Valbridge
News

The Prodigal Employee

By: Michael Naifeh

The appraisers that work with me deliver excellent quality reports. They work diligently to provide high quality client service. They take the initiative to keep clients informed. My staff makes my job easier. They all have initiative, integrity-based and act responsibly.

Most people are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. He received his inheritance from his father but, believing that the grass is greener elsewhere, leaves his home and squanders his fortune. Then, in his moment of greatest need, decides to return to his home and beg for his father’s forgiveness. His father welcomes him back and celebrates his lost son, now found.

With far less drama, I have two stories of the prodigal employee. One was poached by a government entity and another by a large accounting firm. Commercial appraisal competitors have attempted to recruit other team members over the years in addition to these two examples.

When I was informed that these employees were leaving, I was disappointed. However, I did not begrudge them their opportunity. I care about the people that work with me and I want them all to be successful. However, I do not define success as being a slave to earning money. I want my team to have balance in their lives and have time to spend with people they care about and enjoy.

So, before the "prodigal employees" left, I told each of them the following: "I'm going to miss you. You are an excellent appraiser. I hope you are extremely successful in your new job. However, I want you back. Whenever you choose to come back, the door will be open and I will make room for you no matter what because you are worth it. You are a high-quality person and a high-quality appraiser."

In each case, they were promised far superior arrangements. In one case the salary would increase 50 percent, telecommuting other than two days a month was allowed, and the work quality was extraordinarily more interesting.  What happened was a pay increase of 20 percent, but travel to the primary office was at the appraiser’s expense which offset the pay increase. The telecommuting rights were terminated approximately nine months after the start. The work flow was a combination of interesting and mundane. This employee returned to our firm within nine months.

In another case, a 50 percent pay increase was promised, the work would be extraordinary and interesting, and the team that was a well-oiled machine. The compensation did go up by 50 percent but the hours were nearly doubled and, in fact, six to seven-day work weeks including 12+ hour work days were expected. Some work was interesting and other work was typical. But, the biggest problems were the team was dysfunctional, turnover was rampant, and the hours were grueling. This employee returned to our firm within seven months. In the near term, this employee will achieve a 25 percent pay increase.

The people that work with me are outstanding individuals. They are totally awesome and I am so very proud of them and grateful that they choose to work with me in Arizona, at our Phoenix and Tucson offices. They are a key reason that Valbridge Property Advisors is a fantastic company.