Employee Empowerment: High-Performance Companies Link Business Objectives to People Practices. (Spotlight)

Article excerpt

Everyone in commercial real estate knows the key to maximizing occupancy and profitability is offering prime locations with clean space and amenities at a competitive price. But with rising vacancies, rents trending downward and customers demanding more than ever, is this really enough to ensure success?

Probably not. Beyond the fundamentals, competitive advantage lies squarely in our ability to attract, develop and retain top employee talent. After all, at the end of the day, ours is a service business, dependent upon building longterm relationships with our customers.

In today's highly competitive marketplace, HR professionals and property managers must ensure their companies' "people practices" are designed to give employees the skills, tools and motivation to win everyday. Property managers must be able to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of customers in a very difficult and competitive marketplace. Moreover, highly trained, motivated and responsive customer service representatives, security professionals and property management teams are critical to exceeding customers' expectations and maintaining a company's competitive edge.

In order for these "people practices" to be successful, they must be developed in full alignment with the organixation's overall business objectives. Yet, many companies overlook this vital connection. According to a recent survey of HR executives by the Saratoga Institute, only 55 percent felt they did even an adequate job of linking compensation and benefits to their companies' strategies.

Creating the Vision

How can real estate HR professionals and property managers go about linking their "people programs to their companies' overall business objectives? While every organization is different, the following check list is a good tool to use:

* Understand your organization's business strategy. Assess what your organization wants to accomplish in the next three to five years in terms of financial performance, growth, market share, company culture and operating strategy. If there isn't a strategic business plan to review, this step can be accomplished through a series of interviews with senior management, employee focus groups and analysis of key data.

* Determine HR's role in supporting the business strategy Draft a forward-thinking vision statement incorporating your company's business objectives and values, as well as its desired culture and attitudes toward employees. At Equity Office, we created a five-pronged approach to ensuring HR's role supported the company's business strategy:

* Function in a collaborative way as forward-thinking business partners within Equity Office to create a competitive advantage.

* Champion the building of a culture that enables the company to win in the real estate marketplace.

* Align human capital investments, programs and services to the business and people strategy.

* Be recognized as a high-performing team delivering results that enhance the organization's value.

* Ensure Equity Office attracts, retains and develops superior employee talent.

* Understand what employees feel they need in order to be successful. Seek direct input from employees from different geographic locations and job categories to find our what tools, information and training they believe they need to be successful.

* Identify and communicate the key employee behaviors required to achieve company goals. Analyze and determine what competencies you expect from your people to enable your organization to achieve its business objectives. Is improved responsiveness an attribute you want to develop? Is our-of-the-box thinking another? Once you identify these competencies, let employees, managers and senior leaders of the company know what you expect from them. Build these competencies into every employee's performance review process. Be as specific as possible and consider different roles people play within the organization. …