By Tanya AdairFrom the applicant search to the interviews to the job offer, hiring quality property managers is no small task. Recruiting solid employees takes time and hard work. One of the best ways to retain good property managers once they’re hired is to provide valuable training.Dominium Management Services (DMS), a privately owned apartment management firm, has found that providing outstanding development and educational opportunities creates a superior staff. Through its onsite training facility, Dominium University, DMS offers standardized introductory classes to newly hired property managers and advanced classes to longer-term managers. Dominium University also helps ensure each employee receives similar training, which facilitates consistent performance and management practices.Dominium University is unique in that experienced and successful managers pass on their first-hand experience to newer managers. Classes of 10-15 employees are taught by various DMS employees, from the COO to the vice president of human resources and administration to the vice president of property management. This allows for new managers to learn directly from the DMS expert on any given topic. The cornerstone course of Dominium University is “New Community Manager Orientation,” a week-long training for new managers. The class was created based on the needs of all new property managers, whether they are new to the property management industry or simply new to DMS. New managers attend this orientation within three months of beginning their position. Each day of “New Community Manager Orientation” focuses on a different area of knowledge and enlists a different department within DMS to teach. Topics covered during the couorse include: expectations of managers, legal topics, marketing, leasing, preventative maintenance, IT and accounting. The week concludes with a graduation ceremony where managers receive a diploma from Dominium President and COO Jon Segner.Classes held during this community manager orientation are more than lectures. Each session consists of multiple learning activities that require participant involvement. For example, the session about human resources leads managers through a payroll exercise, mock interviewing and resume review, and sample disciplinary actions. By implementing group activities into training, property managers can practice what they will be expected to know in their new position. On the last day of training, there’s an actual graduation ceremony for Dominium University property mangers. They dress in a graduation cap, march to “Pomp & Circumstance” and receive a diploma from Dominium’s president and COO.Training does not cease when “New Community Manager Orientation” concludes. Dominium University offers ongoing training for property mangers to continue to develop and sharpen their skills. Courses for longer-term managers range from one day to a few hours, and focus on building advanced skills in specialized areas. To save mangers’ time and travel costs, Dominium University can also take its advanced training classes “on the road.” Regional managers can request specific training courses and instructors from Dominium University can travel to mangers to conduct training sessions. Dominium University is beneficial to new managers because it provides an opportunity for them to meet DMS site and corporate employees with whom they will interact on a weekly basis. Property managers work together regularly with DMS corporate employees, and managers value getting to know the people they’ll count on for support. The group atmosphere also helps new managers who may feel overwhelmed to realize there are many people they can turn to for guidance. Dominium University also benefits employees looking to grow their careers because it provides training that prepares them for opportunities to be promoted.Most management firms consider their most valuable resource to be their employees. One way to hold on to that resource is to support the growth of employees. This is best accomplished by providing meaningful educational and training opportunities for managers to continually hone their skills. Dominium is a Minneapolis-based owner, developer and manager of apartment communities nationwide. Tanya Adair is vice president of human resources and administration at Dominium and oversees the company’s human resources, payroll and administrative support functions. Adair joined Dominium in 2007.
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