Can company culture be changed?

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Today I had the privilege of meeting with some people from another Property Management company. This meeting was a reunion of sorts because the lady I met with used to work for Maryland Management several years ago. Today I got the opportunity to learn first hand about their challenges. I didn’t go there as a consultant or anything…nothing that fancy (or expensive) but it was just a meeting of the minds; an exchange of ideas. I always like learning about how others deal with some of the same issues we do.

Our ideas are so diverse.

This is one of the things I love about the multifamily industry. At the end of the day our goals as property management companies are the same aren’t they? Maximize our NOI, rent our apartments for a fair market rent and keep our residents as happy as possible. It’s amazing to me the different paths companies take to get there. That was no more evident than in my visit today.

Thanks to ensignbeedrill from Flickr

What does company culture really mean?

By definition company culture is a set of ideas or beliefs for an organization. What struck me as funny about my visit today was that our portfolio sizes were similar, our accounting software was the same but we weren’t even in the same ballpark with how we approached the challenge of renting apartments. They were doing tons of things with outside owners that we would never imagine doing but they had no vacancy report to view. (It was tabulated weekly using Excel…ugh) They weren’t tracking leads effectively and hadn’t the real priority level to do so. Does this mean that I think they are doing things wrong? I’ll let you judge but it goes to show what kind of effect company culture can have on an organization doesn’t it?

What’s important to one company might not be important to another.

The funny thing about me mocking their lack of a vacancy report is that their culture says one probably isn’t necessary. It isn’t high on their list of important things to deal with. If it was, then they would have one. Perhaps they base a property’s performance on the final NOI numbers. Whether you feel that attitude is right or not is based on your beliefs and your values from what YOUR company thinks is important.

Company culture can determine your priority levels.

If you’re tasked with breaking down a to do list into what you can or cannot do, aren’t you basing a large portion of that list on what your company culture will allow? I like to think so. Do you think this organization would be much more inclined to implement a system to help with outside owners first and THEN address their lead attribution? I don’t know but it sure does make me wonder. Actually that’s a cop out…yes I do. What do you think?

Can you change a company’s culture?

Trying sure does have its share of risks. Since a culture starts from the top and works its way down, it would be hard to change it on your own. You’d need help from others, those who share your viewpoints. It will take time. The lady I met with today, she’s trying to do just that. I wish her the best of luck. Sometimes when people have been with a company for a long time (or created it a long time ago) they get complacent OR worse still, rigid in their beliefs. It often takes new blood to rattle the hornet’s nest.

What do you think? What are your experiences? Do you think she’s wasting her time and she just needs to move on or do you believe that such a change is possible? Let’s get the conversation started down in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

One thing that her and I agreed with today was that lunch was delicious. I appreciate her picking up the tab…made it even tastier.

Thanks to Flickr for the photos.

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