Progressive multifamily executives on the forefront of HR strategies are employing recruiters to actively source customer-service minded candidates and retaining top performers with training, education, and empowering "stretch" assignments that put talent and on the job skill sets to the test.

"Our company has been-and continues to be-in a continual growth mode, and as a result, we are only hiring people that we believe can grow into the next role," said Greenbelt, Md.-based Bozzuto Management company president Julie Smith, who joined McLean, Va.-based Kettler president Cindy Clare; Denver-based Simpson Property Group senior vice president of marketing and training Christina Steeg; and Ed Wolff, chief administrative officer for Seattle, Wash.-based Pinnacle on the "Leading People" panel at the 2008 Multifamily Executive Conference this week.

Both Bozzuto and Simpson are using behavioral interviewing and profiling techniques to highlight internal personnel and external job candidates that are good multitaskers and adept at handling stress while offering top customer service. All of the panelists were actively engaged in sourcing future employees via the Internet, particularly on social media Web sites such as FaceBook, MySpace, and YouTube. "We also have a full-time recruiter looking to retail, hotel, and restaurants for employees focused on customer service," Clare said. "We're looking for experience, but also attitude. We want an employee that is willing to learn and have a career, not just a job."

To that end, Pinnacle plans to implement an organization development review process modeled on the G.E. system of ranking employees to identify high potentials and poor performances. "This allows the organization as a whole to develop bench strength required to take Pinnacle to the next level," Wolff said. "Our goal is for every associate to feel valued, included, and excited to be part of a winning team."