Ethics in Property Management: A Cutting-Edge Topic?
Absolutely! Why, you ask? It’s not a bunch of boring legal stuff that is neither cool nor sexy. Heck, it’s not even about marketing, technology, social media, or anything current or trending, as they say. Or is it?
I think it’s very cutting edge to act ethically, and above all, with the highest respect for your employer, clients, and customers. It’s not an easy track to maintain with all of the examples we see and hear about every day. Other people did it, so why not me? So-and-so was able to do this and they got away with it. Why should I walk the straight line? If they don’t know it, it won’t hurt them. Hey, I can e-mail documents, take files, and share information about my properties or clients freely! What’s the big deal?
Today more than ever, the world is becoming more and more transparent. Documents, information, and actions move so fast. You can’t hide, run away, or conceal your actions. There is e-mail, tweets, LinkedIn, and many other virtual business networks where your trail of activity exists. Use extreme caution. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to this vital aspect in our roles as property managers, leasing agents, or company executives.
No matter what segment of the real estate industry you’re in, finance, marketing, management, operations, facilities, et cetera all require an intimate knowledge of ethics and how ethics work. Many of us belong to organizations such as IREM, NARPM, BOMI, REALTOR, CCIM, SIOR, and scores of affiliations that all carry a code of ethics to which you must adhere. If you don’t adhere to these codes, you may be sanctioned.
The timing of this topic is speaking to me as I teach an online BOMI International course, Fundamentals of Real Property Operations. Chapter 1 is, you guessed it, Ethics! Just today I received a tremendous and timely report of Real Life Ethics Cases from IREM, which is a powerful document that should be required reading for all employees at every single real estate firm, whether it be leasing, property management, or brokerage companies.
If you do not have this IREM Real Life Ethics Cases document, it’s strongly suggested that you obtain it and distribute it for your entire staff to read. Additionally, study your favorite organizations’ codes of ethics and use them as a road map to create one for your company. Today with the advent of virtual networking and conversations moving at the speed of light, it is surely cutting edge to consider the impact of your communication and online interactions, and how they may or may not cross the line of ethics.
Here are some excellent examples to give you a good start on how the various facets of our industry address their respective member code of ethics:
Host meetings or brown bag lunches to talk about what is acceptable within your company code of ethics and what is not acceptable. Make your statements clear and connect the dots to real-life examples of what can happen. Role playing can be fun and create bonds with your teams when working with this subject matter.
Again, I repeat, the study of ethics is truly cutting edge, and I believe it will start to take the front seat and be a hand-in-glove solution to many of our corporate policies as they relate to social media. I told you ethics was cutting edge! I am not steering you wrong!