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Self-storage began in America Essay

The Shurgard concept of self-storage began in America in 1970 when cofounder of the company Chuck Barbo identified a gap in the market for both homeowners and businesses with a requirement for extra space.

He came up with the notion of mini-warehouses for people with excess belongings and businesses with long forgotten records or documents.
Twenty years later Shurgard began to expand into Europe and in 1995 the first European store opened in Brussels. Four years later the first UK store opened in South London and earlier this year the company was bought for $5bn by Public Storage, the world’s largest owner and operator of self-storage facilities. The challenge

The growth and success of Shurgard in Europe meant that increasing demands and expectations were being placed on the company’s operations middle managers who were wrestling with a growing number of stores, an ever-larger geographic area of responsibility, increased numbers of employees, decentralisation of country and panEuropean support centres, greater autonomy and reorganisation of roles.

Terry Whitney, European Learning and Development Manager of Shurgard SelfStorage Centers, said: “The business of self-storage was very different in Europe than it was in the US and there were different points of maturity in the market so there were many challenges to face. Most of our attention was focussed on buying property and building new facilities. Suddenly we realised we had a management team that was bright and hard working but had suffered from a lack of development focus.”

“The best result of our partnership with SHL is that the district managers are now motivated because they know what is expected of them, how they will be held accountable and have focused training and development in place. Importantly, they also know what success looks like.” Terry Whitney, Shurgard shl.com

Case Study | Shurgard

Typical of many fast growing companies, Shurgard realised that it had no consistency of job titles, roles or responsibilities and no standardised job descriptions or job competencies for its staff. In addition there was no formal evaluation, training or development and no succession planning.

What Shurgard wanted to create was a consistent layer of district managers across Europe. Some people already had this title but their job seemed little different to a market manager, operations manager or area manager.

“We were promoting great operations people from store managers to more senior job titles with responsibility for profit and loss accounts for specific districts. We also wanted them to lead, inspire and motivate and the more senior roles had a completely different set of skills requirements which we had not measured or trained for,” said Whitney.

District managers were identified as the operations critical layer with which to start work. Shurgard felt that if these people could not understand and accurately report on key occupancy and rates figures for stores, then shareholders would not have the confidence to invest money for expansion and more storage sites. The solution

This client places people development high on its list of organizational priorities. With an agreed name for the role, the company needed to align the title with expectations and competencies that could be used across Europe and which would accommodate future growth of new stores. The people had to more effectively lead and manage an ever larger number of store personnel at a time of reduced centralised support. They were also required to operate at a higher managerial level than had previously been demanded.

Faced with this challenge, Shurgard partnered with SHL – global experts in workplace assessment – to conduct a performance assessment of the mid-management team in Europe.
The programme was designed to:

• Establish a benchmark of current managerial talents
• Undertake a gap analysis to determine the strengths and limitation of the management team against the new job competencies
• Recommend how the current managerial team could achieve the new expectations for the district manager role
• Assess the leadership potential of the current team
• Identify the ideal profile of a district manager for use in future recruitment.

Supporting more than 10,000 customers every year

Organisations that understand and maximize their people’s potential achieve outstanding results. SHL gives you the insights to make better decisions about your people. We call this People Intelligence, Business Results.

“With SHL’s Universal competency Framework cards, we were able to define the critical behaviours required for the district managers role”, comments Whitney “This competency model was the hub around which SHL was able to design an appropriate development centre programme.”

Individuals were invited to a one-day assessment at an SHL diagnostic development centre in order to see how they fitted the need and behavioural competencies of the district manager role. The assessment included exercises aligned to specific competencies, psychometric tests in local languages, management scenario role-play and numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning tests. Each attendee received feedback from a senior SHL assessor who took them through their results and talked about their development needs.

The Results
As a result of the assessment, Shurgard found that its mid-management team had a wide spectrum of skills and abilities but also specific patterns of managerial strengths and weaknesses. Recognising these areas enabled the company to target the appropriate training and development to address specific competencies and behaviours.

“Shurgard really learned the critical importance of aligning the district manager job description, job competencies, hiring profile, training activities and performance management processes to create improved motivation and performance,” said Whitney.

He added that using the competencies created by SHL also changed the recruitment and promotion process. New recruits are now given competency-based interviews focused on certain experiences whilst promotions are no longer based on length of service and performance alone but on potential against the required competencies. “For me it’s the competencies – everything ties back to them,” said Whitney.

And he adds: “The best result of our partnership with SHL is that the district managers are now motivated because they know what is expected of them, how they will be held accountable and have focused training and development in place. Importantly, they also know what success looks like.”

Case Study | Shurgard

Shurgard’s need to focus on developing its managers was being hampered by a lack of consistency in job titles, roles, responsibilities and competencies for its staff. SHL worked with the firm to assess its midmanagement team in Europe and identify the ideal profile for district managers. Shurgard is now able to target management development and recruit more effectively for improved motivation and performance 25 million assessments every year.

Organisations that understand and maximize their people’s potential achieve outstanding results. SHL gives you the insights to make better decisions about your people. We call this People Intelligence, Business Results.


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