ETHICS AND YOUR BEST BEHAVIOUR
THEY SAY a person will show their true character when they are pushed into a corner or knocked down. Professionals will brush themselves off, smile and try their approach from a different angle. The same rings true of a professional property manager with the ups and downs of dealing with different people and situations throughout the day. Let’s face it – some days are more challenging than others. In my 20+ years in property management, I don’t remember ever having two days the same.
I remember at an early age my grandfather taught me that we spend our lifetime building our name. He warned that it could take seconds to overturn what we have spent a lifetime building by doing something of lower character.
Anyone who knows me would agree that I have applied my grandfather’s teachings to my everyday life by doing the right thing each and every day. There were times when I could have cut a corner on a project, or not followed up on doing something, or even taken an offered kickback from a trade. Each day brings different challenges but it’s easy to hold your head high when you know that you have approached each day by doing what’s right.
The position of a property manager is a balancing act that requires the anticipation and handling of all the logistical issues of a building, without losing site of the responsibilities to the residents, board of directors and staff. Let’s not forget the trades who we work with – you know the ones who help us do the impossible all within budget. Our days are filled with challenges, but we still need to complete them with integrity and professionalism.
Integrity is the concept of consistency of actions, values, principles and morals. It is a personal choice, of uncompromising commitment to moral and ethical values and principles. It is the honesty and truthfulness of one’s actions. Integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” derived from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character.
Professionalism is the act of being reliable, and keeping your promises. If circumstances arise that prevent you from delivering on your promises, you manage expectations up front, and do your best to make the situation right.Professionalism means holding yourself accountable for your thoughts, words, and actions, especially when you’ve made a mistake. Genuine professionals show respect for the people around them, no matter what their role or situation.
The pressures associated with the hectic days of a property manager make losing sight of integrity and professionalism far too easy. But when faced with a difficult situation, it is always easier in the end to simply “do the right thing.” By doing it right, and to the best of your ability, you won’t find yourself having to defend your actions or decisions.
With the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services in Ontario licensing property managers at some point soon, property managers will be forced to become more accountable for their actions. Currently, enforcement is limited in our industry, relying mostly on us to self-govern, but includes the governing body of ACMO, corporation auditors, lawyers, boards of directors and company executives. The ACMO Ethics Committee can review a complaint, but the process is limited to a property manager with a current RCM or one that works for a company which is ACMO 2000 certified. Even when a manager is disciplined through the Ethics process, he or she cannot be prevented from continuing to work in our industry for a different condominium or company. By licensing property managers, we will hopefully remove some of the bad apples, and better be able to hold managers accountable.
Until that time, we all need to be the keepers of our profession. As trusted property managers, we must uphold the values and responsibilities entrusted in us by those who rely on us to deliver the services we are paid to do.
Steven Hill, RCM is president of Whitehill Residential. He is a member of ACMO’s Ethics Committee