Since bringing its property management function in-house in 2013, Cortland has been pioneering a resident-first business model for the multifamily real estate industry. Recognizing that employee performance leads to business performance, their Chief People Officer, Priscila Mattingly, wanted to do the same for their 1,800 associates. She took on the challenge and ultimately transformed performance management into performance development at the company.
However, there were enormous complexities in Cortland’s change management journey. With a highly decentralized workforce including service technicians, leasing consultants and superintendents, it was difficult to ensure that all associates receive and deliver continuous feedback. A cultural change was also needed to open people up to providing feedback in a constructive way. Lastly, Cortland was looking to reduce the significant amount of time that managers and associates spent preparing for performance conversations.
As a first step, Priscila sought a technology partner that would help them ditch their annual performance review in favor of a continuous feedback model. “Performance reviews are broken. It’s a dreadful process in HR,” says Priscila. “We needed a mechanism to collect feedback quickly and empower our associates to act on it.”
Cortland evaluated 10 different vendors for a performance management solution. They ultimately chose Reflektive because the platform matched their vision of a more holistic approach to people management.
“Reflektive meshed better with our culture and gave us more flexibility,” says Megan Jackson-Cheatham, Senior Manager of Talent Engagement & Inclusion.
After finding the right solution, Megan partnered with her Reflektive Customer Success Manager to roll out the new system to Cortland’s associates. She started by providing company-wide training on how to give feedback in a constructive way. “My Customer Success Manager has been key to getting our associates to give more feedback by providing helpful frameworks and guidance along the way,” she says.
Priscila and Megan knew Reflektive was working after their first performance check-in cycle. “Managers were coming up to us saying it was so easy, fluid and painless,” says Priscila.
Moreover, they’ve seen improvements in how managers and associates work together and in performance overall. Reflektive helps managers give relevant feedback to their associates and become better coaches. “Performance has improved in that associates have been asking to receive feedback from their managers,” says Megan. “That allows us to catch them at a point where potential issues are still fixable.” More than 60% of associates on performance improvement plans are no longer on them, and the team attributes this success to Reflektive and the emphasis on coaching and developing associates.
Today Cortland’s Talent team runs three to six check-ins each year that focus on in-person conversations, as well as one annual 360 review. They also reinforce their core values through the frequently-used public recognition wall they named “Rave.”
“I’m very happy with the changes; they are very meaningful to us,” says Priscila. “When people get continuous feedback, they are more productive, enjoy work more and become more open about their own performance and how are others doing.”