Recruiting for Attitude

What makes a good employee? What makes this person a better bet for efficiency, productivity and excellence over this other, similar person? Is it skill? Is it experience? Is there some predictor that a recruiter can pin down and say “they have what it takes” without a shadow of a doubt?

If there was an easy answer, a lot of those involved in the recruitment process would be out of a job. If there was some kind of single, perfect test that could weed out an excellent candidates from the poor ones, I suspect you would have heard of it already – and likely be using it.

No, the reality is that recruitment remains a sought-after skill because the right candidates are not always immediately obvious to the inexperienced eye. That isn’t to say that there aren’t a few guiding principles that could help you spot that diamond among the glass beads. Attitude, not aptitude, should be the gold standard for anyone looking to find a new entrant to their workforce.

Can they learn the unlearnable?

Let me ask you a question: Would you prefer to have a person who is highly skilled but stuck in the mud, or a willing worker who might need training? Skills can be taught, but outlook is something that goes right down to the bone – or at least, deep enough down that the average employer can’t expect to be able to change it overnight. The way a person perceives the world, positive or negative, can be as fundamental a part of their make-up as an arm or a leg, and you wouldn’t expect to need to remove a limb in order for a person to fit in at your company, regardless of how much experience they have.

Positive emotions drive business success. A happy workforce is a productive one, high morale feeds directly into greater enthusiasm from your employees. Plus, away from the strictly business side, it simply makes your enterprise a more enjoyable place to work. Surrounding yourself with people who are ready and eager to learn makes success that much easier to achieve. Even if they need to be taught, they at least have the personal resources to be able to do so efficiently.

The power of positive

Speaking of personal resources, I’d like to point out that this kind of “positive thinking” isn’t just some kind of ambiguous business-speak that just shows up in slideshows and conferences. Positive psychology has proven effects on the ability of people to do better in the workplace.

Take one study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, aptly titled ‘Open Hearts Build Lives’. This study investigated how an increase in the daily experiences of positive emotions through a specific kind of meditation subsequently increased a person’s personal resources: Willpower, social support, purpose in life and even decreased illness symptoms.

You can see how an increase in these kinds of factors would improve a person’s ability to function in a workplace. Now stretch that out to an entire workforce, and suddenly those feel-good vibrations start taking on a far more tangible form. The above study showed how these kinds of feelings can be induced through a meditative trance; but if you can find a person to whom such emotions come naturally, then surely that is the better option.

Beyond happiness

However, the right attitude towards work isn’t just about being a happy person. They have to have the willingness to learn as well – and that factor has never been more important than it has been in the modern world, as we continue to roar along at an ever-increasing pace. To stay stagnant in your workforce is to stay stuck in your business; and that is a death knell for any enterprise, large or small.

Where can you find such attitudes for learning? Many of you will not be surprised to hear that it is the younger generation where this kind of attitude is concentrated. You might think that, with so many coming out of university, that young people might be a little sick of learning.

However, that is not the case, according to one survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers. It revealed that millennials considered the opportunity for personal development to be the number one reason for their decision to accept a particular role. That, of course, isn’t to say that you can’t find adaptable and reliable people among older generations as well, but it appears that is a major factor in the personality of the new wave of workers.

Ultimately, what does the right worker have? They have a spark, the initiative, and a willingness to learn, though not necessarily a huge amount of skill; you might even find it easier if they don’t! The right attitude is integral to success in the modern workplace. Have you found it yet?

The Art of Effective Communication

The Art of Effective Communication

In order to succeed in business, you have to know how to communicate. Hard skills can only get you so far, and the ability to manage, guide and express yourself to your colleagues as well as clients can go a long way to creating overall success.

The question, however, is whether your current communication skills are really up to scratch. You might be able to craft a brilliant email, but do you talk over other people at meetings? Perhaps you’re a fantastic active listener, but your body language seems stand-offish to your clients. Maybe you are warm, open-armed and welcoming, but your written communications result in people being turned off from your enterprise.

Are you putting enough of a focus on your skills of communication? And, if not, what can you do to rectify it?

Your grammar is a reflection of your image.– Jeffrey Gitomer

Despite the growth of other forms of media, many people still choose to engage with others through the written word. Memos and adverts, social media and blogs, the ability to turn a phrase or string a sentence together remains as important now in both communication and building your brand as it has ever been. Ignoring this fact, then, is a decision that only the unwise would make. And yet people do.

The strangest part of this phenomenon is that people who aren’t great at written communication tend to be the ones who overestimate their skills in it. In one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers from Cornell University found that people scoring at the bottom of grammar tests thought themselves to be above the average. The issue was that they were unable to tell accuracy from error – meaning that they were making mistakes without knowing it.

For a business, that could be a nightmare: Imagine if you had an employee happily writing poorly-worded emails to important clients without any knowledge of the fact that they were putting themselves and your business in a bad light. Poor writing can be solved, but only if the person knows they are doing it, and your place of work has the right culture for them to feel comfortable in expressing their need for help.

Which, rather neatly, brings us on to the next type of communication: Verbal.

“Say what you have to say, then stop.” – Rudolph Flesch

Verbal communication is, at its heart, a two-way street. A good leader will know that you don’t talk at your employees or your clients; you talk with them. Look at the rise of social media – something that enterprises have embraced wholeheartedly as a way to have a conversation with their users. The same is true with the “manager with an open door”. While it may be a cliche, it is an indicator of something that any wise leader will know: that transparency is key to a well-functioning office, and a big part of that is the way you verbally communicate with the people around you.

Of course, some factors are more important than others in success in verbal communication. Some of these you can control, others you can only mitigate. The Queensland government, for example, provides the basics of effective verbal communication for business owners, including varying tone and pitch, using “I” statements and choosing the right speaking style.

However, it also highlights the importance of being able to effectively listen. Too often, leaders in a position of power simply wait their turn to speak instead of actively processing what their employees are saying. It’s an indicator that a person has already decided what they are going to say, regardless of what the other person is about to communicate. This is hardly a way to build a business culture that encourages open communication and understanding – something that is integral to any enterprise that wants to retain staff, efficiency and good business outcomes.

“There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip.” – William Shakespeare

But verbal communication is only one part of communication when speaking face-to-face. There is the saying that body language is 80 per cent of communication (though the exact proportions seem to fluctuate depending on who is quoting it), and, like many a saying, there is a definite truth to it.

What differentiates body language communication from written and verbal is how important it is in the workplace in particular. It isn’t just about communicating meaning or emotion, but about how well your team functions too. A stand-offish stance, crossed arms and a frown can tell you a lot about what someone thinks about the current conversation, but did you know that body language can affect how much someone learns as well?

A study from Stanford discovered that large, irregular movements from a person trying to teach someone were associated with poor test scores from the student. While the researchers involved were quick to say that this did not show causation, nevertheless the results did show that this unusual body language could predict poor training outcomes. If you’re a leader trying to train new staff or upskill current workers, it is clear how this could end up affecting your workplace efficiency.

Communication is a key pillar of business, and society in general. A full command of it is integral for any leader in business, regardless of type – are your verbal, written and visual skills up to scratch?

Management Vs. Leadership

Management Vs. Leadership

Everybody has, at some point in their lives, had a mentor. It could be a parent, a teacher, a manager or even just a friend you looked up to. Somebody who wanted to push you to the next level, or introduce you to a new skill or way of thinking. It’s not just being shown what to do, it’s being taught how to feel about the task that you are performing and why it is important to both yourself and the greater organisation you are a part of.

Schools, families, businesses: They all have mentors, managers, leaders. But being put into a position of authority doesn’t magically turn you into a good leader: That’s a separate skill entirely.

Management versus leadership

The first thing you need to realise is that a manager and a leader are two different things. Management could be described as a system or set of processes designed to squeeze out efficiency: Budgets and rosters as well as problem-solving behaviour all fall into the definition of ‘management’. A leader, on the other hand, understands that there is more to being in charge than the practicalities of the business. A true leader not only manages, but also inspires. Pragmatism, mixed with people skills.

Engaging and motivating your team is one of the biggest obstacles that you will face in your journey as a business leader. Before you can start inspiring others, you have to look inwards and think about your own attitudes towards your daily work. Do you see it as a series of tasks that just need to be completed, or do you think beyond this? Do you have a vision for the future of your role, do you think about how your position could be used to inspire others? Is this just a job for the here-and-now, or is this a career for years to come?

Management, at its heart, keeps the business ticking over. Leadership, on the other hand, helps your organisation drive towards business growth. Both are important in their own way, but it is the combination of these two skill sets that push an enterprise from the status quo into the future.

The role of the coach

Another aspect of a good leader is the ability to coach others. It is one thing to be able to do something yourself, but quite another to be able to teach someone else. You’ll often find that many people only coach others when it’s time to put out organisational fires. Maybe the person in question hasn’t been taught a particular process properly, or are learning about a new product for the first time. In other words, it is reactive teaching, rather than proactive.

Good leaders are certainly coaches, but they also don’t wait until the last moment to communicate what needs to be done. Driving your team towards results is one part reducing the amount of time you personally have to spend dealing with issues, and one part developing the skills of the people you are responsible for.

These processes will not only make it possible for your teammates to develop down their own career paths, bettering the company as a whole, but also creates a sense of self-efficacy: A feeling of confidence in their own abilities. You can compound this by leading from the front, teaching by doing, coaching according to your own strengths so that you are able to grow them in others. This is the physical manifestation of the desire to strive to do your best, something that every leader needs to be able to have themselves, but also be able to instill in others.

Developing a workplace culture towards success

However, there is only so much a single person can do. The true test of a workplace is the culture that it develops. A leader can have all the clear vision, all the skills, all the proactive coaching that they like, but without the attitudes of your team on your side, all the management in the world won’t count for much.

Whether you are in the real estate industry like myself, the owner of a retail store or the CFO of an ICT company, being able to inspire people both in the short and the long term is the key to success with your staff. Change ultimately starts with you and your attitudes toward your work, but by changing your own behaviour you are also leading by example – becoming the person that your team looks up to when it  comes to getting the job done, and done well.

With the right coaching methods, the right perseverance and the right people skills, mere managers can become true leaders. Organisational culture and success begins with the people in charge, so you’ve got to ask yourself: do you want to see the future of your enterprise filled with triumph? Then it’s time to start becoming like that same mentor you looked up to when you were younger. Change your attitude, develop your team and lead from the front; become the leader that you need to be.

Leaders Create Culture

Sometimes culture is used only as a buzzword and often gets described as “the way things get done around here”.  The culture of a business should be seen as the prevailing values,
beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of our people.

Management & Leadership_croppedAn acidic or destructive culture inside your team will place your whole business at risk. Some of the signs that your culture is affected will be subliminal, whilst others will be clearly evident.  The key is to see the signs early and create a change culture for the team. Not an easy task, but one that all leaders must undertake.

The need to add new people to the team will be a constant for you, this is the natural course a business will take as it grows this automatically creates a cultural shift .  This, in itself, presents challenges, and your members will go through various stages as they change from being a group of
people who were previously unknown to each other to a united team with common goals.

If a business is a revolving front door of staff, it is an indication that there are cultural issues.  If these issues are not addressed quickly, the acidic or destructive nature of the culture will spread quickly and more often than not your business will suffer a loss of valuable team members.  The flow on effect from this is that leaders then start recruiting by crisis.  Choosing the wrong people or skipping key new employee inductions as they desperately try to fill the position.  The cultural impact this has,  can bring a business to it’s knees.

Leadership is about making things happen and building effective teams.   Often described as “leading yourself” an identification of your own leadership strengths something that you must understand before you can successfully lead others and evolve your culture.

What are your career development goals for 2016?

What are your career development goals for 2016?

The start of a new year is an opportunity to look ahead and make plans for the next twelve months.

I see a huge gulf between people who just work in property management and people who are property management professionals – and the bridge between the two is ambition coupled with professional development. Anyone at any stage in their career benefits from learning, being aware of industry standards and upskilling. If you speak to someone who is successful in their career (inside or out of our industry) they’ll tell you how they are constantly learning and more often than not, set aside dedicated time regularly to do so. Personally, in my 30 years in property management I have benefitted greatly from structured learning, strong leaders, wise mentors and saying yes to opportunities to try new things and pushing myself at all times.

You never know everything, so I am always learning and actively seeking out opportunities to understand the latest developments in our industry and how they can be applied. I also have the opportunity to share with others some of the key learnings and nuggets of gold that I have acquired.

Something on my horizon that really excites me is the upcoming Property Management Conference (PMC) in April. There are so many great conferences to upskill at, but the PMC is special. Not only is it purpose built for our industry, by people from our industry – but as the biggest one in our part of the world, it attracts the best people. And it’s that opportunity to learn from and with other people with different experiences, who are all working towards the same goal, that is really unique.

At PMC it’s my pleasure to speak about  ‘5 Channels of Growth’ – a structure that fits any Property Management business and provides deep insight into how you can progress and prosper, whatever your goals may be. In the year since we have been discussing the ideas that went into the 5 Channels of Growth, we have been working with a number of agencies to develop targeted marketing plans for each of the 5 channels. In this session we will be discussing some of the experiences we have seen, share some of the best practices that are emerging and debate the ideas we have for pushing it forward.

I’ll also be participating in The Great Debate – an action packed and light hearted dressing down of whether our actions speak louder than words. It’ll be a lot of fun, and a great way to have a laugh with a like minded bunch.

After all, with the day-to-day stress that we can sometimes feel with our line of work, letting your hair down a little can be very beneficial – and here PMC steps up too! The Gala party is without a doubt one of  the craziest and most fun nights of my life, full stop. Last time there were actual crocodiles, lasers, live bands, fire-breathers and knife throwing. This is one of those events that you cannot dress up enough for and can really go all out. It’s time I started thinking about my costume for this year’s theme ‘Heroes and Villains’.

I’m passionate about helping people progress their careers in Property Management and if you have any questions, or want to bounce around some ideas please get in touch. You can find out more about the Property Management Conference here.

What career development do you have planned for 2016?

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Click here to find out more about PMC2016

People make the difference

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The concept of a “landlord” can be traced back to the Roman Empire. Back then, peasants were bound to the land, dependent on their landlords for protection and the provision of justice. As time has passed, the basic concept of the landlord providing a person with shelter still exists, but today, it’s overlaid by influences from courts, laws and the general evolution of what we now know as property management.  Advances in business, education and technology have shaped the industry we exist in today.

But let me ask you this question; is it the industry that’s different, or are we different?

I have a firm belief that property management is all about relationships. The product we deal in is property and housing, it’s true. But without the landlords who own them and the tenants who live in them, a property management business cannot exist. So given this, why do most property management businesses focus solely on the product and not the people?

In an industry that ultimately hinges on client interaction, communication and customer service, we seem to get caught up in the transaction, rather than focusing our attention on fostering solid relationships.  I often hear the saying “clients for life” being thrown around, but do we as an industry really believe this is possible? If we do, then clearly our industry has to be about people.

Furthering this concept, it’s critical that business owners and leaders ensure they have the right people inside their business.  All staff must know and understand the true nature of the client relationship and do what’s necessary to foster it, rather than just thinking about the product. As an industry we struggle in the recruitment sphere, essentially stemming from the fact that property management is not seen as a real profession but rather just a rent collection and maintenance service.  As leaders in the industry, we must ensure that we have a stronger focus on learning and development, offering career paths to people, understanding the true meaning of leadership inside real estate businesses and knowing what our industry is really about.

The technology space has also had a significant impact on our industry over time, with more platforms released into our markets, but a question here is “does the industry truly understand the power of technology or just rely on it as a tool that collects, transfers, records and houses data?”.  We must understand that technology will only perform to it’s full capacity when we have a solid understanding of use and is extended in full use by people.

The industry is already moving towards providing a complete suite of  investment services, delivering a broader range of knowledge and client services to the marketplace.  When our people understand the needs of both tenant and landlord and are able to effectively satisfy them, the concept of clients for life becomes not only a possibility, but an achievable reality.

Marketing Your Agency

Marketing Your Agency

It is a myth in the industry that ‘marketing’ is the same as ‘advertising.’ No idea could be more wrong and even worse can destroy any plans to grow your agency beyond the the ‘traditional’ organic growth.

Marketing is much more than advertising. It is instead a broad discipline that fundamentally connects the activities and things you do to your consumer and market place. Good marketing is as much about changing your practices to meet the market as it is about promoting your agency to the market. After all, if you are not doing what your potential clients value, no amount of noise and activity will be able to overcome that.

In planning an effective marketing strategy must should start by identifying and understanding your clients and potential clients. Think about it this way, what will they want from your agency?

You then have to develop processes and systems through the various mediums to make contact with those people and establish your connection.

The final and most critical step in my opinion is to ensure that you nurture and grow over a period of time, your relationship with these people.  It will take time but your patience is the key.  People have to get to know you and your agency and trust that you will look after their needs and their assets.