EPMEPM: First Person

Personal Safety: It’s OK to walk away

WHEN IT COMES to managing teams in property management, one of the most vital aspects is remembering to keep them safe both in the office and on the road. Heidi Walkinshaw suggests six ways to minimise the inevitable risks.

As I prepare training programs and consult with teams, one topic that is regularly raised is that of the safety of the team members I work with while they are progressing through their daily routine.

I remember my introduction to the industry in what seems a lifetime ago. Back then I was less concerned about my safety in an effort to ensure that we achieved the best result for the client and the business. I can’t help but wonder, as I remember those times of visiting tenants after dark to collect rent or climbing through windows to access properties, how lucky I was that I was never hurt. Then I wonder how many property managers, even now, still put themselves in a position of vulnerability on a regular basis.

I remember visiting tenants after dark to collect rent, or climbing through windows to access properties.

Considering that they can be, in some cases, dealing with volatile personalities and in an environment where people are in a constant state of hyper-awareness, it is important to ensure that they are careful of their own safety and aware of the processes that we have in place to assist them.

So how can we minimise the risk to our teams?

Are your team aware of procedures and responsibilities around their safety while on site or in the office? Do you have policies for their safety? Some offices have a system of being able to call in with a red key, or a panic button under the desk in cases where there may be a threat.

Do your team know to trust their instincts, and if they are presented with a situation in which they do not feel safe do they know how to get out? Is it in your procedure to report any violence or threats to police and take those threats seriously?

In cases where the situation may be challenging, consider sending two people to an inspection especially if there have been previous incidents. It is also highly recommended that there is a system in place to note any prior situations, perhaps in your trust accounting software, to advise future property managers.

Make it a requirement for all team members to diarise all inspections so that you are aware of where they are at all times. More importantly, if a team member is conducting their inspections on their way home, they must check in after the inspection to advise that they have left and are okay.

Do your team regularly undergo training on conflict resolution? Do they know how to keep a clear head and get out of threatening situations? Regular training will equip them with the tools to identify any potential threats and move themselves out of a position in which they may be vulnerable.

There are an increasing number of apps in the marketplace available to install on your phones that provide back to base monitoring, check-ins and even panic buttons. This one is an essential if you have your people out on the road and in this age of technology should be a non-negotiable item.

The security of your people should be paramount when it comes to management of your offices. Communicate to them that they must take the utmost care and personal responsibility in their decisions around their safety.

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Heidi Walkinshaw

Heidi Walkinshaw has been immersed in property management for over 14 years, dealing in all aspects from leasing, property management, business development and team management. For more info visit realplus.com.au.