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Morgan University Trains Its Rising Stars

Morgan Property Training
June 2017

Morgan Properties believes investment in personnel should begin the minute someone is hired and be continuous throughout one’s career.

A business can’t focus just on expanding its portfolio. Growth means little to nothing if property owners and managers do not have a strong team of employees to support expansion. An area that often gets overlooked in the business growth cycle is employee training and development. This is not only hazardous for the company culture, but has the potential to wreak havoc on a company’s finances. 

Disengaged employees cost organizations billions of dollars annually, according to a 2017 study by The Conference Board. Employees are the foundation to every business. Investment in personnel should begin the minute they are hired, and then continue throughout their career growth. Thus, an effective training system is essential to retaining and developing employees to their full potential. 

That’s the mantra of Morgan Properties – one of the largest apartment managers and owners in the United States with more than 37,000 apartment homes in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Nebraska. Morgan Properties currently has 900 employees and continues to add more with each portfolio acquisition as part of the company’s strategic development.

“Morgan Properties strives to attract, develop and retain talented and creative people looking for interesting and challenging experiences,” Jonathan Morgan, President of Morgan Properties JV, says. “With our extensive employee leadership training program, we have been able to catch our passionate personnel up to speed with lessons taught by our trainers at Morgan University. We believe in our people, and are creating standards in the industry with our award-winning employees that are dedicated to providing our residents with the highest quality residential living experience every day. Our business is successful because of our people and the culture that inspires them.” 

To fill the need for an effective training program for the growing team, Morgan Properties implemented Morgan University in 2014. Prior to Morgan’s Professional Development Programs (PDP), Morgan University acted as the online training portal that housed courses and calendars for all of the company’s training courses. Now, all employees take some form of in-person, new-hire training and skill building. PDP is a selective program which identifies rising stars and invests in the team members who can further elevate Morgan as a company. 

Morgan University currently hosts PDP levels 101 and 201. PDP level 101 is for site employees who have been with the company for a minimum of six months, while PDP level 201 is for property and services managers who have been with the company for at least 12 months. To be in the PDP programs, employees must apply and obtain approval by senior management. Team members chosen to take part in Morgan’s PDP are identified as employees that are passionate about their careers and spread that passion throughout the organization. Since inception, PDP 101 has had 70 participants and PDP 201 has had 43 participants.

PDP sessions are held one day per month for nine months. Classes start in September and end with graduation in May. Courses focus on leadership skills needed to advance in a management career, including leadership communica­tion and development, accountability and time management, conflict management, financials, hiring and coaching, asset man­agement and increasing value through capital projects, strategic thinking and final project presentations.

“For each course, there are assign­ments done outside of the classroom environment and include reading assign­ments, or video and report reviews,” says Amy Weissberger, Vice President of Train­ing. “Once in the classroom, the entire day is spent working hands-on applying the lesson taught in a practical way that is relevant to the students. The courses culminate in a final project presentation which asks the participants to use all of skills and techniques taught.” 

Participants must give a timed speech on two to three areas of opportunity at their community based on financial results, personnel issues, resident retention, capital management, etc. Students must present specifically what they want to improve or change and why; how they plan to report on progress to their fellow team members, supervisors and the owner; and lastly how they will hold others and themselves accountable for execution and how success will be measured.

Morgan has a dedicated team of eight highly skilled trainers, which has helped expand training based on the team mem­ber’s role in the organization. The training department is headed by Amy Weissberg­er, Vice President of Training, who has been with Morgan Properties since 1994. Alongside her is Laura Napieralski, Mor­gan’s Instructional Design Manager, who works collaboratively to develop courses and curriculum for the training depart­ment. The other six trainers consist of five field trainers and one implementation project specialist, and all have expertise in property management and sales. Most have held roles as property managers or service managers prior to moving to the training department. For the PDP programs, trainers and senior executives— the subject matter experts—partner together to present the courses. 

After a new hire, training continues throughout one’s career, including hands-on HVAC and appliance repairs, skill builders for sales, leadership training, time management seminars and more. The training department also travels within the organization to offer local training courses and provide teams with one-on­one attention. In addition to the training department, Morgan Mentors are available to assist with newly hired team member support once a new hire arrives back at his or her community from on-boarding training. The Mentors are selected through an application and testing process that ensures that consistent methods are used to help on-board the same way, regardless of location. 

In addition to Morgan University, Morgan encourages growth outside of the business. Morgan will frequently send em­ployees to events hosted by organizations such as the NAA to gain further industry knowledge. The company also offers a tuition reimbursement program for those seeking to continue their education both at multifamily industry courses as well as outside courses.