Real Estate / Property Management Employee HandbookIt can be difficult to adapt to any new job but for the unlicensed (and even licensed) new hire, it can be daunting to enter the world of property management and/or your company. When you are immersed in the business, it is very easy to forget that it is quite a different kettle of fish from many occupations. The newest member of your team must learn new procedures, handle frustrated clientele, put out fires, and know when not to overstep assigned duties or authority. It can be a tricky balancing act.

Too often, new receptionists or administrative assistants are easily discouraged within a short period of time. There are many steps business owners can take to help them and these same steps will also help evaluate their progress and suitability to the company.

It can take valuable time, money, and effort to procure a suitable person for the position available. After the hiring process ends, many business owners and managers often feel their work is done. With this attitude, they fail to properly introduce personnel into their new workplace.

Prepare the necessary paperwork before the new hire begins. Don’t wait until the new employee or independent contractor is onboard a few days before you organize and implement the proper documents. Some of the following may seem unnecessary but if you think about it, what better way to lay out your expectations than by introducing them to important documents, such as the confidentiality agreement, the key/alarm agreement, and even the vacation/leave request forms. Here are important documents to have ready.

  • A thorough employee or independent contractor agreement.
  • A detailed job description but not one with too many limitations
  • The proper government requirements, such as an I-9, W-2, W4, 1099, and more (what documents are necessary depends on the status of the new hire)
  • A complete personnel information sheet – obtain as much information as possible
  • Company confidentiality agreement – this is a must-do to protect your company
  • Email/Internet/social media agreements – another must-do
  • Key/alarm agreement – don’t leave the security of your business to chance, particularly if the new hire leaves in a less than satisfactory manner
  • Company Employee Manual (if applicable) – check your state to see if required
  • Company Policy and Procedures Manuals – what better documents to have ready for training someone on how your company operates
  • Necessary acknowledgment forms for various manuals – these are valuable documents
  • Expense/travel reimbursement forms (if applicable)
  • Vacation/leave request form – let them know the company expectations immediately
  • Any other necessary documentation that will help introduce them to your company procedures

Set up the new hire’s personnel file immediately and securely. Remember, with identity theft at an all-time high, protecting their information is a valuable risk management practice.

Don’t leave the new hire orientation to chance. In our business as people enter their new workplace things are rarely calm. However, if you have prepared properly, you can juggle all the balls to cover the steps necessary to orient the newest member of your team. Enlist staff members when necessary or appropriate to assist you.

  • Immediately review their job description in detail. Sure, the job description was discussed when the interview process took place. However, just like property owners, and tenants, this is new to them and they may have only absorbed 50% of the information. Ask them to express their questions and concerns. This may give insight on how they will adapt to their new position.
  • Review the contract. It is truly important to obtain both “understanding” of the contract and the necessary signatures and initials at the very beginning. If you are delegating this important task to a team member, be sure they can handle the job competently and have the legal authority to execute the contract on the company’s behalf.
  • Be clear about any probation period and performance reviews. These policies should be outlined in your contract but it is important to discuss them.
  • Discuss frankly and openly with the new hire what they are “not-to-do.” This is a step that is often missed by owners and managers. There is nothing more dangerous in the property management business than a non-licensee conducting business that should only be performed by licensed personnel.
  • Do not miss covering the antitrust laws as it relates to your business. Even licensed personnel are often too uninformed when it comes to this important legislation.
  • Let them know who their “go-to” person or persons are so they know who to talk to when they are confused or unsure. They need to know how they can express their frustrations or how to find answers to their questions

Immediately put a training program in place.

  • Make reading the company Employee Manual (if applicable) and the Policy and Procedures Manual and signing the acknowledgements an absolute requirement the very first day.
  • Encourage them to give you feedback on what they do not understand (they may give you insights on what should be updated in your manuals).
  • Have new personnel take “tests” on the manuals after they have read them. This can be very helpful when training the new hire.
  • Have a training plan for their first 1-4 weeks, depending on their experience and follow-up weekly; meet with them to discuss their progress.
  • Introduce them to your property management systems and make them part of “the team.” Review the Employee Manual and the Policy and Procedures Manual 4-6 weeks after their start date. This is also an area many owners and/or managers never readdress. Like the interview process, they are only able to absorb so much in the beginning. After a few weeks, they will have a better understanding of their role and re-reading the manuals can only help them.
  • Address important issues in company meetings and require their attendance.

Set up a system to monitor their progress.

Don’t wait until their problems escalate either causing them to perform actions which are harmful to the company or walk out the door in frustration. You could lose a valuable new hire by ignoring this step.

Encourage them to talk freely or express their confusion over procedures, problems interacting with other employees, or concerns about their job.

There is more work when you have a new member of your team but making the time and effort to set them up properly will increases your chances of success in this endeavor. If the new hire is not a success, be prepared to terminate them quickly and efficiently (another topic for another issue).

Jean Storms - Owner and Author of LandlordSource ProductsJean Storms, MPM® is the founder/author of LandlordSource and has been a NARPM® member since January 1993.

Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.