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Gundars Kaupins: Develop competencies to handle the unexpected

Gundars Kaupins: Human Resources
Gundars Kaupins: Human Resources

Real estate licensing involves taking tests about the laws, terms and protocols of the field. The licensee comes out into the field and is suddenly hit with its realities.

A harsh reality occurs when a client thinks about not signing a real estate contract because an earthquake strikes and structural damage to a building cannot be determined in the time frame desired. The buyer and seller clash with the unexpected event.

Certifications and licenses are obviously important in many professional fields. A strong trend is the focus on competencies to handle even the unexpected events and make the most appropriate decision given the unique circumstances. In other words, competencies are the capacity to get the job done — whenever, wherever and however.

A potential client comes to your door with a problem. He or she might not know or care about the laws, terms and protocols. A purchase or sale is what he or she cares about. Every case is different, and the unexpected should be expected.

Fields such as human resources have switched certification exam questions from “explain a feature of the law” to more competency-based testing. Competencies such as communication, critical thinking, evaluation and business acumen are tested through real-life examples and challenging simulated cases. Such examples and cases may lead to only difficult choices, and the test taker must pick one or more answers that cause the fewest problems. A case involving an earthquake that severely damages a building, for example, provides many challenging choices.

But competency testing involves more than just case-oriented questions. Tests in fields such as home inspection focus on seeing how an inspector would investigate and report on a real home. Pilots and astronauts simulate what to do when systems fail.

What has this got to do with your career? As all professional fields are heading in this testing direction, build your competencies. Experience is the best.

But get advice and stories from real estate veterans, too. Share life through social networks and lunches with your peers. You will never know when learning about, say, a silly faucet design could make a difference between a sale or not. I suspect they don’t teach faucet designs in real estate schools.

Gundars Kaupins is professor of management, College of Business and Economics at Boise State University. gkaupins@boisestate.edu. This column appears in the Jan. 20-Feb. 16, 2016, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine as part of a special section on commercial real estate.

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