Policy v. Procedure 

We always get questions about our “Policy and Procedure Manuals”. It is time to clarify the difference between policy and procedure. Let’s talk about this from a 30,000 foot view point. Imagine trying to articulate… in a step by step fashion, everything you do in a day. It’s a bit overwhelming to think about writing procedures for every task you have to accomplish in the first 30 minutes of your day; imagine all 8, 10 or 12 hours. A big attraction for many people in the property management industry is the adventure of a new day-no two days are ever alike. Property management professionals encounter unique situations every day. It is the mission of PMManuals.com to encourage companies to get away from prescribing best practices and to allow excellent methods emerge, organically.

We have worked diligently to scrub our manuals of procedural dialogue for several reasons. It has been proven that society, generally speaking, is phasing out of the industrial revolution. People are moving toward concepts of scientific management and trending to a knowledge revolution that does not isolate people to a job description or profile. Enormously successful property management companies seek to hire employees that don’t need to be “taught” how to do a function or task, this new work force simply needs to know why a task needs to be accomplished, and informed of the boundaries in which they must perform. The “how” component is something in which people will naturally find and continually improve, IF there is not a prescribed method. Finally, it is the “procedure part” that is constantly changing and makes written dialogue become obsolete.

The best illustration is learning how to play any team sport. First, you must know the rules of the game, what the lines on the ground or floor represent (boundaries); then, what determines the measurement of success (meaning how we score). From this point forward, we let players practice and refine, offering coaching along the way. Some of the best professional athletes do not have the “perfect form” for their sport, yet find enormous success nonetheless. By making everyone on your team dribble, shoot, and move in the same way, we do not allow for uncommon star performers to excel.

When it comes to policy and procedure, we say scrap the procedure and move to a system that is open for coaches to naturally help property management professionals perfect their performance through minor tweaking, and allow team members to openly play to their natural strengths. This ideology is predicated on the premise that you are hiring personnel that are “thinkers” and that you have an environment and a culture that empowers people to explore, grow, and even fail sometimes.

We do realize that there are some instances in our environment where we need to have a prescribed way of doing a task. We encourage our property management clients to isolate those things which tend to be deadline driven, or reside in a world where point and click technology rules. In support of these instances, we have produced “just in time” type training for our property management clients … that lives in an electronic environment and allows instant access when needed. For example, you may have a specific way a rent check must be entered in your property management accounting process. Another case could be how to electronically move a resident out. We produce an interactive recorded screen capture to show this “procedure” in a real environment, rather than have your employees have to muddle through a written procedure document. This has proven to be far more effective in affecting the behavior that we desire.

To summarize, the policy is the “why” we perform, and the procedure is the “how” we take action. “Why” always trumps “how”, and unless we are filling our teams with non-thinking, unintelligent drones there is no good reason to “micro-manage” our workforce. Let’s spend our time celebrating our success and steer clear of trying to manufacture it.