An Interview with Sunita Holzer of Realogy Holdings Corp.

September 30th, 2019

Change management and merging four HR departments into one were challenges for Sunita Holzer when she signed on as CHRO at Realogy

Public companies require a best in class HR function, core systems, processes, and programs. When Sunita Holzer joined Realogy Holdings Corp. three years ago, she found that to be the case and she was energized about building the HR function across Realogy.

Realogy is made up of four business units: a franchising group, a real estate brokerage, a relocation services company, and a title company, each of them with its own HR department, but not leveraged across the enterprise.

“My charge was to build an enterprise-wide HR function,” she says. “The vision was to have a best-in-class corporate HR function for the company to better develop, attract, and retain talent.”

The business unit HR teams embraced the idea.

“We built a companywide HR community, which we hadn’t had before,” she says. “Now, the HR teams had a way to share best practices and ideas.”

Holzer and her business HR teams dug in to find the best-of-the-best, state-of-the-art HR practices and technology, and one of the first things she did was hire the right talent to do the job, experts in talent management, learning and development, and HR data analytics.

“I had the knowledge of what Realogy needed and we hired people to head up each effort,” Holzer says. “They knew how to develop programs and find the tools we needed.”

In three years, her teams have created the talent management, learning and development, and human capital analytics functions to drive talent and human capital decisions for the company.

“We now have our first online performance management system, an annual engagement survey, human capital dashboards, and executive leadership programs.”

It meant there were a lot of new processes and procedures for the company. Managing all of that change was a challenge.

“People were used to doing things in a certain way,” Holzer says. “We provided new tools, processes, and systems, but we didn’t mandate anything. We taught employees how to use the new tools and systems and built in time for them to learn.”

CEO support for the revamping of HR was critical, and it inspired managers and other leaders to embrace the process.

One of those changes concerned performance appraisals. Initially, Realogy used various types of performance appraisals across the organization. We brought in a company-wide, online system and process that measures things like leadership goals and metrics quarterly. It focuses on competencies and identifies gaps, and then steers the focus to leadership development to close those gaps.

“Before the new system was implemented, approximately 50 percent of our employees received formal feedback. Since the launch of our new process and platform, 99 percent of our employees now receive formal feedback via our new platform and process,” Holzer says. “We’re building a true performance management culture. We identify and reward high performers and develop or coach people who are mid to low performers, so people feel valued and developed.”

A recent challenge Holzer and her teams are currently tackling is recruitment.

“Hiring is difficult, because our parent name is less well known,” she says. “We have some of the most recognizable real estate brands in the world, Coldwell Banker, CENTURY 21, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, ERA, but Realogy is not well known, so talent acquisition can be a challenge.”
Her best strategy? “Have a game plan, build relationships, have the right talent and take the time to execute new programs carefully.”

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