Amid all the talent management challenges of 2020 — the break-neck switch to telework, the cancelled conferences and professional development events, the derailed internships, stalled recruiting
programs and uncertain future staffing needs — some CRE firms are seizing upon a few significant opportunities.

Once staff at CBRE settled into mid-pandemic work routines, managers began encouraging their teams to spend some time advancing their skills by taking courses in the company’s training platform, Talent Coach, and attending professional development webinars in CBRE MidAtlantic’s Know and Grow Series. At the same time, staff began mastering COVID-related work skills, such as delivering group presentations via Zoom and guiding potential clients through digital 3D models of properties on virtual tours.

That work yielded some unexpected discoveries.

In the altered work environment, “we looked at our employees in a different light…and we discovered some diamonds in the rough,” said Timothy Zulick, Senior Managing Director at CBRE. “The situation gave us a view of individuals that maybe we didn’t have as much contact with before. In some cases, you realized that I had never really thought of that person for this position before, but I like the way they handle themselves.”

Some employees who had never excelled in presentations previously, delivered stand-out performances online. Others were remarkably proactive and creative in adapting to new work challenges.

“It made us look deeply at our staff and think about what are we doing right, what talent are we lacking, what positions do we need to fill differently and how can we think a little more outside the box and become a little smarter in what we do,” Zulick said.

That process has already resulted in new coaching for some employees and is creating new opportunities for professional development among CBRE staff and new opportunities to optimize CBRE’s talent pool, he said.

At Lee & Associates/Maryland, company leaders are refining plans to make the most of recruiting opportunities in the current economy.

“We are already hearing talks of potential consolidations between some larger, publicly-traded nationals. That would lead to some personnel fallout…In the near future, you likely will also see some companies
reducing expenses. That will mean less services and support for brokers, and that doesn’t sit well with people,” said Allan Riorda, President/Principal.

Those developments, he said, “present a recruitment opportunity to us.”

Consequently, company executives are reviewing their staffing needs and recruiting practices. That includes reinforcing elements of corporate culture that differentiate the company from its competitors.

“We try to treat our people as individuals, not as a herd of salespeople,” Riorda said.

That includes tailoring benefits to the circumstances of individuals employees, such as a health insurance option or an adjusted split during the transition period. “We also would never intentionally create any type of competitive environment among people in the same discipline because that is like cancer in a brokerage operation,” Riorda said

Company executives, however, plan to maintain a conservative approach to recruiting even if larger numbers of experienced CRE professionals become available.

“We are very selective about the people we elect to bring into the organization,” Riorda said. “Someone can be a significant producer but could create significant disruption within the office… We are more
interested in successful people who can fit in and thrive in our environment and culture.”