Article: Standards database fosters team success

Has a client ever had a Jekyll and Hyde experience when dealing with your organization? Has one of your staff ever struggled to solve a problem while the guy in the next cube had the answer? For a real estate organization to succeed in a competitive market, the team must be efficient and consistently effective. With a client-relationship driven business model, team cohesion, and excellent performance are key in delivering on your mission statement.

There is one vehicle that has the flexibility and utility to respond to those organizational and performance demands. This vehicle can foster the cultural values of an organization. It involves everyone in the mission of the group and in interaction with the team. It promotes dialogue and teaching to improve the efficiency of the organization. It provides an objective yardstick to measure performance. It allows consistent dissemination of best practices and information on new issues. For marketing services to clients, it is a manifestation of quality assurance, of the expertise and pro-activity of the team and of the consistency of the service at all levels. What is this paragon of organizational virtue? It is an electronic database for Standards and Systems.

A body of information, comprising competencies, performance norms, standard processes, and best practices, provides broad support for the goals of the organization. Written in the context of the organization’s mission statement, the information supports the corporate culture by reinforcing the values vital to the organization’s success. When the technical and non-technical competencies represent the consensus opinion of senior management as to what is required to succeed in a given position, they are in themselves an expression of the culture of the organization. Given the need to think strategically while keeping a focus on the execution of fundamentals, the team’s opportunities to participate in interactions that promote the corporate culture can be few and far between. With management staff on the road or located at various sites, the opportunities are limited to pre-programmed events. The regional supervisor’s site visit can become the most visible representation of the culture to team members. The database supplies the specific expectations of the company for the employee. Emphasis of “citizenship” and “client relationship” standards express the company’s focus on the way in which business is done. The standards can make plain how to maintain the long-term relationship with the client.

A Tech Tool for Teamwork
A Standards and Systems database has advantages for both managers and reports. Assimilation of new staff members and continued participation of existing staff members is essential to the cohesion of your team. During periods of intense change, people’s need for connection and stability is all the greater. The database allows all members of the team to come together to develop and promulgate the team’s standards. By encouraging input from the people practicing management everyday, team interaction grows and the group makes the database realistic and useful. A two-step flow of communication evolves wherein the cultural values of the group influence individuals and the good ideas and experience of the individuals influence the group culture.

By centralizing all the sanctioned information in one easily accessible place, all staff members can obtain the best materials without wasted time and variations in quality. The database also allows the least experienced staff direct access to the knowledge of the most experienced staff with a minimal initial investment of time by senior people. The database often provokes questions and presents opportunities for a manager and a team to interact. When someone is unsure of the direction being provided by the database, it presents an opportunity for a manager or a peer to explain a process or a skill set. This, in turn, improves the efficiency of the team and reinforces the organizations support for career development.

The information in the database is a toll for objective evaluation; either by the team member of his or her own status or by a manager of a team member. When employees wish to advance their career, they can review the job description and competencies of a more advanced position and begin to acquire the knowledge and experience required. By using the database as the basis for frank communication on expectations and progress, managers and employees can arrive at a mutually agreeable personal development plan and timetable. With information in the database that has the broad support of the organization, the subjectivity of a performance review is reduced.

Database System Encourages Best Practices
Encouraging all staff members to share their experiences and insights on topical issues produces information that can influence the best practices of the company and the industry. Utility deregulation, forced telecomm access, constant technological advance, tenant credit and security issues have all required managers to acquire specialized knowledge and evolve new practices in the last few years alone. A well-established electronic database to distribute this new information to the entire team will ensure quick and accurate adaptation to new circumstances. In fact, the database provides a vehicle for efficient distribution of all kinds of information to all members of the team simultaneously.

The combination of the information in the database and the way the company uses it to promote its mission with its personnel is a powerful sales tool. Many organizations give lip service to the ideals of quality throughout the organization but too often the expertise is vested in an individual practitioner. To be able to demonstrate to a prospective client the tools the organization uses to promote quality and the process for developing and retaining a talented team is a very powerful sales technique. The management team that is presented to the client will be the best example of the effectiveness of the Standards and Systems database.

An electronic database for competencies and standards generates clear communication of expectations and support in performance. These, in turn, bring improvements in efficiency, a sense of purpose, greater accomplishment and, yes, even employee loyalty. A team with these attributes can consistently exceed a client’s expectations. #

-Richard Horgan, CPM, CCIM

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