I landed my first job in the community management industry when at the ripe age of 19. Within two years, I was a Community Manager, leading a master plan community of over 1,500 homes with several sub associations, a corporate park, and 1,000 acres of wetland. To say there was any formal training at my first job would be a huge stretch. Education came through trial and error and luckily, a great female mentor. To be honest, I had no clue what I was doing in those early years, but I was tenacious and a problem solver, and figured it out.
Unfortunately though, my story is not unique. It’s a sad reality that our industry has a low barrier of entry and not many resources within companies devoted to career or workforce development. Not that these resources don’t exist, we have simply created our own vicious cycle of under cutting on price and lacking financial leverage for talent. However, the community management industry has a unique advantage to offer women, which is the ability to craft a career that allows harmony between the home and work life.
At 25 years old I unexpectantly got pregnant. I loved my work, but I was running a regional office for a large multi-state management company at this time and worked more hours than I care to admit. That had become the norm and I didn’t know any different. All through my pregnancy, I assured my leadership I would be back after my maternity leave.
The birth of my daughter changed everything and after being called relentlessly, even when I was in labor with her, I knew I could not stay. It was a sad reality that my company at that time lacked the resources to handle my time off and frankly, they had no perspective how much work they placed on one individual and the inevitable failures that come with this dynamic. When I resigned my position and chose not to return it was more about the environment that I worked in than the work itself. So, I took my tenacity and resilient nature and started my own company!
Please don’t misunderstand me, this is not a cry for managers to leave their companies and start your own thing, quite the opposite. I wished at 25 years old there was a company that was willing to standup for the ideals I believe are the future of the industry. I wished there was a company that valued innovation over the way it had always been done. That did not exist for me, so I created it. (I also never went after any of my previous clients, not one, because I knew we could be better than that!)
What I hope by sharing my story is that company owners, CEOs, COOs and Directors of Community Management companies stop wondering why you can’t find people that want to work hard, but rather take a critical look at the environment you are creating for them. I will let you in on a secret, as I have a good perspective, you must be willing to work with clients that see the value and importance of what you provide, be willing to say no and support your staff, and be willing to set a higher standard for you and your company. And lastly, stop selling night meetings as a normal, no one makes good decisions at 8pm at night!
Read the article in CAI's Common Ground Magazine at: https://lsc-pagepro.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=566812&ver=html5&p=8
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