Last year… 2021… what a year. And 2020. And the start of 2022. The last 760 or so days of our lives as people and as professionals have been disrupted in a way few of us have every experienced before.
We’ve all had moments of fear, confusion, frustration and a yearning for family, holidays, certainty and freedom.
But now we’re back.
Despite the state of the world right now, many of us have returned to the office at the start of this year, with the intention to jump back on the bike, forget all the challenges of years gone by, and find our stride the exact same way we always have before.
We’ll be making calls, hitting the pavement, lining up inspections and opens, and knocking down sales and leases.
But for some of us, finding that pace, that commitment, embracing those long hours and hard weekends, won’t come as naturally as it does to others, and that’s completely ok.
Such an extended period of change and insecurity is bound to challenge the resilience of some, if not all of us.
As a manager in an agency, helping your team feel motivated and focused again after Christmas holidays and two years of Covid, may be a hurdle you need to overcome in your office. Here are some simple tips to rebuild some lost structure and recreate that winning culture.
Set or discuss KPIs
There’s nothing more motivating than a set of clear KPIs, especially when they are tied into commissions or reimbursement of any kind.
Many agencies already had KPIs and held onto them throughout the Covid period, but some agencies that aren’t as focused on business planning, may not have them in place. Well, this is the year!
Work with your team and your finance manager to set targets and stretch goals that give staff an indication of where they need to be and what really achieving looks like.
Remember, your front office staff or non-sales/property management staff may also be feeling a little worn out too, and KPIs don’t have to be aligned purely with sales or leases – have a chat to them about expectations and encourage or incentive agreed goal achievement.
At the start of Covid, a lot of offices were great at communication. People were working from different locations, and we knew, to keep things together, we really had to up our game on staying in touch and sharing news and insights.
As Covid progressed, and we got used to ‘the new norm’, in some businesses, the level of communication dropped back, and people started to feel isolated or information was lost.
Now we’re back on track, look at your internal office communication – staff meetings, one-on-ones, sales meetings, emails, updates – and ensure your team has access to all the information they need, when they need it, so they feel motivated and equipped to do their jobs well.
Gamify the office
Real estate isn’t a game, we all know that – but we also know when people feel a sense of competition, it can really wake them up and get them razor-focused.
To gamify your office, you can start an internal competition, or several, based on the different roles within your team. You can introduce something as simple as employee of the month with a fun and coveted prize, or look around at other local offices and use them as incentive.
Invest in culture
This is probably the most important point, whether your office is feeling a little unfocused or not.
Internal culture is what drives your entire business – its sets the pace, the vibe and even retains or repels employees.
A lot of us just let ‘culture’ happen naturally, but when things feel a little tired or times have been a bit tough, letting things happen organically can result in lower morale and therefore, decreased productivity.
A happy, connected, unified team is one that produces more, wins more, and brings in more dollars.
Reconnecting your team can be as simple as a spontaneous Friday afternoon barbeque, with care not to impinge on your team’s family time or their prep for Saturday opens and inspections.
It can be a change in pace at the weekly team meeting, with a little fun thrown in, that injection of competition mentioned earlier, or a shared and genuine celebration of victories from the last week – which so often get overlooked.
If you want and need to take it up a notch, combining a fun external activity, where everyone can have a laugh – like bowling or putt putt or specifically-created team-building events – can be a great time, but should always be combined with an ongoing effort in the office.
One of the biggest mistakes made when trying to build a positive culture, is investing in one-offs or gimmicky events, and failing to follow up with office-based efforts, such as better communication and regular catch ups.
Overall, what’s most important to remember right now, is that everyone has come off the back of some serious change over recent years, and it’s to be expected that people will handle the return to ‘normal life’ in different ways.
Everyone might seem fine now, but burn out may just be that little bit quicker this year than it has in previous years.
Keep an eye on your staff and how they are feeling and performing, and don’t forget to check in – most times people will tell you what’s going on and are very open to a little help or a pep talk, they just may not be as willing or comfortable starting the conversation.