Managing Employee Needs for Improved Business Operations
As the regional director of operations at Castle Group, Ryan Johnson understands the relationship between employee motivation and customer satisfaction. He prioritizes the well-being of his team members so they can deliver their best.
Ryan Johnson is the guest in this episode of the Process Breakdown Podcast. He speaks with host Chad Franzen about the importance of managing employee needs for improved business operations.
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- Chad Franzen mentions some of the past guests who have been on the show, including David Allen of Getting Things Done and Michael Gerber of the E-Myth.
- Chad Franzen introduces SweetProcess, a workflow tool that helps businesses streamline their operations even in life-or-death situations.
- SweetProcess offers a 14-day free trial without a credit card.
[1:20] Chad Franzen introduces the guest, Ryan Johnson.
[1:44] Ryan summarizes Castle Group’s mission.
- Castle Group is a property management company that specializes in association management of high-end homeowner associations, condominiums, and co-ops in Florida and, most recently, Texas.
[2:03] What’s involved in Ryan’s day-to-day role as regional director of operations?
- Ryan oversees several accounts in the Palm Beach County area in Florida, from Boca Raton to West Palm Beach.
- In addition to managing accounts with the various boards of directors, Ryan trains, motivates, and inspires his team members to deliver high performance.
[2:40] Ryan talks about how he motivates his team to perform at their very best.
- It’s essential to know your team members individually and understand the things that are important to them.
- Offer team members things that they value. It could be time-off, additional training, opportunities to increase their income, etc.
- Sometimes people just want to feel important. You can do that by acknowledging their efforts and celebrating their success.
[3:38] How important is having processes in Ryan’s day-to-day operations?
- When dealing with a large audience, you need a strict process to manage your time, document your activities, and leverage technology.
- Processes help you to prioritize your important tasks and eliminate redundancy.
[4:24] Ryan explains how he improves the processes at Castle Group for better operations.
- Ryan applies process improvement methods such as lean and Six Sigma to identify the problem, analyze it, make the improvement, and test it for efficiency.
- He implements measures to ensure that the change implemented is sustainable.
[5:09] What’s the impact of burnout on managers in discharging their duties effectively?
- The unrest of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s tolerance levels, making them agitated and dissatisfied with a lot of things.
- Managers are questioning the value propositions of their jobs. The pandemic reiterated that life is short, so they want to do things that are most fulfilling to them.
[6:40] Ryan shares insights into how to mitigate or resolve burnout in his team.
- It goes back to adopting an individual approach in dealing with team members.
- Pay attention to what each individual needs to be more comfortable and efficient in their job and make provisions for those things.
[8:01] How do you resolve employees’ dissatisfaction or complaints about their jobs?
- Most people complain because they care, so you need to listen to what they are saying.
- When you view employee complaints as an opportunity to improve, you can handle the situation better.
[9:56] Ryan reiterates the need to handle employee behaviors with tact and grace.
- Handling employee issues with tact helps them to see what they have done wrong in the situation.
- It also helps the organization to create better systems of engagement and processes to avoid such issues from happening again.
[10:45] How can people find out more about Castle Group?
- You can visit the Castle Group website and LinkedIn page to learn more about the organization’s services.
About Ryan Johnson
Ryan Johnson is the regional director of operations with Castle Group, a property management organization for Palm Beach County that specializes in luxury high-rise condominiums, large-scale, self-managed, and developing communities.
An expert in property management, Ryan has held various leadership roles, including property manager, senior property manager, district manager, and regional director in professional property management firms. Before venturing into property management, he worked in urban, oceanfront, and destination hotels and resorts for iconic hotel and resort brands.
Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from George Washington University and a master’s degree from the top-ranked Executive Education Program at Florida Atlantic University.
Transcript of the interview
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now, let’s get started with the show.
Chad Franzen: Chad Franzen here, co-host of the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your staff everything they need to be successful at their job. Past guests include David Allen of Getting Things Done, and Michael Gerber of the E-Myth and many more. This episode is brought to you by SweetProcess. Have you had team members ask you the same questions over and over again, and this is the 10th time you’ve spent explaining it? There’s a better way and a solution, SweetProcess is a software that makes it drop-dead easy to train and onboard new staff and save time with existing staff. Not only do universities, banks, hospitals, and software companies use them, but first responder government agencies use them in life or death situations to run their operations. Use SweetProcess to document all the repetitive tests that eat up your precious time so you can focus on growing your team and empowering them to do their best work. Sign up for a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Go to sweetprocess.com. That’s Sweet like candy, S-W-E-E-T Process.com.
Chad Franzen: Ryan Johnson is regional director of operations with Castle Group Management. Previously, he has held roles as property manager, senior property manager, district manager, and regional director in professional property management firms. Prior to that, he held a number of progressive roles in hotels and resorts. Ryan, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?
Ryan Johnson: I’m well, Chad, thank you for having me.
Chad Franzen: Hey. Yeah. So tell me a little bit more about what management does.
Ryan Johnson: Sure. We specialize in association management of high end homeowner associations, condominium, co-ops throughout the state of Florida and recently opened operations in Texas as well.
Chad Franzen: What is involved in your day to day role as regional director of operations?
Ryan Johnson: Sure. I have oversight of a portfolio of accounts in the Palm Beach County area in Florida, running basically from Boca Raton up to West Palm Beach. I have a number of [inaudible 00:02:18] my umbrella in different associations, homeowners associations, condominiums, co-ops. And I’m responsible for managing the accounts with the various boards of directors, motivating, training, inspiring the teams to perform at their very best.
Chad Franzen: What are some examples of ways that you do that, to motivate and inspire the team to perform at their very best?
Ryan Johnson: Well, I think you have to get to know them, you have to get to know them as individuals, understand important to them. What do they value? A lot of folks, if they have families, their families are going to be their priority, the children, their significant others. And then you have some folks that either have not started to develop a family or maybe on the twilights and they like to travel. So you can get to know people as individuals and you offer things that they would value. Sometimes that’s time off. Sometimes that’s additional training. Sometimes it’s opportunities to increase their income. And then sometimes people just want to feel important. And how do you make them feel important? Celebrating their successes, making a big deal out of even small successes so that they’re motivated to go get the next one.
Chad Franzen: How important is process in your day to day operation
Ryan Johnson: Absolutely essential. For me directly, when you have all of these audiences, you have to follow a strict process in managing your time, budgeting your time, documenting things that have happened. Taking looks at the existing process to find that the Muda, the waste, and eliminate those steps that don’t add value to the process, whether that be a cleaning process that’s onsite, or our overall global processes for getting things done and leveraging technology and those sorts of things.
Chad Franzen: When you notice things like that, what do you do to improve your process?
Ryan Johnson: Well, I apply some of the Lean and Six Sigma tactics that define what the problem is, measure it, analyze the process as it exists. You make the improvement and test it. Test to make sure that the intended outcome of the change matches the effect of the change. And then have a control period after the fact to make sure that change is sustainable and the process, as it’s been revised, is effective.
Chad Franzen: You said you had a number of managers that you worked with. Would you say that burnout is a risk or something that is possible in that role?
Ryan Johnson: It really is. And more so now than ever. Between some of the political and societal unrest, two and a half years of pandemic that took us all by a storm, people have just become… just lack tolerance really. And they’re nasty. And they expect more, they want to pay less. There’s a lot of complaining about things that many people would have just let go in the past. People are learning how to interact with each other in person again. You and I are here remotely, and the world has been remote for the last two years. And now that we’re starting to put together people in the same place, it seems like they’re relearning the social graces that were taught to us as kids that people have forgotten because they’ve been isolated.
Ryan Johnson: So the managers, much like every industry, they’re really taking a hard look at the value proposition of the employment. Is this what I want to do? Do I want to spend more time with my family? Do I want to go and pursue my dreams to do Broadway? Or whatever it was that they set aside because they had to make an income. People realized that life is short, that people have become intolerant and they’re going to do what makes them happy versus what makes them income.
Chad Franzen: And how do you go about maybe managing or mitigating that burnout factor?
Ryan Johnson: Yeah. Well, again, it goes back to the individual people. I have a young, very ambitious manager and she has not yet started her family and she’s driven by opportunities to learn stuff. "Give me projects, give me tools. How do we use this technology?" And to whatever extent that I can feed her those things, I do. And then I have some people that, "You know what? Can you get me down to 50 hours a week so I could see my son’s ball game?" Absolutely. What do we need to eliminate, take off your plate so that you can do those things? Because the last thing that we need is that person gets tired of working the 60, 70 hour weeks and they just resign and go watch that ball game. And now we’re out a trained, talented, efficient manager because we failed to adjust to what was important to them.
Chad Franzen: When you say that people maybe are prone to be complaining more, or be more nasty or whatever, and they come to you and they vent or whatever, how do you handle that? You have to take the serve the customer attitude, but also keep these peoples’ spirits high and say, "I got your back as well." How do you walk that bridge?
Ryan Johnson: Sure. Well, I mean, most folks, when they’re complaining, they’re complaining because they care. And it’s important in our line of work, a service based industry, that we not lose sight of that. They’re complaining because they care and they want something to be better and they’re giving us the opportunity to make their lives better. And I remind our teams to approach it like that. It’s not a complaint, it’s an opportunity to improve. There are some times where people are just unreasonable. And that becomes a conversation, whereas the regional, I need to help reset their expectations.
Ryan Johnson: Recently I got a text message from one of my members. It was 4:29 in the morning on Saturday morning. And I didn’t respond right away, but I certainly didn’t go back to sleep. And later on, I reached out to him and I said, "Hey I think your phone got hacked." And he’s like, my phone didn’t get hacked. I was, well, somebody sent a text message from your phone to mine at 4:29 on Saturday morning. So I figured that couldn’t possibly be you. And he apologized profusely because he lost sight of the fact that there’s a human element on the other side. There was something on his mind and he needed to get it off and wanted to get the resolution. And I think that there’s this reeducation period that we’re going through, reminding the boards and the clients that the managers and the housekeepers and the maintenance personnel and the front desk personnel and the security, these are all human beings and not just functions. And we need to make sure that we’re treating them like human beings.
Chad Franzen: Do you feel like the way you handled that… It sounds like the way you handled that was a good, I don’t know, learning opportunity. You maybe were annoyed to get a text at 4:30 in the morning, but you handled it with a little bit of humor and grace, do you think that helped you moving forward?
Ryan Johnson: Yes. Yeah, I think it helped him understand. And then also gave me the opportunity, after we had a quick laugh about it, to set the expectations of communication, not just for me, but for the team on site, for the managers that rely on my leadership, to have those conversations with these board members, to say these folks have law lives outside of work. And in the event of emergency, you should call me at 4:30 and I will pick up the phone. But if it’s not an emergency, I’ve got other things going on. I prefer not to be sitting up Saturday morning doing these things, and I’m sure your manager prefers to sleep on a Saturday morning as well.
Chad Franzen: Sure. Sure. Hey, Ryan, I really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much. Tell me a little bit more about how people can find out about Castle Group Management.
Ryan Johnson: Absolutely. The best way is through our website, www.CastleGroup.com. And you could Google search us, follow us on social media, like LinkedIn and Facebook and all those things to learn about our great company and our great culture. And we certainly live in a place of the world where the weather is fantastic.
Chad Franzen: Great, great. Sounds good. Hey, thank you so much, Ryan. I really appreciate it.
Ryan Johnson: Chad, thank you. You bet.
Chad Franzen: So long, everybody.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Process Breakdown Podcast. Before you go, quick question, do you want a tool that makes it easy to document processes, procedures, and/or policies for your company so that your employees have all the information they need to be successful at their job? If yes, sign up for a free 14 day trial of SweetProcess. No credit card is required to sign up. Go to SweetProcess.com. Sweet like candy and Process like process.com. Go now to SweetProcess.com and sign up for your risk free 14 day trial.
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