The start of every year is a natural time to be thinking of how we can grow ourselves and our businesses in the year ahead, but this year it seems especially important.
2020 had barely had time to start before plans were torn up and the following 18 months felt like we were all working extra hard at adapting and simply surviving.
So take some time at the beginning of 2022 to reflect and ask some important questions about what will enable you to thrive professionally and personally.
The property industry is full of people who have an ‘always-on’ mentality; finding it hard to switch off from work. For some this is just a mindset with which they live their lives, for others it is driven by necessity due to the demands of clients working in different time zones, or needing out of hours response at the drop of a hat. To sustain this can bring its challenges.
I was struck when talking to the MD of a property management company to learn his ambition for 2022 was that he did not want work to take over his life as it usually did. This year had been challenging for the business and they did well, but it had come at a cost and he had neglected a number of things that he wanted to prioritise this year – his family and his health so he was building KPIs around his personal goals to sit alongside his business goals – and give them equal time and attention.
So here are some tips and questions to reflect on that may assist you, your team, your family and your business make 2022 a significant year for you.
Team Reflection: Carry out a team review
As part of your start of year preparations, I would recommend carrying out a review with your team. Asking their opinions won’t just help everyone feel valued, but will provide you with valuable and diverse insights and create a winning team spirit of collaboration to kick the new year off.
Ask everyone to complete the following sentences of their reflections over the last year:
- I am most proud of…
- The hardest thing at work has been…
- We can support each other more by…
- My biggest learning has been…
- To achieve more in 2022 we need to…
- This year I want to achieve…
Q. What reflections resonated the most with you and what new commitments have you made as a team?
Keep it Simple
The CEO of a property development company I work with is a firm believer in having one over-riding goal that becomes a mantra within the business. For him that is ‘Buy Land’ for others it could be ‘generate cash’ ‘get more customers’ or ‘innovate’.
This driver is the core message within the business this year and they challenge each other when making decisions by asking ‘how does this relate to buying more land’? If it does not they question its importance.
Q. What is the most important goal for you this year?
Stay tuned into your clients and customers’ needs
Q. Do you know their number one priority and their main concern? Have you asked them?
Once you know this ensure you have a diverse team that could respond and add value from a number of different perspectives so you are generating fresh ideas and reflecting their priorities in your own activities and knowledge.
Demonstrating an understanding of what is important to them – such as mega-trends, technology, finance, planning, placemaking – will increase the trust they have in you and the team.
Personal Reflection: Build one new habit
An entrepreneur of an estate agency that has seen significant growth this year spoke of the weekly 7am walk he has with a neighbour who also has his own business. It began as an exercise regime but it has now become a non-negotiable meeting in his diary that provides clarity.
Some of his best thinking and ideas have come from this and the feel good factor of contributing and listening to a colleague and friend is a great source of satisfaction. This builds his physical and mental fitness.
Positive daily habits promote self-care and help us manage our mental fitness.
Q. What is one habit that you would like to build this year? Make a decision to take the first step to do it
Set some boundaries
A partner in a global property agency who has had a record year this year told me that she encourages her team to be mindful of the practices they create. ‘If you reply to emails on Sunday afternoon you are setting an expectation’.
When you care about your work it is easy to let go of boundaries that are important to you.
Likewise, in a meeting of women in the property industry recently, I was intrigued by a colleague who had made the decision not to have emails on her new phone.
This has enabled her to have down time without the relentless habit of looking at emails – reducing the ‘always on’ mentality. Many in the conversation made the point that we can’t change the behaviour of our clients or colleagues but we can change our own.
Q. What are your boundaries? What boundaries do you want your team to withhold? Are their ones that have been lost that you want to restore?
Work and home balance
A property lawyer reported to me that the constant back-to-back Zoom meetings, that have become a habit, has meant that the only time to catch up on is at the end of the day – so the work day has become longer.
She also recognised that the next two years were particularly important as her two children were going to be leaving home for boarding school and university and she knew she would never have this time back. She enjoys her work and it is a priority so we worked through how to put in place structures and habits that are sustainable and that help rebalance her two priorities so that they aren’t conflicting.
Q. How have your priorities changed and what practices have you put in place to sustain a balanced lifestyle?
Business Reflection – Undertake a culture health check
More and more people are making decisions on whether to join or leave a business based on its social values and culture. Having the right company culture is fundamental to having a high performing team and business, and clients are selecting companies and suppliers that align with their values. The pandemic has created a forced change to culture and has also acted as a breaker that gives you the chance to undertake a culture health check.
I recently heard of a business that has introduced the policy that all internal meetings are scheduled after 9.15am and before 4.30 pm so they do not exclude those with childcare duties at the start and end of the day.
Q. Does your company culture genuinely support diversity, inclusion and ESG? What can you change to demonstrate these values?
Where you are at the end of 2022 will be determined by the decisions you make during your start of the year reflections. Make this valuable investment of time so you, your team, your business and your family enjoy a great year.