People, capabilities, and structure – pillars in your property function

We have explored financial management and data/systems management being the foundational capabilities in your property function. We’re now jumping into the four ‘pillars’ that underpin the property function, beginning with our people design pillars.

This people design pillar is organised into two parts:

  • People and capabilities: the number and quality of the internal team, their skills, experience, qualifications, and capabilities
  • Organisational structure: the organisational structure used, allocation of roles and internal reporting lines.

With all good organisation designs, the core requirement is alignment to strategy. For all supporting functions, it is key to ensure that the structure of the core business is reflected in the structure of the property team.

Internal customers must be clear on how their needs are managed and who is managing them.

Uniquely for property, there is a key geographical element to good team structures and skillsets. Assets, services, and customers are all tied to physical locations, which need to be considered when resourcing and structuring teams.

Let us look at the core set of design models that need to be considered:

  • Client-based – roles allocated to specific internal client sets.
  • Technical/function-based – roles clustered based on property technical skills.
  • Geographical based – roles clustered to service geographical areas.
  • Asset-based – roles clustered to service-specific types of assets (retail sites, commercial, IT etc…)

It is most common to see a mix of these designs to ensure an adequate balance of skills is clarity of accountability.

Make the most of your ‘people pillar’

Traditional property teams are resourced and structured on a technical basis. Real estate, facilities and project management skills are grouped into teams and “technical knowledge” is seen as the core to good outcomes.

However, this is only part of the solution. The requirements of customers and skillsets to understand their strategy and translate this into property solutions is often overlooked.

Technical skill sets must be supplemented with communication, relationship and contract management and strategy skills

Problems with your ‘people pillar’

The most seen evidence of an issue with skills and structure are problems with meeting customer needs. A review of a team structure to identify key issues include:

  • Poor customer engagement or customer satisfaction scores.
  • A lack of ability influence internally to achieve optimal outcomes for the business.
  • Property team is seen as ‘doers’ with little to add to strategy or key business decisions
  • Overemphasis on technical skills.
  • Lack of trust from internal stakeholders and a feeling that property is blockers or lack understanding of business needs.

While not all these issues can be sourced back to structure and skills directly, they usually indicate that a review is required.

Organisations need to balance hard skills with the soft influencing skills necessary to manage relationships and steer through changes. These skills are often seen by ‘traditional’ property teams as either second-tier or unnecessary.

Do you need help applying our framework to your business, or make sense of the data? Contact us today, and we can help you identify and resolve problems within your property function.