EPMEPM: HR and Recruitment

The Undercover Temp: Lauren Kropp

What is it really like to be a temp in a property management department? Easy, you might think; you just come in, do your job, leave at the end of the contract and get paid well. But if you do think that, you are greatly mistaken, as Lauren Kropp, Director of Real Strategix, found out for herself.

We’ve all seen the show ‘Undercover Boss’, but there have been two instances over the past year that I have placed myself in the temp world as an ‘undercover temp’.

When I first put the feelers out about entering Real Strategix into the recruitment/temping world, I thought, ‘There is no way I can make my new business venture work unless I live it myself.’ It was hard for me to take my consultant hat off and put my temp hat on.  What that meant was, ‘Just do the job the best way you know how, but don’t tell them there’s a better  way as a consultant would.’

The first office did not know my background and had just heard through the grapevine that I might be interested in temp work – perfect timing.

My job was doing the lease renewals for three large portfolios, which was a full- time four-week position. During that time, I was seated in an office off to the side where no one really checked on me. I was basically forgotten about.

It was by no means welcoming.

I would hear from reception, ‘Who is Lauren? Does anyone know a Lauren?’ to which the office would fill with yells: ‘Nope. Sorry!’

The receptionist would reply, ‘Sorry, Mr Smith, we don’t have a Lauren working here.’

It was about now I had to go and introduce myself to reception.

Who hired me? Who was paying me? Where was my induction? I didn’t even know where the toilets were, the emergency exits or who I was reporting to.

Did I have a password? Was I a registered user of the trust accounting software so my ‘temp’ role and notes could be tracked? Did I have a time sheet or could I just leave at the end of the day?

Who were the people whose names were on the portfolio that I was doing lease renewals for? Is there a system in place which they want me to follow? Or do I just send the lease with a notice to leave? Do I always do a CMA? Oh… do they use RP Data for this?

Who is this awful woman eyeballing me from across the room? Oh, that’s the property manager whom I have had to tell the principal about; she hasn’t actioned lease renewals for the past four months and has 130 properties on periodic leases.

This particular role was not stressful apart from the abuse from the owners, wondering why their tenants had not been on a lease for 12 months.

Luckily, in this instance, I was able to secretly put my consulting hat on and take on a very unhappy owner. Within four days his new lease was returned with a substantial rent increase and he became my best friend.

During my time in this office, two people out of 30 introduced themselves to me. After three weeks I was still hidden away, although by this stage everyone knew who I was as I had introduced myself and my role.

This is the hardest job of a temp. They are brought into an unfamiliar office for sometimes as short as a week or two as the property manager has just walked out. And if that particular property manager didn’t leave notes, all they have to go on is email searches, which are sometimes like reading Nancy Drew novels.

We all know there are good PMs. I loathe the term ‘bad’ PMs; instead, I refer to those as ‘PMs who struggle with the workload’.  But you must realise how difficult it is to have a temp come into your office and pick up the pieces.  I call them Temp Private Investigators.

Don’t get me wrong; we have gone to many offices that are what I call WGT (‘We Got This’). These are the ones that have the computer passwords set up, the introductions sorted,  a list of things to do and the friendly ‘Thank you, Mrs Temp, for coming in and helping us out’ attitude.

Please be nice to temps. I know you have to show them around and answer questions about procedures and systems, but they are there to help make your life that little bit easier. And trying to get you to stop at just one glass of wine instead of a bottle a night.

Undercover temp, over and out.

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Lauren Kropp

Lauren Kropp has over 20 years’ experience in all facets of business operations including 7 years owning her own business as a Management, recruitment and social media trainer for the Real Estate Industry.