EDITOR’S NOTE: Bowling, Anyone?

By Teresa O’Dea HeinMHN Managing EditorIn the last two hours of a recent workday, my colleagues and I were scheduled to attend a group meeting, but one with a twist. We were all going bowling. Yes, bowling. Attendance was mandatory, which was an important factor because packing boxes for an office move (to a different floor in the same building) and deadlines for the September print issue were looming over us. In Manhattan, where real estate costs are notoriously high, bowling alleys are few and far between. However, one is located near the office of Multi-Housing News and our sister real estate publications also owned by Nielsen Business Media. Bowlmor Lanes was founded in 1938 and is located above ground-floor retail. Personally, I hadn’t been bowling in over 10 years and wasn’t jumping at the chance to rent other people’s shoes. After all, the cool people in the publishing world portrayed on “Ugly Betty” and other programs are shown in nightclubs, not at the local lanes, and my to-do list was already over-extended.But, I have to admit, bowling was a hit. I even rolled a strike, amidst a lot of gutter balls. The event offered the chance to see managers in a refreshing, new way and relate to fellow staffers outside the office. Token prizes given out at the end of a quarterly divisional meeting the next morning reinforced the experience. As Jimmy Buffett sang, “changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.” (Adult beverages were indeed served.)And happy employees are more likely to provide better customer service. With employee turnover rates in double digits in the property management field, it’s vital to work on team building in and out of the office. People who work on different shifts and in different departments at multifamily communities need opportunities to cross paths in a positive, less stressful ways and recharge their relationships, keeping them out of territorial finger-pointing dynamics. Happiness coach JoAnna Brandi, who recently spoke at the National Apartment Association (NAA) annual conference and is speaking later this week at the Florida Apartment Association (FAA) 2008 conference, points out that the deepest human need is for appreciation, according to pioneering psychologist William James. “When leaders develop the art of listening deeply and giving meaningful feedback and genuine appreciation, performance increases,” Brandi reports. “When feeling appreciation, we create a positive emotional and physical response that changes our biochemistry and the variability patterns of our heart.”  “Leaders have the opportunity to create behaviors that help people feel valued and appreciated,” Brandi advises. “Create a ritual–start and end a meeting with gratitude and appreciation. I’ve never heard an employee complain that they get appreciated too much.”Special events likewise create a feeling of appreciation and camaraderie.So, let the games begin!What do you do with your property management teams to build camaraderie? Tell us what works for your employees.To comment on this article, e-mail thein@multi-housingnews.com.