Skip to main content


  • Sub Banner Image 1

Welcome to Property Management Brainstorm, the ultimate podcast for property managers, PropTech ventures, and real estate investors! Join industry expert Bob Preston as he brings you the latest trends, best practices, and invaluable guidance in the world of property management. Whether you're just starting or thriving in the business, Property Management Brainstorm is your go-to destination for all things property management. Please click the "more" button in our episodes below to view the episode notes, listen through the website audio player or the video link, and follow along with the whole episode transcript.

Episode 72: Building High-Performing Teams Ft Gwen Aspen

A high-performing team is more than just a group of talented individuals. It's a cohesive unit that collaborates, focuses on continual improvement, and works toward common objectives to achieve outstanding results. Building high-performing teams has never been more imperative in today's dynamic property management industry. Yet, it has also never been more challenging.

On this episode of Property Management Brainstorm, host Bob Preston is joined by Gwenn Aspen, co-founder and president of Anequim, an organization focused on the property management industry to help companies be more efficient and successful. Tune in as Gwen and Bob will delve into the principles, strategies, and practices that enable organizations to harness the full potential of their property management workforce.

Topics covered:
(02:41) Gwenn Aspen’s background and what Anequim does
(04:48) How achievable is building a high-performing team?
(07:38) Where do you start with building a high-performing team?
(09:51) Entrepreneurial Operating System: the core principles
(13:20) Why you need a vision
(16:36) Where does company culture come from?
(28:47) The power of accountability
(32:03) Establishing clarity
(35:20) EOS rocks… and what are they?
(37:35) Performance reviews and celebrating wins
(42:37) Gwen’s closing thoughts
(44:25) Get in touch with Gwen

Connect with Gwen Aspen, Anequim

We're giving a huge shout-out to our amazing Industry Icon Sponsors for supporting our show:

VPM Solutions
APM Help
Upkeep Media

Connect with Bob Preston

This episode is always available for listening, sharing, or download at Property Management Brainstorm. Subscribe to Property Management Brainstorm on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeart Radio and YouTube.

Transcript of This Episode

Bob Preston  01:17
Hello, Brainstormers, This is Bob Preston, your host broadcasting from our studio in Del Mar, California. I'm excited about today's episode because we will discuss building high-performing property management teams. Before we dive into the topic, I would like to give a huge shout-out to our amazing Industry Icon sponsors for supporting our show:

VPM Solutions
APM Help
Upkeep Media

A high-performing team is more than just a group of talented individuals. It's a cohesive unit that collaborates, focuses on continual improvement, and works toward common objectives to achieve outstanding results. Building high-performing teams has never been more imperative in today's dynamic property management industry. Yet, it has also never been more challenging. On the show today, Gwen Aspen, co-founder and president of Anequim, will join me today. An organization focused on the property management industry to help companies be more efficient and successful. Gwen and I will be delving into the principles, strategies, and practices that enable organizations to harness the full potential of their property management workforce. So whether you're a property management team leader, looking to build a high-performing team, or an individual contributor looking to be your best within a group. This will be a valuable episode. So have a listen.

Gwen,  welcome to the brainstorm. I'm so happy you're here today.

Gwen Aspen  02:33
Oh my gosh, I'm so happy to be here. I'm really excited.

Bob Preston  02:36
Wonderful. I always start the show by learning more about my guests. So, let's roll with that. Please introduce yourself, tell us more about your background, and perhaps a bit about your company, Anequim.

Gwen Aspen  02:47
Yes, of course. So, my name is Gwen and Aspen. I'm the CEO of an aquarium, which helps property primarily property management companies or property management adjacent companies with all their labor needs from virtual assistants. And I'm talking about high-end virtual assistants; these folks can do anything that can be done from behind a computer for an affordable price, boy. So, we find the right talent and ensure they have the benefits they need to be amazingly successful on your team. We also support business owners or managers and ensure the onboarding process is excellent. And that you're set up for success on the front end because so much about that front-end experience indicates how the relationships will move forward. We also do call centers, so we'd have 24-hour call centers for rent manager clients and other larger multifamily property management institutions and do a lot of back-office accounting for folks. So, it runs the gamut, but we're just trying to solve those labor problems for people and ensure they love their business again. And then a little bit about my background: my husband and I owned Wistar Group property management in Omaha, Nebraska, for 16 years before we sold it to Pure. So we come at this from the point of view of knowing the headaches that property management company owners in small and medium-sized business owners face and trying to solve those problems with them with a team mentality.

Bob Preston  04:24
Fantastic, fantastic. You're perfect for today's episode because we will discuss building high-performing property management teams. So this is the first time I've done this. I'm going to have a little fun with you. Podcast, because I'm going to ask you a rhetorical question. There's no right or wrong answer here. All right. So let's let's go with that. It's meant to start the conversation, but I think getting this on the table is essential. And here's the question: when is building a high-performing team just an ideal, or is it really something that's achievable?

Gwen Aspen  04:55
It is achievable, but I understand why you ask and pose the question because I've dealt with teams at all levels. We started our property management company by putting up our shingle, saying that we had our license, and taking any piece of garbage with a roof. And so the talent that we could attract at that moment versus now is so tremendously different. That when I was in the weeds with some of those, like, really rough houses and apartment buildings that we were managing, I wondered, also, can you have this incredible team that inspires you daily mean, is that possible for the small and medium-sized business, but absolutely is if you can provide people with jobs where they're learning and growing and a strong vision that they can get behind. Suppose you have those two things. And then, you work with your team to ensure it is executed effectively; you all can go to work and genuinely love the experience of working with these people. And I promise it's possible.

Bob Preston  06:07
It's kind of in the eyes of the beholder, where you are in the growth and development of your own company and the image that the owner wants to reflect within the business to, like you said, in the early stages, when there might be a few properties. And maybe they're not the best; let's say that it might be challenging to attract those high-performing individuals. But, you know, you gotta gotta work through that. Right. So, how do you? How do you live? Standards may be slightly over there than they might be further down the road.

Gwen Aspen  06:37
For me, it's just been set; business ownership is such a head game of the person owning the business. And it has been for me, I can only speak for myself, a personal growth journey. And when I decided that what I was tolerating was no longer tolerable for me, the business grew, and the people I worked with grew. So it is like, what do you think you deserve? What do you think your business can't achieve? If your business is small right now, you could sell an employee on your vision, the growth they'll see, and the person they will become while on your team. You can tell that story, even if you're managing out of your garage. And if you can say it successfully, you can get those great people on a team. So it is that head game of what you think you deserve. And you know what you're willing to tolerate?

Bob Preston  07:38
Okay, so what's the secret? If you know, you're talking to your average person who maybe is a company owner, and they're struggling with this? How do I build a high-performing team? Where do they start? And what should they do? Right in building a high-performing team for their property management company?

Gwen Aspen  07:54
Okay, so back to the vision, I honestly think if you want a high-performing team, you want to play the pretend game, like what would it feel like to work at a place that the people you want to attract would like to work at. So, for me, that starts with the tenant experience, the vendor experience, and the owner experience. Suppose high-performing people want to avoid dealing with fires every day, all day. So, honestly, it starts with making those those different interests not yell at you. And if you can create and reverse engineer from the experience of the people you work with, if you can make that experience very high-end, then reverse engineer to the people you're working with. And what are those job descriptions? I go back to being very clear about the job and what winning looks like in those roles. And if you think about it holistically like that, that's the first place to start when designing a high-performance team. And so as you're creating those job descriptions, or redesigning that, like maybe go back to if you have a few employees, and you're like, I don't know what you do all day, you know, or I don't think that we have our roles clearly defined, whenever companies are stagnant, or just having kind of a rough moment, going back to those job descriptions, totally is the clarity I think a lot of companies need. Once you have that clarity, you can finally ask people to perform better. And you can have KPIs, and you can say, these are the expectations I need. They're all written down. It's very organized, this is what I need from you. And that then when you're asking for that accountability, that's when you say, This person is working or not working for me.

Bob Preston  09:51
Okay, we need more time to dive into this topic and probably do it justice today. I still want to ask you about the Entrepreneurial Operating System, or EOS. So, do you run EOS in your organization?

Gwen Aspen  10:03
Yes, I'm a giant fan.

Bob Preston  10:07
I got that, reading through your website and whatnot. So, for those unfamiliar with EOS, can you brief us on the core principles and what it's all about?

Gwen Aspen  10:19
Yes. So, EOS is like the grown-up in your in your organization. That's how we came across it. I had a maintenance guy when I had my maintenance or property management company come to me, and he was complaining about his job. And I told him, Look, Tom, there are no grown-ups. We're the grown-ups; we have to figure this out. And I left, I left the office and a half. And I, this is back when I had bookstores; I drove to the nearest bookstore. And I was just, like, looking for the answers. And I found the book Traction, which is what EOS is like the main book, and I read it, and I, in the bookstore, I thought, Oh, my God, this is the grown-up; I was looking for this book. It is the grown-up in our organization,

Bob Preston  11:09
It's almost like a recipe for company help. That's what I like to refer to.

Gwen Aspen  11:13
It is, and so basically, what EOS does is it helps you simplify things. What are your goals? How are you going to hold people accountable? What are you going to measure? And then it gives you a system, a cadence to your meetings, and a rhythm to your year that helps you drive the bus forward with focus and intention. I don't know. Is that a good way to describe it?

Bob Preston  11:41
That's fantastic. Now, are you a trained implementer by chance?

Gwen Aspen  11:46
No, and, you know, as a small business owner, and I mean, my podcast is called Bootstrappers. So, I've bootstrapped everything. I bought the $14.99 book then; that's how much it cost. And I read it, and then I bought it for my whole team. And nobody read it. Because I was like my new shiny object, I'm like, Oh, my God, this will change our lives. We all have to read this book; nobody reads it. Nobody reads books anymore. And so then I just got frustrated. And I, I didn't start at the beginning. EOS wants you to do this whole, like vision day like today, project, but I wasn't going to get my team on board. So, I said I would like to take over the weekly meeting, and I would like to run it with my agenda. Can you allow me to do that? And I started with that weekly meeting and running the plan Eos way. Within three sessions, they were hook, line, and sinker onboard. And we ended up purchasing the software About a month later, everyone was bought in. So that's what I recommend people do is start with a meeting first. And then you can go once you have the buy-in with a team, then go back to the two-day session.

Bob Preston  13:04
I love that. And then you're on your way to building a high-performing team. So yes, a little more detail on I don't again; I want to avoid diving into this. But EOS looks at your company in six categories where you want to perform well. That's what it's all about. As you mentioned, I think vision is one of the most underserved. Right? Well, you got to have a vision, right? And yet, it's one that many companies could do better at, including my own, when I still had my property management business, which I also sold to Pure; we have that in common. And every year, I had my team go through the online assessment. It's free. It's on there. It's on the Eos website. And it's 20 questions that you answer, and it gives you back the scores between zero to 100. And we always did well in all these categories except for vision. And I was astonished because I thought it was so obvious, correct, but apparently, right. Perhaps that is because it was all in my head, or maybe when I talked, nobody listened. I don't know. But why is not having a clear vision, which you mentioned earlier, such a problem for our workforce? And is it a common issue that you see with property management teams?

Gwen Aspen  14:20
Yeah, it's a complex industry. I remember feeling uninspired by our vision, especially when we started. I was like; I didn't even understand the point of having values at the beginning of my business journey even understand the point of having values. I was like, I don't know, we don't screw people over. Is that enough of a value? I was like, it's a rough and tumble industry. We're cleaning up these, you know, rough properties. I mean, how visionary is this? Like, we're just getting our job done. And I mean, and that's why I say business as a journey. Now, I look at property management and see it from a different perspective. I Like housing in Maslow's pyramid as one of the most basic needs, and it is so generally stressful to rent a home in any way; the whole process is stressful. And isn't it like a little piece of giving back to the world to do it well, make it easy, and make someone love living in their home? That is such a gift that you could give the world a tremendous contribution. And so as business owners, if we see our job that way, and we see every interaction being significant, and giving somebody a positive experience, and maybe what otherwise is a very rough, difficult day. And if we can convey that day in and day out with our team, they get buy-in from that; I mean, you can, you can take that vision, and you can give it to someone else. And our teams are looking for a picture. I mean, depression and loneliness are epidemics in our society. As business owners, if we can give people purpose and tell them that their jobs matter and that they matter, they will not leave us if they feel that way. And if you use the EOS system, and you give them a rock and say, I believe in you, I want to stretch you a little farther, I need this project done. And could you please lead it? And I'd like to coach you through it. But this is your project; you own it, your baby. Those people won't leave us if we do those things for them.

Bob Preston  16:36
Some of what you're talking about is starting to sound slightly like company culture. So, where does that fit into this conversation? As a team leader, you can't force the adoption of a company culture. But you can certainly help create it or lead it. But, in the end, it has to come from the team. Am I right about that?

Gwen Aspen  16:55
It does. I have teenage girls. You have this vision for how your day will go, and then you get your teenagers home from school. And you're like, well, that wasn't what I expected. But company culture is similar. And it's the tiny habits and moments that create the whole company culture. So it's from how you greet them in the morning to how you recognize success to how disciplined you are. And if you make meetings on time, or if you're late, and if you hold people accountable, it's, it's the little habits that create a company culture, just like in our household, it's like, do we eat together? Do we eat separately are cleanrooms critical? Are they not important? Is saying thank you essential or not? Those little moments are what create a family culture or company culture. And so if you start with what habits you think are necessary to you, the kind of environment you want to work in, and how we treat our employees is how they treat the customers. And so if we treat them with a high degree of respect, but also responsibility, you know, and we say, " When they go low, we go high, and we treat them in a respectable way. They will treat the tenants, owners, and vendors that way. But it might be a slightly different way of approaching it than what other people have said.

Bob Preston  18:34
So it's tough today because we have this multi-generational workforce also got boomers still, you know, mixed in with Gen X, millennials, Gen Z's now are starting to come into play. So what challenges does that put because some of the stuff you were talking about is okay, doing things the same way and treating people correctly? Maybe we still need to talk about incentivizing people, but these different generations have different ways of viewing what you were talking about. So what's the person to do?

Gwen Aspen  19:04
If they do, it's interesting. And I was thinking about this. Because also put another wrench in that. Bob, like I work with an international team. So, put some cultural elements into that. And then you have even additional complexity. The exciting thing is that our teams primarily run virtual; almost everything's virtual at our business. And we have fewer cultural issues than when we were all in the office. We had a 19-year-old and an operations girl in our property management office and an 80-year-old sales guy. Wow. I know he had so much energy, but I'll tell you the problems I had with what he thought was appropriate in an office setting and what she thought was approved. Getting to the office setting could have been different. And I do see that now that we're working more virtually, I don't have those problems anymore; I don't have that drama anymore in the office. So, going virtual can cut down on some of those issues. But aside from that, one of the things to think about when you're looking at your company, and all these different generations working together, is the number one thing as a manager is you have to be able to talk about the elephant in the room. So if your eight-year-old sales guy is making super inappropriate jokes to the 19-year-old, that has to be addressed, and it can't be. You can't beat around the bush. And you have to be clear on what's acceptable at your business and then hold the line. And people, people get it once you set the tone; I had a vendor have a very sexually inappropriate comment in one of our virtual meetings with the team. And I immediately cut it off and said, we're moving on. And so that set the tone that looks, it's a have fun with your friends, I don't care what you talk about. But this is a workplace. And I'm not going to get sued over this call. So you know. I have clear boundaries as a business owner: what's acceptable, what's not acceptable cuts, and the problem. And then as far as motivation goes, just knowing each individual on your team well, because it is hard to categorize Gen Z's like this Gen X is like that, especially when you're in a multi-generational, or I'm sorry, a multicultural team, those things that we think are clear in the United States have a heuristic of a specific generation. It doesn't apply to people who grew up in the 90s in Mexico during the peso crisis, right? There are cultural events that formed their lives are different. So, I do vision boards for each of my team members. And I want to know their dreams, true life ambitions, and what's important to them. And then, you can only do it with some projects when we're working on projects. But if I can merge their overall goals with what we're doing right now, I try to do that. And then they'd be seen as individuals rather than cohorts with their generation.

Bob Preston  22:24
One of the EOS metrics that I've always appreciated is problem-solving. And I always used to think that that was one of the more valuable areas to be focused on. Because you know, how your problems and especially it's multigenerational, we were also multicultural, critical. And we scored extremely high on that one. And it was because of the overall transparency within the organization. So, you know, I have a Silicon Valley background; I was a former technology executive. And, you know, back in the day, when I was there, it was a little more expressive than then you can get away with today and more team building all this stuff. So we never went that far. But it was the same principle. And the same philosophy of Okay, let's get in a room now and then on this, like, let's dig in, and everybody gets to share, everybody gets a piece of the action, everybody can speak up. We might have disagreements, but that's fine. But at the end of the day, you know what? We're going to make a decision. And then, when we leave the room, I expect everybody to be on the same page. And I don't want to hear about it. Right. I want to bring it up again in a future meeting. Fine. We'll go through it again. But in the meantime, okay. This is what we came up with. And regardless of culture or generation, people could always get on board with that because they had a piece of that decision if that makes sense.

Gwen Aspen  23:46
Yes. So you got the buy-in first, I think, to an extent, like it's not a democracy, like at the end of the day, you know, the company's owner will make the decision. But you were heard, and we thought about your ideas. And then we decided; you said you all get behind it. Before you can get to that place, two things have to happen. One, you have to build up trust, especially with virtual teams; it takes work to build that trust that you have in an office setting. Yes, it is more challenging. And it's for drivers. Like I like to get things done. I want to move fast. But I do take the time with the teams that I'm managing. We do 15-minute huddles, and yes, we go through the dues and what we will get done. But we spent five minutes discussing good news because that trust saved me time later. After all, if I write a rapid email that doesn't have the niceties, they will take it correctly because we spoke that morning and talked about our pets. So it saves me drama later if trust is built. So faith is like a pillar. And then as a business owner or manager for your high-performing team. You know, sometimes you know that the environment has gotten too Toxic somehow that you're not exactly sure who's the toxic, like, who's the linchpin of the toxicity. But if you're talking more about things that don't drive you towards your ultimate goals, like drama, relationships, or something like that at the office instead of, you know, how do we meet this goal faster and better? You know, whatever, whatever your metrics are, that's an indication that you have toxicity on your team. And then your job as a manager is to figure out who is stirring that pot. And so what can cause the units to be on different pages is that there are these little dramas you might not even know about happening. And then if you have no drama, and the team is healthy, and then you have trust built, then when you say, Okay, here's the decision, we're moving forward, everyone's aligned. And that's when the magic happens. That's when running a business is truly fun.

Bob Preston  26:01
Yeah, and it's interesting that toxicity comment because sometimes, you can identify that person. But I've, I've done this before, I'm guilty of this, as a business owner, I've been reluctant to try to fix it because I was, I was scared, and I was scared that if I took someone out of the position, or a, or I let somebody go, it was going to cause more damage to the company than allowing that person to remain. And that wasn't very pleasant when I did that, and eventually, it would come to a head, and I would deal with it. And then immediately, it was like, this veil was lifted on, and I could see everybody's faces, you know? Well, Bob, about time, you know, they were waiting for something to take place, right, and it never did. And then finally, when I did, everyone's, like, hallelujah, you know, we can all get back to work down, we don't have this daily drag on our work on our workplace.

Gwen Aspen  26:54
It is such a that's such a hard management lesson. It's one of the hardest, especially if you have a fast-growing business and you're scaling like crazy. And then you have this loyalty, this person that helped you at the very beginning, that came on board and believed in you. And then if they don't scale at the pace of the business, it's excruciating, it's hurtful. But I think it's essential to think of the industry as a whole; the firm serves, as we talked about before, the tenants, the owners, and the vendors, and their experience with your company is essential to their lives, the background of your good employees, they need to have a good experience at work. And so that's where the rubber hits the road. And that's why our jobs can be challenging; we have to be the hard ones who are like, this doesn't work anymore. But if you have clear job descriptions and KPIs and know what winning looks like and what you won't tolerate when you're clear, those decisions come much more quickly. The other piece is if you still need to have well-documented procedures or are letting them run wild, it can be excruciating to let that person go. And so you hold on to them because you're like, I don't have time to redo the whole sales or operations teams. But I promise you, if you bite the bullet, there are so many more problems underneath the surface that if you wait longer, it will just be worse.

Bob Preston  28:28
Yes, I agree; there will always excuses for delaying the inevitable. Oh, well, it's the holidays, you know, I can't do it now. Or, oh, you know, they just had their birthday. I can't do it now. Right. But ultimately, it needs to be done. Well, it's a good industry segue because you're starting to touch on an area that is also pretty, pretty deep. But we can hit it today. And that's accountability. When you start talking about responsibility, you can get into all kinds of things. Earlier, you mentioned KPIs. In this conversation, I've also heard you speak of processes, procedures, and systematization. So there are all kinds of ways to approach it. But let's talk about that a little bit. The best way to achieve accountability is to make expectations clear. I've heard you say that several times already. And how that plays out in building a high-performing team.

Gwen Aspen  29:18
Well, how about I start with a failure, though, how I was a terrible manager. So I had this woman, a customer service rep at the property management company. I wanted to be liked by her, but she needed to do a better job. And we did do an excellent job at doing quality control. And we've listened to calls daily and then given people feedback. So, every day, I'm giving her this negative feedback. All the negativity is what I, the negative stuff is what I want to deliver and what I want her to improve on. But I'm so concerned about her liking me for my own sake because I'm like insecure whatever, that I did the crab sandwich that's known at a different, you know if this were if we were at Bar Bar, I would say it another way. But you know, you say the positive thing on the front end. And then you say the crap you want to say in the middle, ending it all positive. So I'm doing this every single day. Well, this employee's super optimistic. So, she misses the whole meat of the deal; it is only focused on the positive things. So, I ended up firing her, and she was utterly shocked. And I hear through the grapevine that finding another job is hard for her. And I'm just, like, dying inside. And it was a moment where I realized that clarity truly is kindness. And if I'm giving feedback to solve my insecurities instead of caring about the person I'm talking to, being very clear about the truth of the matter, and not doing them any favors. And so, clarity is essential. Now, there are ways to be precise. So, when I give feedback, I want to be clear that this is not going well. But I don't want it to create shame in the person. So, look, this is not going well; your job performance is terrible. But I believe in you, as a human, that you can do this. So one person that comes to mind had too many jobs as they worked for us, but then they were like photographers. And then they had a family business that they helped with. And I'm like, oh, and then they were a coach. And that was her. Her problem was she needed to be more focused on the job that was giving her benefits and, you know, making the majority of her money. And that was easy for me to be like, Look, this job's not going well, you're not, this isn't going to work out if X, Y, and Z doesn't happen. And you're a beautiful person, you're so talented, but you have to focus more, you know? So. You can be nice, not damage their view of themselves, and still be clear that the work is unacceptable.

Bob Preston  32:02
So, okay, what is it that establishes that clarity? Is it putting these KPIs in place, telling them precisely what you expect, and putting it in measurable form? Is that what it is?

Gwen Aspen  32:15
Yes, it is going over those, like through an EOS methodology, where people are clear that it needs to go in the right direction. Still, it's more than that because people tend to be optimistic until you know what you want. So, I've been doing the PIP forms; we do PIP forms for all of our virtual assistants, too. And so it's hard for people to say, " If this, this, and this, these metrics, don't get mad if this doesn't improve, we're going in different directions. But that's the clarity people need. And that's the clarity a lot of managers are afraid to give. But if you're at the point where someone might be losing their job, that's what's required. Another thing with high-level employees is that it's tough to do because it's easy with a low-level employee, like unit, you needed to touch all these maintenance service issues. And this week, you only feel 75% of them. So bad, you know, bad on you. But for your COO, I mean, and you know, their economic changes, or whatever happens, it's more complicated. So sometimes I have gone through where I rewrote the job description, especially if the business is scaling, that job that's required of them is changing. Could you rewrite the job description? And then at the bottom of that, have the things that didn't go well, the last year or the last quarter, whatever the previous review period was, and have a frank discussion about what didn't go well and what your expectations are in a similar situation moving forward, have them sign it. And then that creates a lot of clarity of what's expected. People have to get to that point to have a high-performing team. Because if people know you are fair, you will fire this person; your team has to believe it was the right choice. And they have to think that it was fair. And so if you have a track record of being honest with people, Drama goes down, and your team performs better. 

Bob Preston  34:23
One of the things I liked to do, which came from the EOS methodology, is the accountability chart. You know, accountability is huge. And in this case, the accountability chart was a summary. We were a functionally organized company when I had North County Property Group. So, you know, there are portfolio organizations and other types of hybrid; we were functionally departmental. So, all the team members need to understand what the other person did. And so we go over this quarterly. Hey, here's the accountability chart. Sometimes, responsibility was a change shift between people. But here's who this what this person does. Here's the bullet list of the top things. And then those were typically used by their direct supervisor for weekly on-ones. Are you? Are you a big one-on-one fan?

Gwen Aspen  35:13
I'm a huge one-on-one fan. And I liked them for that reason to go over those KPIs. 

Bob Preston  35:20
And you earlier mentioned EOS rocks. For those unfamiliar with EOS, rocks are like goals or objectives for some measurable period. We always made ours quarterly. Sometimes, it can be monthly. It could even be weekly. I don't know. But yeah, those rocks are those goals and objectives that need to be tied back to those accountability lists. And those typically are where the KPIs can come in, and some of the measurable ones are right because this is my chance. 

Gwen Aspen  36:00
So that's why I like the software because it not only gives you agendas for your quarterly meeting, your annual meeting, and your weekly meetings, but it also can show you if you have multiple teams, like if you're a business owner, you can look and see their agenda and see what they covered and make sure that you like what was done in that meeting. But it also has a perfect org chart built into it so that anybody at the business can go into a functional org chart; you can go into someone's role and see what is expected of them. And that, those expectations, being clear on that prevents the right hand from not knowing what the left hand is doing. Drama. And, you know, departments not liking each other, that kind of stuff goes away if there's clarity of the role.

Bob Preston  36:59
I really liked that. And Okay, well, so let's say now that we've got a team that's working well together, they're well on their way to being high-performing. They've got goals, they've got objectives, they have their accountability, they have their KPIs. Let's look at the tail end of that because I meet a lot of property management companies and company owners in the industry. And I think another underserved area, and you touched on this earlier, is observing and recognizing achievement, and people doing those good jobs, right, celebrating the achievements. You also touched on regular performance reviews. I mean, what a concept. I mean, some of this stuff, particularly in what you do professionally and within your company. Do you agree and know why those fundamentals are so critical?

Gwen Aspen  37:51
So, about celebrating the wins? Are we talking about that piece specifically? 

Bob Preston  37:58
Yes, celebrating winds, and then part two would be performance reviews. 

Gwen Aspen  38:03
Oh, yes. And the performance reviews? Well, a few things with celebrating the wins, I'm going to go. Like I've learned everything by just doing it the wrong way. So, I used to think everyone was motivated by money. Like, you want to, they did a good job, throwing some money at them. And that can get you in trouble in several different ways. When learning about your team members, ask them how they like to be recognized and what they value. And, if they win, what would be necessary to get a feel for it? Because sometimes people like parties, people hate recognition. And it's uncomfortable, and they want one-on-one; they want to know from you that they did a good job. So people love it. So you can, especially in a small team, you can customize what winning looks like and how you recognize that per team member so that you hit them where they are. That would be one way to celebrate the wins. And then for the annual reviews, they're hugely important. We have a cadence with all of our virtual assistants, where they get yearly reviews and feedback because they're often starving for Am I doing a good job? Are you happy with me in a general way? How do you see I can grow? And those conversations are essential for your true A players. They need that because they need to know that they're growing year to year or going somewhere where they feel like they can grow faster.

Bob Preston  39:39
It's so essential, and yet, it's so hard to take the time to do sometimes as a business owner because in property management mainly, I mean, all businesses were running so fast. It's so dynamic that you've got people you know calling, texting, and emailing. All this incoming noise and then to cut through all that didn't spend the time and, and let's face it, it is a time-consuming and methodical thing to do on an annual basis or whatever the, you know, kind of the schedule is for that, like, man, it's so critical, I think to just, I sometimes used to get up and walk around and go through the bullpen walk dropping on people's offices have this one on one conversations on kind of spontaneously. And just simple thank yous, Right? Or, you know, Oh, I saw you do this. And we were in an environment where I could overhear people's conversations. And now and then, I'd hear something that went brilliantly, and I would always try to make it a point of getting up and walking over and saying, Wow, that was a tough conversation; you handled that well, so thank you!

Gwen Aspen  40:48
It's amazing. And a lot of us focus on the negative. I mean, the world focuses on the negative. But I learned a great lesson from we have Boystown, which is an orphanage here in Omaha. And they also do group homes and things like that. But at Boystown, they have these like parents: two adults live with eight teenagers. And they're only allowed to give one corrective action for every eight positive things they say to a child. And they have to document it on these iPads. It's like a database system. And I always know that we need to hear eight positive things for every corrective action as human beings to feel like we're contributing, to feel like we matter, and to feel like our job has a purpose. And I always do a gut check to see if I am focusing on the right things. Am I giving enough positive reinforcement? Do people know what they matter and how they matter to the organization?

Bob Preston  41:53
Because we're all relationships, too.

Gwen Aspen  41:55
Yeah. All right. Oh, right. Yeah. Think about that. So often, that, and I probably went to Boystown on that tour, you know, 15 years ago, but it stuck with me.

Bob Preston  42:09
Wow, well, we've barely scraped the surface of this topic. This would be fun to do as a panel on Sunday; we should do that, you know, we should do that. Think how cool that would be. And to have more time, maybe somebody moderating, it would be a great topic. I have yet to hear it done. Like with this title. Right? So we should do that sometime. But in the interest of time, we have to wrap up today. But what are some closing thoughts you can share with our listeners about this topic?

Gwen Aspen  42:37
Closing thoughts: First, I want to acknowledge that property management is complex. And if you're in here and fighting daily, kudos to you; it's a total head game. And it's a good time of year to reflect because we're going to have problems; we're always going to have problems. But what kind of problems do we want? At the beginning of my business journey, I accepted a lot of drama from my employees and allowed them to get me into meshed and silly situations. And then I decided I didn't want those problems. And so as you elevate in the business world, and you become more of the business you wish to, my hope for all the property managers is that their problems become getting to their goals sooner, rather than drama are things that are working out or, you know, tenants, yelling tenants or owners yelling at them. And so it is possible to have a business where your processes are so great, your people are so wonderful, that you don't have those headaches or fires that you used to have. And I want everyone to have that experience of remembering what it used to be like and knowing the calm that can happen with excellent processes and procedures, using EOS, and having the right team. It really can be fun. And if you start with that vision, you can make the changes today that will get you there.

Bob Preston  44:16
So, did everybody hear that? It's more than just an ideal. It can happen, and we have Gwen here telling us that. So you guys, you got to do it right. Okay, if someone wants to contact you or Anequim to learn more about the company and your services, that will be the best way.

Gwen Aspen  44:31
You can go to We have so much free information on our website. We have ebooks, and we have podcasts. We have hundreds of episodes of podcasts talking about the problems of starting a business, running a business, scaling a business, and managing people. We're frank and open about our challenges on there. But we want to help business owners in any way we can't; fill out a form. We'd love to contact you and see if we can help you solve some of your problems. That's wonderful.

Bob Preston  45:05
Lots of good stuff on the website. I can attest to that. I was there prepping for the podcast and found many cool articles. Thank you so much for coming on the show today!

Gwen Aspen  45:14
It was my pleasure. Such a great time. Thank you, Bob