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Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been pressed to hire someone to fill the key role? And without fail it is never at the right time. Is there such a thing as good timing when it comes to filling a key role? Or any role for that matter?
As Multifamily providers, we have all been there. And we’ve all acted too swiftly at times.
Do you want to know why we do that?
Simply put; we ignore our gut. And I’m not talking about that little bit of waistline that you wish you can get rid of with a bit of exercise and healthy eating.
No I am talking about that deep-seated innate feeling you get when something is amiss.
I’m talking about intuition. But we have a problem.
There are two things working against our ability to tap into intuition today;
1. There is so much noise in the world today and that makes it very hard to listen to your intuition much less trust it.
2. Multifamily starts. That is to suggest that as more and more units get built in the marketplace; the more opportunity presents itself for Multifamily Talent.
Both present very strong headwinds as we head into the next 3 to 5 years.
Keep your gut strong.
You’re being mindful of intuition Multifamily Maniac,
The National Weather Service tracks indicators of hurricanes, tornadoes, major storm systems, and other weather-related events using an intricate process that assesses meteorologic conditions and storm progression. Radar images, alive with motion, show developments in vibrant color, informing and encouraging the populace to prepare.
Early Warning Systems are critical to providing people with the lead time to safeguard their homes and businesses against potential damage. As situations progress to imminent danger, Emergency Warning Alert signals are broadcast through television, wireless, and weather apps in the affected areas, warning people to take cover and get to safety immediately.
The global pandemic has created conditions in several sectors that coalesce into an early warning system related to labor. Members of the medical profession have been on the front lines of this crisis since its inception and the toll is well past the early warning stage. Medical workers report burnout and many are leaving the profession entirely. So much so, that it is fair to say the medical labor situation is in a full-blown emergency. It wasn’t hard to see this one coming, but the solutions are much more complex.
Another sector in distress is the tech industry, where workers report chronic burnout, limited career progression, and unrealistic demands. According to research by TalentLMS and Workable, nearly three-quarters of tech and IT workers surveyed report that they intend to quit within the year. IT workers keep all the systems of our world functioning, and they were then tasked with immediately transforming physical workplaces into remote work without the lead time they needed, and they did it beautifully. So much so that we failed to recognize the toll it was taking.
We called them heroes – these people who worked beyond their capacity for months on end with no relief in sight. The flip side of ‘hero’ is a human whose life is out of balance, who is forgoing personal care and investment in relationships. The novelty of heroism has worn off. It doesn’t compensate for exhaustion, personal sacrifice, and frankly, lack of compensation for the extraordinary effort.
Small Signs of Big Trouble
In the multifamily space, we need to consider our early warning systems when it comes to team member burnout. Manager relationships, smart listening, and intentional connectivity are some internal tools to detect early signs of disengagement. The manager/team member relationship is of prime importance to employee engagement, but it only works when the manager is fully aligned with the cultural values of the organization. Every leader needs to have their ears attuned to any small comment that could indicate a bigger problem. Remarks that reveal dissatisfaction can masquerade as sarcasm, or complaints about extreme ‘busyness’, or even dark humor. Those types of comments should tickle the ear of the listener and encourage a quick check-in – something like, “Hey, sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate. I want to check in with you. What can I do to relieve the pressure and help you get your balance back?” Those soft small check-ins are a huge tool in the effort to create harmony between stated core values and the team member’s experience of your company culture.
One of our Collective Conversations featured Jen Piccotti with Swift Bunny, a company that offers feedback, insights, and actionable plans that serve as an early warning system for employee satisfaction. The Swift Bunny system gives a line of sight into team member engagement and provides leading indicators of potential turnover risks. Retaining talent has always been a priority, but in a tight labor market, it is all too easy to shift attention towards attracting and hiring new people to fill vacant seats. Existing team members need and deserve recognition, support, and appropriate compensation. Neglecting your current team is a sure path to more employee turnover.
Many companies employ an Exit Interview process to help them learn from soon-to-be-former employees. A far more innovative and useful early warning system is the Stay Interview. The stay interview is a periodically scheduled conversation between a manager and a team member designed to learn the drivers that keep an employee on board and to suss out opportunities for company improvement. Consider the stay interview as a performance review for the company, not the employee. What should we keep doing? Stop doing? Do better?
Stay interviews work best in companies that value trust and candor, and where the stay interview is a safe space to speak honestly without fear of negative consequences. Managers should come prepared to ask meaningful questions, seeking to build trust with and accept constructive feedback from the team member.
There are some indicators of late-stage disengagement. When an otherwise communicative team member goes silent. Or when a regular PTO pattern changes abruptly. By then it may be too late. Once an employee decides to interview with other companies, you’ve lost them. While you can try your best to overturn that decision or offer incentives to stay, the immediate-, mid-, and long-term success rate for that hail Mary play is low.
What are your early warning systems when it comes to talent?
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Just over a decade ago, I wrote this post about the need for savvy operators to build brand loyalty with their residents because of the impact the great recession would have on apartment occupancy. Today’s battle for market share is all about talent. Companies are fighting to fill the holes in their teams with the best available people. Facing a tight employment market where recruiting is becoming more difficult, it is time to fine-tune your culture. When everything else is the same – wages, benefits, etc. – culture is the tiebreaker. Smart job seekers know this, and it is critical that your culture stands out. Be vigilant about course-correcting any cultural dissonance. Your existing team and your future team are holding you accountable for it.
Swipe Right for Culture
Now is the time for innovations in recruitment and hiring. Potential candidates speed date through the endless options for employment and if you want to be the company that causes them to swipe right, you need to think in terms of the team member experience and how you ensure that your company lives up to the hype.
Zero to Ten – Where is your pain level?
Every company has some form of financial review process. It is an important measure of business health. I encourage you to add a cultural review to your routine. Ask good questions. Listen thoughtfully to responses. What is the story behind the story? Where are the cultural pain points and what can you do to relieve them? What is the temperature of your current team members? How connected are they to your culture?
The current employment market is not a call to hire whoever you can get. Top talent is still available and those are the people you want to attract. Avoid the panic hire – the one that you knew in your gut wasn’t the right fit for the position or the company. That path leads to an inevitable painful exit which further tarnishes the opportunity for brand loyalty. It isn’t fair to anyone and shakes the confidence of your team.
I don’t have a magic wand to produce key talent in this unusual market. But I do know that it is my job to ensure that our culture is healthy. It is the sort of work that is harder to quantify but it pays the biggest dividends in the end. My parents’ generation favored the stability of lifelong careers at one company. Workers today are less afraid of uncertainty and want to do work that feeds their spirits and their bank accounts. Passion is the name of the game. You don’t have to change everything about your culture, but you do need your company to be who you say you are.
What are you doing to ensure your culture delivers on your brand promises?
In this episode, we talk about the importance of hiring outside of your comfort zone.
Location, Location, Location – real estate types know this aphorism better than most. It’s the key to any good transaction. Always buy property with your exit strategy in mind and location for certain is part of that thought process. But don’t forget about the equally if not more important piece of the equation.
People People People
As Mills Properties journeys down the road of Scaling Up; we are becoming more and more aware of having the right people in the right positions doing the right things. Not unlike purchasing property with the end in mind; it’s critical to hire and train the right people. Also, with a distant time in mind.
Hire For Attitude
A number of years ago – too many to count – I had the awesome pleasure of working for Equity Residential Properties. A company and people I will forever hold in esteem. They have a real penchant for hiring right. Their mantra at the time, hire for attitude and train for skill, governed the overall sourcing and hiring process. It worked.
Hire For Character
But I think hiring for character is a much more powerful governor than attitude. While attitude covers a person’s way of behaving; I think it’s easily rocked and completely open to the winds of change. Not a bad thing; just a bit less stable for what I believe is a keystone to business success. Whereas character is a much deeper sense of self as governed by a solid moral center; it is less affected by the downsides of adversity and the upsides of awesomeness.
The keystone message: hire for character, train for character and coach out for lack of character.
Your looking forward to scaling up multifamily maniac,