versus lead. Can you tell us how these skills differ? Michael Teape_Blog Headshot

Michael Teape: Sure. Leadership skills help employees understand the ‘why’ of what they’re doing, whereas management skills guide employees on how to get the work done.

SC: So, what would be some examples of this?

MT: Say you’re setting the direction for where the business is headed, or a major change is going to happen—these are times for your leadership skills to take center stage and motivate staff. Clearly communicate the purpose of why you’re doing this and make the connection to how this relates to their responsibilities. You’ll also want to ramp up your usage of storytelling and inspirational conversations. 

If a department needs to improve its performance, or maybe an employee is struggling in their role, these would be times to deploy managerial skills. In these situations, employees need to have structured policies and procedures as well as direct feedback/coaching to guide them toward achieving the desired outcome. 

SC: In recent years, organizations have been dealing with increased employee turnover. The multifamily property management industry itself is at 33 percent—11 percent higher than the national average. What advice can you share with managers for maintaining strong managerial and leadership skills when they’re struggling with retention?

MT: The first thing to note is that not all exits are bad—there should be some attrition to keep an organization growing and healthy. However, if your leadership team feels that the turnover rate is getting too high, there are some steps you can take to make an impact. When attempting to reduce attrition, prioritize relationships first and tasks second. That means you have to go beyond managing your team’s day-to-day operations and start building a connection with individual members. 

I recommend scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with your staff, where you ask three simple questions: how are you doing, how are you winning, and what support do you need? These sessions provide a fast track to helping your employees feel supported and connected to you, while positively influencing retention at the same time.

SC: The second fundamental area of management that you promote is the ability to provide constructive feedback. Research continues to show us that employees strongly value feedback. In fact, a recent study from Gallup found that employees are four times more likely to be engaged if they received meaningful feedback in the past week. So, how can a manager ensure that the feedback they’re providing is actually meaningful?   

MT: Getting a conversation right when providing feedback is critical, and I recommend following a three-step process to do so. The first step is deciding what piece of feedback will have the most impact in helping improve the employee’s performance. Second, choose a feedback model, and practice using that framework until you’re comfortable with your delivery. And lastly, always ask the employee to think about what they can do next time to improve their behavior. 

One thing to remember is to never lead the conversation by telling an employee what they should do. This stops an employee’s ability to critically think about what they should do and therefore decreases the amount of ownership they have to improve.

SC: The workforce landscape has changed drastically over the past few years, with so many interactions going digital. What are some tips for managers to keep in mind if they have to give feedback in a virtual setting?

MT: The same rules, advice, and preparation apply in a virtual feedback session, but with some extra pointers. The video camera must be on for both parties, and as a manager, you should position your camera so your employee can see your hand gestures and body language. You’ll also need to have more consistent check-ins to help you understand how the employee is receiving the feedback, because it is difficult to read body language virtually.

SC: The third skill that you recommend managers develop is the art of delegation. In theory, the concept sounds like it can make a manager’s life so much easier: assign responsibilities to your team, and you’ll free up your time to do other tasks. However, this is an area where managers of all experience levels often struggle with. Why is this the case?  

MT: Well, people have a natural tendency to resist letting go of work. Some of the most common reasons for resisting delegation that I hear from clients are that it will take longer to explain the project to their employee than to do it themselves, the work won’t be done to their standard, their team already has too much to do, or they are simply just comfortable doing that task on their own.

SC: So, for those managers who are struggling to let go, what are some easy steps to initiate delegating that will help them see the benefits?

MT: A great first step is to create a spreadsheet that lists all of your team members and the tasks that can be delegated. Then, identify which team members are great at each task, need improvement, or have not yet performed those tasks. Remember, you do not want to delegate every task to your star performers. Instead, ask your star performers to coach other team members to learn how to complete specific tasks. And, don’t forget to make yourself available throughout the time that a delegated task is being completed so that you can provide leadership or managerial skills as needed to help the employee reach a positive outcome. 

SC: Thank you, Michael. This is excellent information that our audience will find to be very beneficial. 


To learn more about becoming an effective manager, enroll in Michael Teape’s new course, Fundamentals of Management, now available through HAI Group Online Training. 
This two-hour course dives into the expectations set on a manager and how best to engage, enable, and empower your employees. You’ll also hear from a panel of affordable housing professionals as they discuss how they overcame various challenges in their managerial roles.

Watch a clip below for sneak peak of the panel discussion included in the Fundamentals of Management course. 


Includes copyrighted material from a company under the HAI Group family, with its permission. This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice, and shall not be relied on as such. We strongly recommend consulting with legal counsel or an appropriate subject matter expert.

Leave a Comment