Magazine article Journal of Property Management

You Are What You Know: Case Studies in Employee Training

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

You Are What You Know: Case Studies in Employee Training

Article excerpt

For some property management firms, training is mostly a matter of learning the few years ways a particular company differs from the norm. These firms generally hire only experienced property managers, show them the specifics of their operation, then let the new hires work on their own.

For other management firms, however, training means a defined series of courses, seminars, and research, augmented by on-site work and learning opportunities.

The following case studies show how firms of varying sizes and capabilities use training to position themselves competitively in today's real estate market. The common element that runs through these studies is the necessity for judicious hiring as a prelude to sound training.

Case study 1: The mentor

Learning from a knowledge senior person is a time-honored training method, one that forms the basis of the program for JMB Realty, Chicago.

JMB's training associates spend 12 to 18 months working on-site under the supervision of a property manager/mentor. During this period, trainees research and write a series of five report modules on various aspects of property management. Topics include property orientation and company overview, administration and finance, property operations (e.g., security, maintenance, landscaping, engineering), leasing and marketing, and a special project unique to the property at which the associate is being trained.

Module topics are the same among the various types of properties, but the objectives of each module must be specific to that property type. "Although leasing and marketing are necessary for both office and retail properties, the techniques and approach are different for each," says Greg Greenberg, director of education at JMB Properties.

Associates must analyze each topic in relation to industry practice and JMB philosophy, and their reports must reflect each associate's research as well as their on-the-job experience.

JMB management associates may spend anywhere from two to five months researching and writing each module. The company does not mandate the length of the final product. "Our primary concern," says Greenberg," "is that the report demonstrate the associate's knowledge and comfort level with the subject."

Report are reviewed by the associate's supervisors and then routed to Education Director Greenberg for final review He says: "This combination of hands-on experience, research, and writing gives our trainees as grasp of the basics of property management as well as an understanding of the JMB philosophy. And of course, to comply with the objectives of each report module, trainees must be involved in day-to-day tasks."

Greenberg explains that the relationship between management associates and their supervisors is enriching for both. "Property managers are complimented when we place an associate with them. We assign associates only at properties where there are challenges and a wealth of knowledge among the staff."

Assignments also are chosen to complement a trainee's area of interest and the company's assessment of their strengths and weaknesses.

"In almost every case, our placement assessment correlates with where the management associates wants to be," relates Greenberg. "This tells us that our interviewing and placement process is on target."

The company looks for a certain type of property manager to serve as a supervisors/mentor. "We want people who know the industry and our company's way of doing things. While these associates take from their supervisors, they also give back a great deal in the form of practical assistance and a fresh perspective."

Greenberg says the only resistance to the associate/superior training program comes when the trainees are ready for placement at another property. "The supervisors usually doesn't want to relinquish the associate who has brought so much to the training experience. …

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