411 EAST WISCONSIN CENTER: AN APPROACH TO TRAINING IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN
This is the fourth in a series of articles exploring the six different categories in the updated 2.0 criteria for the BOMA 360 Performance Program.
BY CAROLINE POMILLA
How do you equip a property team to manage the second largest building in the state of Wisconsin? According to Colliers International’s Susan Johnson, CPM, RPA, senior property manager of 411 East Wisconsin Center, "it takes a comprehensive training and education program." She ought to know: Johnson led the 30-story, nearly 700,000-square-foot office tower to an international win in The Outstanding Building of the Year® (TOBY®) Awards in 2017—an achievement she attributes to the team’s improvement-oriented culture. Unsurprisingly, the property also performed exceptionally well in the Training and Education criteria category when applying for the BOMA 360 Performance Program. More on that shortly.
The size of the property, coupled with its location in downtown Milwaukee’s bustling central business district, requires a management team that is agile and able to make quick, informed decisions on a daily basis. "Oftentimes, the solution to a scenario isn’t something you can find in a single book or course," Johnson says. "It’s formed by the many insights my team and I have gathered throughout the years. The more you and your staff are exposed to, the better prepared you are."
That’s why she holds the members of the property team at 411 East Wisconsin Center accountable for seeking out educational opportunities, like engaging with local organizations, pursuing a professional designation or attending industry education events. "Those experiences can provide staff with invaluable, sometimes even life-saving, knowledge to bring back to the tenants," Johnson notes.
As a manager who champions a comprehensive approach to training and education, Johnson found this category of the BOMA 360 application criteria right in her wheelhouse. "It provides a clear framework for all the things a property should have in place to keep their talent sharp," she says, "like professional development plans for all staff, mentorship opportunities, support for continuing education and engagement with industry groups like BOMA."
These training and education ideals are key ingredients to the property team’s success, and the BOMA 360 criteria act as the trusted formula, guiding the team on what should be added. "When we worked through the application, we found that it identified our strengths and weaknesses as a property team," Johnson explains. "If you don’t have certain protocols in order, the program will make it evident and push you to get those things done—it’s an all-around great learning experience that encourages you to accomplish things you might not consider otherwise."
Plus, in exchange for all the hard work the 411 East Wisconsin Center team puts into their training and education, the BOMA 360 designation communicates those efforts to prospective and current tenants, assuring them that they are in highly capable hands. "We begin all of our leasing tours in the lobby next to a glass awards case where the BOMA 360 Performance Program plaque is prominently displayed," says Johnson. "It begins a dialogue on what it took to earn the designation and how it benefits our tenants. It’s important to us to start the tour at the trophy case because it shows that we practice what we preach. It shows that we are educated, informed managers who have our fingers on the pulse of industry trends and issues and that we know how to manage a building to the best of our abilities."
Tenants might not always recognize the value of training and education in the same way they do a tangible benefit like an amenity. Nevertheless, Johnson emphasizes that all occupants and visitors benefit from that experience every single day—whether it’s attending a well-run tenant event, like the annual summer barbeque, or having the latest information on operational best practices.
A recent example of this is the property’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "When the crisis first arose, our property team took swift, decisive action, implementing new measures to ensure our tenants and their spaces were cared for," Johnson explains. "That’s what you get when you have a well-trained team: adaptability and informed decision-making."
Thanks to the talented and dedicated staff at 411 East Wisconsin Center, occupants can rest assured that they have a safe office to return to, and that the best tenant barbeques are yet to come.
"[The BOMA 360 program is] an all-around great learning experience that encourages you to accomplish things you might not consider otherwise."
— Susan Johnson, CPM, RPA, Senior Property Manager, Colliers International
This article was originally published in the July/August 2020 issue of BOMA Magazine.