People management in a property partnership is one of the topics addressed in the “Managing and marketing a profitable property partnership” training session I deliver periodically for MBL seminars The course is based on the book “Growing your property partnership”

At each session, I ask what delegates would like as a follow-up reminder note from the course. This time they asked about people management as we had discussed various topics under this banner. So I have summarised the main themes that caught the imagination of firms who currently do not have the benefit of internal human resource professionals. 


There was an animated discussion about new and different routes into the profession. Some of the delegates reported a high degree of success with apprenticeships. However, there was continued concern about the lack of diversity in the property profession – their view was that women and ethnic minorities are still seriously underrepresented. A number of interesting ideas on how to address the issue were discussed – most around culture change and flexible working.

Understanding difference

We considered a number of commercially-available personality and other psychological assessment tools that could support the recruitment and promotion processes as well as help in situations where there were personality clashes and/or team dynamic problems. See, for example,

Managing Millennials

While generational issues have also existed within the property industry, there was concern about the rather different aspirations and values of Millennials. We considered research that indicated different approaches to the management of Millennials – particularly with regards to feedback, work-life balance, reward, career aspirations and social responsibility. 

Training (Learning and Development)

While most firms had arrangements in place to take care of professional technical training (such as those for Continuing Professional Education), training for things such as technology use (especially social media), interpersonal skills, team working, delegation, client service and all aspects of business development (marketing, selling and relationship management) were often not covered.

Firms discussed a variety of solutions including mentoring, shadowing, e-learning, outsourcing and sharing training resources. 

Performance management 

The challenges of managing the performance of those who were either significantly over-achieving or those under-achieving were discussed. The task-team-individual model (Adair) was considered. The need for clarity in job descriptions, clear goals, regular feedback and communicating performance expectations (and the link to reward) was debated. 

Goal alignment

Whilst some practices had Investors in People and similar awards, there was a recognition that in many cases there was little integration and alignment between the goals and strategy of the partnership overall and the various departments and the goals of individual surveyors or agents. Of course, there was recognition that in some instances this was the result of a lack of goals and strategy for the partnership overall!

Not only did this lack of goal alignment make it difficult for performance appraisal, but it meant that it was challenging to motivate professional and support staff to act in a united way to achieve the firm’s objectives.

Allocation of non-chargeable time

Many firms admitted that they gave their surveying and agency staff financial and chargeable time targets. Yet they were disappointed when staff focused on achieving these goals to the exclusion of everything else. So we looked at how goals might be set to encourage the sort of business development and client relationship management behaviours required to grow the business.

A key issue for those who focus on measuring chargeable hours was to consider targets for specific non-chargeable time activities such as marketing, selling and account management.


While many are satisfied with their financial reward systems, there was discussion about the other approaches to motivation. We touched on Nancy Kline’s views on appreciative focus and the need for frequent positive feedback to provide recognition and build confidence. We also talked about the need for professional and support staff to be involved in the planning and management process and empowered to take responsibility. Effective delegation of the outcome – rather than just the process – was considered.


Reward systems and career development programmes (particularly communication about the criteria and timescales for promotion) were considered. The use of internal surveys of staff satisfaction, participation in programmes such as “Best companies to work for” and employee boards were mentioned. There was a short discussion about effective stress management


The role of partners as stewards of the practice still holds for many smaller firms. And it was recognised that the very same skills that made great founding partners were the ones that might work against trying to develop and encourage the next generation of leaders. The following blog covers some of the main points discussed:

Change management

This topic arose at the previous training session for surveyors (see and again there was much debate about how to promote individual and organisational change. I drew attention to the excellent book on the topic called “Switch”


A huge topic in its own right, we considered different leadership development programmes and the various skill sets required by leaders. We spent some time considering the model by Dr Peter Fuda