Who Will Follow? Lori Burger

An excerpt from a recent column for NREI by Lori Burger, 2015 IREM President

As I pass the presidential reins of IREM to Christopher Mellen, CPM, thoughts of succession come to mind.

Leadership that changes every year can imply chaos. Actually, continuity within IREM is assured by two constants: A permanent professional staff and a strategic plan, a living document that can both guide the activities of leadership while allowing for market-driven change and provide flexibility enough for the personality and interests of each succeeding president to shine through. So it is an appropriate time to ask: What is your succession plan? Who is next in line to take the helm at your company? What is the contingency plan if someone should leave for greener pastures or, God forbid, pass away?

Succession is more than policy and procedures. And it should never be a last-minute exercise, but rather should be the natural (to the extent that anything in business can be natural) result of a unified, coherent culture, built on years of team-building. It is the result of gradual growth, one of training and expectation; of setting clear, achievable goals and careful analysis of performance metrics and then letting the strongest performers rise to the top.

And here is the biggest challenge. It is also the result of letting go. There can be no room in a successful succession plan for micro-management.

I believe that even in today’s more corporate environments, too much of these forward-thinking concepts are regulated to the second tier of priorities. There are always more immediate needs and fires to douse, and it’s always easier to just do it all yourself. Ultimately, a position such as that only stifles the true talent that might be in your midst.

With that in mind, a few questions come up that you might want to ask yourself:

  • Are you grooming intrepreneurs?
  • Are goals and expectations clearly spelled out?
  • Who do you trust, and if you cannot point to every member of your team, why not?
  • Are job descriptions and reporting structures absolutely clear?
  • Are you grappling with heavy turnover? If so, why is that?
  • Do you offer, or at least encourage, ongoing education to sharpen the skills of all team members?

Succession planning is a process, not just a choice. It’s a years-long application of best management practices. And quite literally, if done properly, it will pay dividends for generations to come.

So, to paraphrase a popular advertising slogan: What’s in your succession plan?

Check out the full article for tips on succession planning.

About the Author
Lori Burger, CPM, PCAM, CCAM, CAM, is the 2015 President of the Institute of Real Estate Management. She is also a Senior Vice President and Director of Eugene Burger Management Corporation (EBMC), AMO, headquartered in Rohnert Park, CA, whose portfolio consists of more than 6,500 residential units, 20,000 association homes, and 2 million square feet of commercial retail, office and industrial space.


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