Getting along with a manager

I am about to hire my first manager and I’m hoping some of you more experienced owners can give some guidance as to how to get along with them. The job entails very little as rent collection is done online. It’s a 42 year old guy, laid off and going to school, with a son. I’ve already e-mailed him with the duties and my expectations and I tried to make them really clear yet acknowledging that everything is subject to tweaking.

So what do you recommend? Are there specific things I can do to make a manager happy, productive and willing to stay for a long time? If this seems naive, it is because I really don’t like employees and have never been in this situation before. Plus my profs never taught anything practical like this in B-school.

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Wheat Hill


There is not one single correct answer for this question basically because you are talking about ‘people’. I’ve led over 350 projects with dozens of firms over my career and all I can say is that business would be really easy if people were not involved - I’m serious.

With that said there are some high level and detailed things to think of:

  1. Money is important but most people want to feel Respected, Valued and Appreciated. Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. Treat your employee as you want to be treated. Lead by example and show them respect first. Also if they make a mistake, never call them out in public. But let them know in private.

  2. Set expectations early:

I dont know what you conveyed when hiring but I convey these things to people I’ve hired (parks and corporate):

  • Values I must expect: Respect for everyone, honesty, integrity, responsibility. I can work with people who need to learn the ropes (unless they are really that incompetent). I tell them several times that I am a very generous manager and will stick by them. But if they go against these values I will fire them in a heartbeat.

  • No My job - whenever I hear that I cringe. While I dont want my manager doing certain things I dont want to hear that attitude.

  1. Set them up for success: My job in managing the manager is to give them everything they need to be successful. I WANT them to be successful. I am not a tyrant sitting in the ivory tower. But I can be if they breach my trust.

  2. Get to know their style, experiences, strengths and weaknesses. Some people can be pushed hard with candor. Some cannot. Some are good with people, some are not. Its not enough that you communicate via YOUR style. You need to be aware of the best way to resonate and motivate them.

Here are some detailed things you can consider:

  1. Compensation: Make sure that their compensation is fair and their incentives are aligned with your goals. You could incent on selling homes, better rules adherence, better control of contracting costs, etc. Let them have a chance to make money in a way that makes you more money.

  2. Review standard reports and metrics - if you dont measure it you cant improve it. If there are things you want to ensure then make sure its measured and reviewed with your manager consistently.

  3. Talk to them periodically. No I’m not talking about listening to their stories. But you should have business calls with them. You mentioned that you emailed the expectations. Yes, it good to put things in writing but you also need to talk to them…in person at first. Btw, the best thing is to A) talk to them about a topic B) send them an email to confirm what you discussed.

Start setting expectations that you want them to be precise in their duties.


  • As I always say, keep one or two people as backups in case the first one does not work out.

Btw - I have not even touched upon all the various facets of people management. But those are real life learnings, not that B-school schlock.


The scariest thing about your manager is that they are unemployed, going to school, and have a kid. How much are you paying this guy? Unless it’s enough to handle all his bills, you are setting yourself up for problems, as he will do whatever it takes to pay his bills – even if that includes embezzlement, kick-backs, or 101 other schemes.

Your park is not big enough to pay someone $2,000 per month. So I’m assuming you’re going to pay him $1,000 per month or less. If that’s the case, I’ll bet you that you will be in trouble real fast. You would be better off with someone who has a full time job, or is retired and looking for a little extra income. We pay our managers roughlhy $10 per lot plus free lot rent or free mobile home rent. In your park – if my memory serves me – you’d be paying roughly $700 per month plus free lot or home rent.

Maybe this guy’s a total winner. But experience would tell me you are on the path to really bad problems.

Go retired military if possible Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. We have a retired 32 year Green Beret Special Ops guy in Idaho (long range sniper to be exact) He is the hardest working, detail oriented and the most loyal guy I have ever met. I, like Howard will say the most difficult thing about running a business that requires employees is the employees. I had 72 employees when I owned convenience stores. It was a running joke between me an my accountant when he would ask how my 72 partners were doing and if they were happy with their undisclosed compensation of what ever they could eat, drink and steal on a work shift. Anyway. In regards to compensation we are about the same as what Frank mentioned. As Howard said have back ups +++. Rolf are you hiring this guy and leaving the country. I ask because at one time I remember you talking about Saudi Arabia or something. I hope you have all your over view systems in place. One more thing in follow up to Howard - I am sure you have set the standard of what you want and expect around the community, especially if you have been the manager, but this new guy may need to see you perform it for awhile before he really gets it.


You should teach B students. You could call your course “Something Practical for a Change.” There are some Fred Pryor seminars for on how to manage people and I think I should sign up when they come back to town.


I wasn’t clear and I was keeping in mind what you are talking about. The guy was a steel mill manager for 19 years - great job/pay/bennies but you know what a growth industry that is. He has his own pressure washing business so he does work and he must continue to do so as his son is in a private school. What really got me is his current rent is $455 for a 1/1 apartment (in a dumpy part of town) smaller than the home I’m providing and his landlord is a judge who handles my evictions! Small world. MTM so he’s not breaking a lease. Compensation is a 12 X 60, 2/1, in top condition for $75/month (market value is about $400+) rent, high-speed Internet, bonus for selling homes, and he likes to garden so I pay for all that. Mileage reimbursement and flat fee ($25) for court appearances. He had his application back to me instantly and his view is that he’s moving up in his living situation but paying way less.

Hope that clears things up and I appreciate any and all input.


Wheat Hill


I’m thinking along your lines regarding training. I’m not leaving for the Kingdom yet and I made it clear that he would learn the job by tailing me when I perform any sort of management functions. Management of the park takes way less than 5% of my time so it’s pretty easy and that’s an attractive aspect of the position.

I’ve been thinking on my own about how to have a back up system in place and I’m working on that now. The fact that both you and Howard have emphasized this means that it must be really important. The park phone # will stay in place and be forwarded to my e-mail (thanks Howard for that info) and everyone in the park has my e-mail address. It’s part of my evolving plan to allow anyone to contact me when problems are still small enough to fix. Everyone has my contact info now and it’s been a beneficial situation so far.


Wheat Hill


What will be the manager’s role if he is not collecting rent and tenants continue to contact you directly?


Somebody has to be on site simply to be a point of contact for people. The manager will have his own phone # and e-mail and my outgoing voice mail message will suggest people contact him first. Applications have to be taken and homes shown to new residents but I must deal with financing and resident selection. In case of an eviction, either I or my representative must physically appear in court along with the attorney.

Just had a couple of lightning strikes in the park and one of them pretty much blew up a large sycamore tree. By pure dumb luck none of the branches or the trunk hit a home. The manager’s job in this case would be to send me some photos of the situation, pull aside any branches that are in the way and be there when the tree people showed up to cut it down. Events like these are (thankfully) rare but someone has to be there in-person to deal with them.

The place runs, for the most part, on auto pilot but there are always going to be a few situations where a physical presence is necessary.

Another big reason for letting the residents contact me is feedback on the manager. Suppose he turns out to be causing more problems than he solves. How else would I know unless people can tell me?


Wheat Hill

Post Edited (08-31-11 08:59)