Alef Estate is a company known as the trendsetter in the development of the urban space of Dnipro city.
The facilities which became the extremely popular symbols of the city not only have been having the architectural merit over many years, making city image more beautiful; moreover, the residents associate them with the comfortableness, distinguished appearance, and polite designated staff.
Daria Dmytrychenko, HR-director of the company, gave the exclusive interview about the principles and special aspects of the process of the recruitment of the employees being part of the team of one of the leading developers. Moreover, she told about the current state of things as to the staff turnover and for what the Alef Estate staff lives in general.
Please tell how do your working days in your department go? Did the scope of work increase due to expansion?
Well, we still have routine work. However, now we also prepare for the fact that it the coverage of staff will be necessary at the new facilities. For this purpose we have to calculate the number of employees, to publish certain number of job opportunities, and to recruit necessary professionals. The scope of work will increase in any way.
Which particular job opportunities are you going to publish? As far as we know, do you have own maintenance service for residential complexes and shopping malls?
This is true; all maintenance services in our company have the same organizational structure. They certainly include the engineering service, security service, cleaning service, and the executive staff. The staff is formed step-by-step, depending on the facility which is put into commission.
ALL EMPLOYEES OF HR DEPARTMENT ARE MULTI-TASKING
How many people work in HR department and which functions do they fulfill?
Key function of HR department in the company is the establishment and implementation of systems for development and efficient work of people.
Currently, there are three persons in my department, and we cover absolutely all functions assigned to HR department, due to the fact that our employees are multi-tasking. For example, when it comes to HR officer, this person deals with personnel document flow, employment formalization and recruitment of people.
Moreover, in case of necessity he/she may deal with staff selection partially, provided that there are some last-minute job opportunities. In addition, the function of starting training of the employees is assigned to this person. We developed the training videos for line personnel in last year; these videos tell our employees about the company they were hired by, what the company lives for, and which values it has. Moreover, we deliver the information about the fact that which people and which team we want to see in our company with the help of these videos.
Another person in our department is the standardization engineer who deals with personnel assessment, staff size formation, evaluation of the necessity of new positions formation and their number, and the business-processes optimization.
Moreover, this person deals with interviewing our customers and measurement of NPS index. And I deal with everything else (she laughs).
Which is the operating procedure of the rate setter? For example, does this person conduct some diagnostic interviews with the employees?
All depends on the necessity. Interview is a compulsory part of work as the microprocess description. We do not deal with the business-processed description in general sense. However, we focus on the processes in relation to which we have to make sense of the fact that why something does not work or works improperly.
The professional gathers the information necessary for high-quality managerial decision-making both with the use of the interview, and the observation, photos of the working day or motion and time study.
VIP-SEGMENT: ALEF ESTATE IS A TRENDSETTER IN CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE OF THE FACILITIES
How does the system of recruitment of staff for the facilities of such level work?
Currently we have 23 job opportunities in our company for the staff of various levels; the system works in such a way that the employee of HR department is involved at the stage of the initial interview – this is either phone screening, or in-person meeting, depending on the job opportunity level. In the event that the applicant is recruited for the managerial position, this person shall be interviewed completely in detail first of all by me, and then by the functional manager. In the event that we recruit people for line positions, a simple telephone conversation will be sufficient to start. The recruitment officer asks several key questions in order to understand whether this person is right fit for us. In the event that the applicant agrees to the conditions, work schedule, amount of labor remuneration, and if his/her basic skills comply with our requirements, this person shall be referred to the interview with the immediate manager. Moreover, we always pay attention to the inquiry and try to get references from previous employers for each employee who comes to our company. This works very well due to the fact that this insures against the mistakes.
In principle, our company belongs to the companies of VIP-segment. Alef Estate is a trendsetter in construction, maintenance and service of the facilities, and the other companies follow our example. So, every single our employee whom werecruit very carefully has to conform to this high level certainly. We may share the values of our company with each employee even before start of work with the help of our video training which I mentioned earlier. Videos instruct our employees how to look their best, pay attention to our customers, and be always polite and even-tempered. In one word, it gives them the instructions due to which they adapt themselves to work faster. When the employee comes to the company, he/she understands the problems he/she may face with, the requirements which will be imposed to him/her, and how he/she has to behave in one or another occupational situations.
HR DEPARTMENT COMES TO OUR TENANTS WITH THE QUESTIONNAIRES EVERY SIX MONTHS – THIS HELPS TO WORK ON THE DEFECTS AND TO IMPROVE THE SERVICE LEVEL CONTINUALLY
Which professions the line personnel include?
Mainly, this includes cleaning and security service. There is the greatest staff turnover, as always on the line positions. So, our training videos are focused on this particular staff category in order to prepare necessary employees as soon as possible without loss of service level.
By the way, we also conduct surveys of our tenants every six months, and we measure their service satisfaction level. According to the survey results we certainly hold the range of events in order to comply with remarks and to get even higher estimate of our work next time. We use several measures for evaluation according to which we assess the service level. NPS index is one of such criteria, and this index increased from 40% to 59% against that of last year.
WE RATE OUR PEOPLE HIGHLY, SO WE RESPOND TO THE MISTAKES OF OUR EMPLOYEES LIKE “TEACH AGAIN”
Please tell about your plan of action if you have some complaints against certain employee
We respond like “teach again” due to the fact that we rate our people highly and we suppose that they may be mistaken. In such case we repeat out training again – maybe, this person forgot something partially or did not understand. We receive the complaints addressed to certain employee very occasionally. However, when such situation happens, we respond like this: this person comes to HR department again, we conduct remedial training, and then according to the results of this training we understand which questions the employee answers incorrectly. We work up every such question in cooperation with this person, and then we deliver this information to his/her functional manager, specifying which mistakes were made and on which aspects it is necessary to work.
However, the tenants often comment on the general aspects. In fact, all results of our work are evaluated as the outputs of team work. In other words, when the things are going well in the shopping mall, this means that both cleaning and security service and the trade centre works fine.
In fact, therein lies the advantage of own maintenance service – it would be much difficult to influence on them if they would be the contractors. First of all, it is the desire of the company’s investor, Vadym Volodymyrovych Iermolaiev, to see our staff in this particular way, and every single member of team uses best efforts for this purpose.
WE MAY CONSIDER 200 AND MORE APPLICANTS BEFORE HIRING TOP-LEVEL MANAGER
How much time do you need in general to fill the vacancies, and how many applicants can you consider before this?
Currently, the situation on the labor market has changed in some way due to quarantine; the sufficient number of the applicants became available. However, there are still some difficulties, because we select our staff carefully. We have basic criteria according to which we recruit our employees.
When it comes to the vacancy of the line personnel, then we consider about 2-3 persons before hiring, and if we say about top-level managers of our company, about the prestigious work people want to deal with, we may consider even 200 and more persons.
How much time do you need to find the top-level manager?
It entirely depends on the vacancy to be filled and its urgency. We had been selecting the employee for one of the vacancies during the whole year. We had enough time as of that time; we predicted the top-position occurrence, and we considered the applicants step-by-step; we read more than 250 CVs and conducted about 50 personal interviews. Due to this approach we found that particular diamond which we waited for, and it was worth it. In general, the average period of time necessary to fill the middle-level vacancy is equal to about a month.
IF WE MAKE THE BULL’S EYE AND FIND “OUR” PERSON, HE/SHE MAY WORK IN THE COMPANY WITHIN 10-12 YEARS, EVEN AT THE LINE POSITION
As regards the staff turnover, how long the line employee works in the company in average?
The line employees may be divided into two categories. If the person was not exactly the right fit from the very beginning, but we gave a chance to this employee, he/she often quits within 3-6 months. And if we make the bull 's-eye and find our person, he/she may work within 10-12 years even at the line position.
People are just proud of the fact that they work in such large, famous and advanced company; they are the part of it. Moreover, we have very talented management and strong team spirit. Even people who leave the company say that. By the way, we conduct the exit interview with each employee who quits. Nobody just leaves. We find out everything what they think about us (she laughs) and we correct our mistakes due to this information.
ONE OF THE MOST AMBITIOUS GOALS IS TO CHANGE THE CITY IMAGE, AND THE EMPLOYEES WANT TO BE ART AND PART IN IT. SO, THEY LIKE TO DO IT TOGETHER WITH VADYM IERMOLAIEV
You said that the executives and management of the company often remain to work here almost forever. Were there such situations when the competitors tried to poach your top-level or middle-level managers? And if such situation happened, why did not they quit?
In fact, I can not remember such case, and I even do not know where it is possible to go (she laughs). We have many people who share the values of the company and the investors sincerely. One of the most ambitious goals is to change the city image, and the employees want to be art and part in it. This is beautiful and noble work, and people like to do it together with Vadym Volodymyrovych Iermolaiev.
WE ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO THE PRIOR ACHIEVEMENTS WHILE COMMUNICATING WITH THE APPLICANT
You have a great variety of job opportunities, from the cleaning staff to the executive managers or engineers. How could you understand that this person is a good professional, for example, engineer, if you are not in this profession? What are the indicators for understanding of the fact that this person is rather smart and competent in his/her profession?
This is always evidenced by the achievements. You have to listen very carefully when person tells about his/her past, and then you may be 100% positive that he/she will be able to achieve the same here, and even more. It entirely depends on the opportunities and powers. The prior achievements describe person very well as of today, and certainly we apply whether these achievements comply with the requirements of our job opportunity. Surely, we also pay attention to the references from previous employers.
It should be mentioned that this refers to the students as well. The previous achievements are important even if we hire the young professionals. We pay attention to the fact how they proved themselves during education, and where they participated at the same time. Maybe, they have some sport or foreign languages study achievements to this day. We can not suppose otherwise than to reflect on the past. We ask the person what he/she lives for, and what does he/she want in the course of our conversation. We devote much attention to the motivation, because when the employee manifests own desire to bring something to the table and to work, if he/she likes this work, the result won’t be long before.
Do you have the situations when the person looks forward to work at the enterprise and is very motivated, but some time later he/she is just “out of gas”, and losses that first breath, and you understand that this person is completely different from the person whom did you interview?
Unfortunately, such situations happen seldom. Sometimes the person just “burnsout” at the certain stage – usually, this is the recruitment mistake. In such a case this person leaves the company within 3-6 months if he/she understands that this is wrong place for him/her. As for us, we use our best efforts to avoid such mistakes, that's why we describe in details what this person will has to do at the new workplace. In addition to the applicant consideration, we also try to tell honestly in detail what we require from the employee and which results do we expect. We have made only one mistake during 2 years of my work.
How is your normal working day going? Is it organized in advance according to some plan, or maybe there are the unpredictable situations?
Every day of working week is planned by 80%. We have an understanding of some high-priority affairs, meetings, and interviews, and 20% remains in order to catch and to take everything else which happens suddenly. This includes both new tasks from the managers or some problematic situations which happen with the staff, and the last-minute vacancies which have to be filled. This is life, and, surely, there is always some percent of unplanned events.
GREAT NUMBER OF TOP-LEVEL MANAGERS HAVE BEEN WORKING IN THE COMPANY ABOUT 20 YEARS – IN FACT, DURING THE ENTIRE PERIOD OF ALEF ESTATE EXISTENCE
Which are the opportunities of career development in the company?
There are few personal examples of the employees in the company who stood at the origins, as early as at the very beginning of its development. We have a great number of top-level managers who have been working here about 20 years – in fact, during the entire period of Alef Estate existence. For example, there is one woman, the executive manager of one of the shopping malls who started her work at the position of the office manager in 2002. Step-by-step she became the executive manager of the smaller shopping mall, and today she manages one of the largest shopping complexes of Dnipro city. Moreover, there is one of the top-level managers who started his work back in 2004. I want to say that these numbers are admirable.
PERSONAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEES HAVE TO GO INTO THE BACKGROUND IN WORK-RELATED ISSUED FRIENDSHIP HAS TO BE OUTSIDE OF THE WORKING SPACE
What do you think about personal friendship between work colleagues? Is it good or bad?
Privately, I am the supporter of the corporate relations. If there are some personal relations between the employees, they have to go into the background in work-related issues. It is necessary to be able to set priorities. For me work is above all, and friendship has to be outside of the working space.
DESIRE TO WORK AND COMMITMENT TO THE PROFESSION IS THE MOST VALUABLE QUALITY IN PEOPLE WHICH WE TRY TO FIND FOR EACH POSITION IN THE COMPANY
Which qualities do you value in would-be employees regardless of the job opportunity level and position in the company?
Maybe, it sounds primitively, but I still value their genuine desire to work. Person’s desire to work is 90% of success. Love and commitment to own profession is also very important; this is the most valuable quality inherent in those particular talents which we always try to find for each position. If the person is keen to particularly his/her profession, then he/she improves himself/herself in this, he/she learns something new, he/she raises the level of his/her competence, and achieves better and better results continually.
Are there any indicators or signals which help you to understand that this person will be “toxic” for the company?
Surely, there are many such indicators. Well-experienced recruitment officer will always notice them during the conversation. For example, when you ask the applicant to put questions to you as to the position to which he/she aspires, it is very important to pay attention to the first question put by the applicant. Certainly, all of them are interested in working hours, work-life balance, and the salary – I suppose that people would not come to work without it. However, the person who really wants to work, will ask first of all anyway: “what will I do?”, or “which result do you expect from me?”, “how can I understand that I am efficient?”. Such questions always draw attention like indicators, and you understand that this person is ready to start something to do even now; he/she applies to himself/herself how he/she is able to perform things which we expect from him/her.
Reference: Alef Estate is a development company dealing with the development of business projects for the construction, sale and operation of commercial and residential real estate property.
“Alef” corporation incorporates cross-sectional businesses operating in the sector of development, manufacturing of construction materials and the agrarian field.
Vadym Iermolaiev is a chairman of “Alef” corporation council. Stanislav Vilenskyi is a deputy chairman of the corporation council.