How Birge & Held Increased Its Engagement Score by 17% With 15Five Coaching
About the Customer:
Birge & Held is a national, private equity real estate investment firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since its inception in 2008, Birge & Held has acquired more than 12,000 units and has more than $1 billion in assets currently under management across the country. There are currently 400+ Birge & Held employees.
- Maintain Birge & Held’s distinct culture through expansion
- Strengthen employee engagement in all regions and individual properties
- Create a strong employer brand that attracts the right candidates
- Measure and improve employee engagement with 15Five’s Engage tool and consulting services
- Offer 15Five coaching to all Birge & Held regional managers
- Extend 15Five coaching to specific property managers with lower engagement scores
- Transformed Memphis property from being the bottom 10% of engaged employees to the top 10% of engaged employees
- Increased Minneapolis property engagement score by 17% after just one session
- Increased operational efficiency in Minneapolis property by 100%
- Saved Minneapolis manager 20 hours every week
Since its very beginning, Birge & Held has always operated as a localized business. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the company’s core group of principals was tight-knit and knew the city like the back of their hands. Together, they made the Birge & Held culture—a professional but casual culture where the executive team can show up on site and walk a few units, and leadership potential is available at every level.
In 2017, however, the company started to expand into neighboring states like Ohio, Kentucky, and Minnesota. With this geographical expansion, one thing was clear—they needed a way to scale company culture while strengthening employment engagement across all geographical locations.
When Birge & Held started working with 15Five during this growth spurt, they surveyed their employees every quarter using 15Five’s Engage tool and partnered with a 15Five consultant to go over the survey findings and data. However, after a few years of consistent and rapid growth, the leadership team knew they wanted to make even more impactful change across all of their geographical locations. That’s when they added 15Five coaching to their strategy.
The Difference of 15Five Coaching
With 15Five coaching, the Birge & Held leadership team is able to drill into each region and give dedicated attention to any individual property that requires it. “Having the regional managers really get that individual attention and hard-line focus to different pain points or wins that are happening within their portfolio has been really effective,” says Birge & Held Director of Human Resources Larke Stuart. “You really get into the nitty gritty of what’s going on at each location and, as a result, we’ve seen scores and participation go up pretty drastically in the last year.”
“You really get into the nitty gritty of what’s going on at each location and, as a result, we’ve seen scores and participation go up pretty drastically in the last year.”Larke Stuart, Director of Human Resources
That’s what happened to one property in Memphis that went from being the bottom 10% of engaged employees to the top 10% of engaged employees. From the start, this particular property was challenging. There were long-standing issues with the staff and community before it became part of Birge & Held’s portfolio. However, with the help of 15Five coaching, the regional manager was able to really dig in and see who were the key players, who weren’t the right fit for the organization, and build up trust with the staff.
“It’s really just a testament to the person who oversees that community now,” says Stuart. “If you take a look at the data from when he took over the asset to where we are now, you just see a line that skyrockets up—and we can attribute that directly to coaching.”
Even more than coaching sessions for regional managers, Birge & Held has also recently offered 15Five coaching to property managers as well. “We’ve gotten such great feedback from the managers who have participated,” says Stuart. One manager who has particularly benefited from one-on-one coaching is Jenny Naugle, an area manager of 400 units at two properties in Minneapolis.
Jenny’s Before and After Story
When Jenny first inherited her Minneapolis properties, she was still coming into her own as a manager. She had difficulty giving clear direction to her team and transitioning from a friend to her peers to a leader role. All of this created a lot of turbulence with staff and engagement.
After just one 15Five coaching session, however, she was able to build up trust within her team, set clear expectations, and grow in confidence. “A light bulb went off and we saw her engagement score at her property go up 12 points—from 73 to 85—after just one session, which was huge,” says Stuart.
A light bulb went off and we saw her engagement score at her property go up 12 points—from 73 to 85—after just one session, which was huge.Larke Stuart, Director of Human Resources
After instilling the changes recommended by her coach, Jenny also saw a tangible increase in her team’s actual performance. “For the first time in a year and a half, we have been able to end each week on the maintenance team side with zero open work orders,” she says. “Last year, we had about 300 open work orders at this time.”
This 100% increase in efficiency also bled into Jenny’s performance. Prior to coaching, Jenny was working 13 hour days in order to manage everyone and get everything done on time. Now, she works about 9 hours per day, giving back 20 extra hours to herself every week.
A True Demonstration of Value
Stories like Jenny’s are only made possible by people who are willing to be stretched and developed. As Birge & Held continues to expand its regions and properties, it’ll need to attract leaders and future managers just like her to maintain a strong company culture.
The first step to get there is showing both current and future employees just how serious the company is about investing in its people. “By involving managers in the action planning process through coaching, we’re communicating as leaders that we aren’t just saying that we want to invest in the engagement of our employees,” says Larke, “we’re actually putting an action behind that.”
Birge & Held’s consistent and strategic actions over time are what have taken them from a small local Indiana firm to now 65 properties in 9 states. “[15Five] has worked really well for us,” says Larke. “The level of detail that we can get into and the strategic conversations that are born from our coaching conversations gets the ball rolling on things that we are either blind to or just not attending to in the same way.”
There’s still many states left on the map for Birge & Held to consider, and they’re not stopping anytime soon. With the right people and strategy in play, they’ll continue to grow—one local city at a time.