Feedback and Constructive Criticism

I have always taught my children about the value and importance of feedback. We talk about it often. We talk about it so often that it’s second nature for me. I’d never realized what an impact it had made until my youngest began tackle football recently.

The photo below is an interaction of feedback. Since beginning football workouts and practices, my youngest has left the field after 2 long hours, with a one word question when he approaches us.


He understands the value of feedback and constructive criticism. He avoids getting defensive. He trusts the individuals giving him the feedback. He receives feedback with an open mind and an open heart. Most of all, he knows, listening to the feedback is going to make him a better football player. [insert your passion here]

So often in property management we receive feedback in different channels. Allow me to give you a few: reviews, complaints, emails. The WAY we get this feedback, the nature, tone and attitude of this feedback is not always one that provides us the ability to be receptive. I am begging you now, change your outlook.

I’ll even go so far as to remove the resident perspective from this and use team interactions as an example for those leaders and future leaders in the room.

Picture this…’ve made a procedural change on site. Nothing huge that requires policy, just tweaking the way the move-out process gets completed to ensure all information is being gathered for assistant manager (doing deposit accounting) to service team (scheduling vendors). You did this with every fiber of good intention and with efficiency at the forefront of your mind.

A few days later you receive an email that outlines the negative effects this change has made, how incredibly ill-timed it was, how thoughts were not put into the impact this new process would have on the leasing team and their time….etc, etc, etc. (side note here, this is why Talk It Out Moments are VITAL, but for this example let’s presume there wasn’t a joint effort/communication in the process change).

First up, you have to change your perception to all of the above. Negative reviews, complaints, lengthy droning emails, those are all a version of FEEDBACK. They are your opportunity to snag the information provided and pivot. You, your team, your company, your leadership. It’s an opportunity for all of us to digest what is being presented to us and change where needed. It’s a gift and one of the best ones, in my opinion.

For everyone one seemingly negative email that I receive and I’m able to learn from, I can in turn impact thousands more after that. In a better way.

Your first knee jerk reaction is to digest this email as negative. You view this email as an attack on your abilities to do your job. You’re offended that your idea was not embraced and met with enthusiasm. Staaaaaap. STOP. Pivot. Tell yourself on repeat, “This email is positive feedback.” REPEAT.

Second, stop being defensive. It’s an immediate brick wall and nothing is getting through. No one needs to defend their actions, defend their thought processes, defend their intent, defend their decisions. In the example above, defending the action for the procedural change will make the individual giving the feedback feel less important in the decision making process, they’ll feel like their concerns were not legitimately heard and they will shut down, never to give feedback or feel like a part of the team (employee) or community (resident), ever again. They’ll feel like they were met as a threat instead of a valued piece of the puzzle.

(Side note here: that last line I just wrote hits home for me. When my boys take my feedback as a threat to how they’re making decisions, it hurts my soul. Why? Because at the end of the day I am operating in a way to give them what they need to hurt less or to be unimaginably great. Same goes for your team/resident when they’re viewed as a threat because defensiveness was the immediate reaction…..they think, “Well, gee, I was only trying to help the whole team or the entire community. I wasn’t trying to fight.”

Trust the person giving the feedback. See above side note. The truth is, I like to presume that everyone is operating with the best intentions and with a pure heart. Even if it’s a complaint or an email riddled with all of the negativity in the world, I am going to try to pull some positivity from it. For myself, in order to get through the day.

Accepting with a humble and gracious heart. (I tell my youngest to close his eyes and imagine his heart is open like a blank notebook. And that the feedback given are the words filling his own personal notebook.) Sometimes feedback is just that, it’s feedback and it’s presented as feedback…..not as complaint, not as a negative review. When that happens, be thankful and know that someone sees potential enough to give the feedback.

Feedback is a value-add. A value-add to your property? Nah. Not that. Feedback is a value-add to YOURSELF.

Disclaimer: don’t let the mean & cruel get written down in your heart’s notebook……that’s not feedback, that is someone taking advantage of an opportunity to be cruel…..

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