Best Practices for recruiting staff and retaining clients.
By Catherine Smith, PCAM, CMCA, AMS
Picture your ideal workspace. Are you in an environment with bosses that encourage you, employees that motivate you, working in the best interest of your clients? No? Well, why not?
For many community association management professionals, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and do things the same way they have always been done. Changing industry norms can be a challenge but it’s essential to recruiting and retaining staff and clients.
Culture is defined as the customs, social institutions, and achievements of a nation, people, or other social groups. It’s important to define your company’s culture. A company’s culture establishes the base, the foundation, for everything it does. It is so important to know the company culture, when considering how to recruit employees and clients and when talk about retaining these critical assets. If your company doesn’t have a defined culture, where employees know what goals they are working toward, it will not attract like-minded employees or clients.
To understand or improve a company’s culture, it’s essential for the leadership team to create a vision statement or short phrase describing the long-term vision and strategic goals employees are working toward. Next create a mission statement. Typically, this should be one sentence describing why your company is in this industry. The next step is to write a value statement. This is a declaration that is shared with clients and staff about the organization’s top priorities and core beliefs.
Completing and implementing these statements will help the leadership team envision and create an ideal work environment. This requires defining the type of environment and culture the company will provide to attract the best talent and clients. The culture of the company effects every aspect of the work environment.
Now, the leadership team can define its ideal employees and how they will be recruited. It’s important to be specific and make the job postings stand out. Make the defined culture bleed into every aspect of the hiring and training process. Clearly define your initial and ongoing training and ensure everyone knows what is expected from their job performance.
To avoid employee burnout, the leadership team should agree to charge rates that allow managers to make living wages and to base portfolios or workloads on a 40-hour work week. Doing away with evening meetings also is recommended to recruit and retain ideal employees.
Next, everyone must be involved to define the ideal client. First, decide if the client will be a good fit by determining if they share your company culture. Make sure you are asking the right questions and setting clear expectations up front, to avoid adversarial relationships. Never compromise core company values to take on a new client. Additionally, define clear scopes of work, for fixed prices. Above all, ensure employees know their limits, and say no when they don’t have the right resources to take on new clients.
To retain clients, it’s advised to survey them often—keep these short and to the point. Additionally, hold townhall meetings separate from annual meetings, to find out what’s working and what’s not, in the community. Best practices include establishing clear and concise written standards and be willing to enforce them. It never hurts to praise board members when they do exceptional work, but don’t be afraid of having tough conversations if the situation warrants it.
Encourage the leadership team to look at every aspect of the business and rethink what is working well and what needs to change. Define the company’s culture and vision, hire the best and the brightest talent, and work with clients who will help the company achieve its strategic goals. Most importantly, never compromise the company’s core culture or values.
Catherine Smith, PCAM, CMCA, AMS, is COO at Aperion Management Group Aperion Management Group in Oregon.