Training and Development Matter in Any Market
By Katie Wrenn, CAPS
WRH Realty Services Inc.
2020 got off to a rousing start in the multifamily industry, following a strong 2019. Steady construction, a strong housing marketing, and low unemployment rates defined the beginning of the year. In January, the national unemployment rate was 3.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In December 2019, the bureau reported, Florida boasted a 3% unemployment rate — the 14th lowest in the nation.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a spike in unemployment and challenges across the state’s economy. The health and safety of our residents, our teams, and our communities took center stage.
While there are too many unknowns to predict how the apartment industry will be affected long-term, the time will come for us to refocus on recruiting new talent to the industry and retaining multifamily veterans. To do that, we’ll need to make training available from day one of employment and provide ongoing development opportunities.
Like many of you, when I joined the multifamily industry while I was in college, I had no idea this part-time job would launch my career. I majored in business management with a concentration in marketing, which was a great fit for the leasing role that I took on. I remember my first leasing class, which ignited my passion for training. I quickly stepped into a full-time position, worked my way up to a property manager, and then followed my passion into a training role. Today, I am proud to be director of training and development for WRH Realty Services Inc. Looking back, two things shaped my buy-in to the industry: a manager who believed in me and wanted to teach me everything that she knew, and the inspiration that came from my first training class.
Perhaps the recent crisis helped motivate you to take the next step in your career, maybe even to change direction. Whatever your goals, it’s important to never stop learning. Raise your hand and make sure those surrounding you professionally know what you want in your career. Look for ways to develop yourself, even if that means taking nontraditional paths. Take advantage of the professional networking and education that your local apartment association and the Florida Apartment Association offer. When you know what you aspire to be, find a person in a similar position and ask them to mentor you.
If you are leading a team, in addition to committing to your own ongoing learning, give your team members opportunities to grow. After all, the more knowledge they have, the more confident and successful they will be. Opportunities for development communicate to employees that they are valued. Confident, successful, and valued employees are more likely to stay with the organization that is helping them feel this way. Learning can be through traditional degree and credentialing programs, but sometimes the most effective learning comes from job shadowing, mentoring, articles, videos, or just taking interest in the employee’s career path.
I challenge you to continually recruit and educate others about our industry and the opportunities available. Pay attention to the career paths of your team members, and look for ways to support them in their professional growth. Set clear goals, and periodically review your training and development plans. This is no small task, but the benefits to your team members, yourself, and your organization will be worth it.