Property Management & Me

Ep10: Supporting staff through change — with Sarah Dawson

August 21, 2023 PropertyMe Season 1 Episode 10
Property Management & Me
Ep10: Supporting staff through change — with Sarah Dawson
Show Notes Transcript

"From a leadership perspective, I think that the goal is to help people to find their value in the new way of working."
— Sarah Dawson

This episode features  tips from Sarah Dawson and Kate Sunol from PropertyMe on how to support your staff through change by sharing the vision and guiding them to find their value.

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Kate:  Hi and welcome to property management and me a series from PropertyMe bringing quick tips and insights to support your everyday practice. I'm your host Kate Sunol. and today I'm joined by our Chief Customer Officer Sarah Dawson. Welcome Sarah.

Sarah: Thanks, Kate. Great to be here. 

Kate: Thanks for joining us it’s really great to have you here. Sarah and I recently attended the Stafflink conference on the Gold Coast. Which just really brought a lot of conversations around AI, tech adoption and change management. And considering how to build stronger profit margins within your business and to support your team. There's now tech stacking and outsourcing as really strong contenders to consider on top of those traditional models. So there were heaps of conversations on the right way to structure for your team, but we kept circling back to that change management piece. You always want to be supporting in developing your staff of course. But even more so in the current landscape, it's so crucial. Sarah, you had some really great insights into this area. Do you mind sharing a bit about what you've seen in this space?

Sarah: Yeah, sure. So I think you know, over the last 20-plus years in this space, there's been so much change and I think, you know we always have a laugh and a joke about the processes that were you know, once upon a time when I was working in real estate back in the day compared to, compared to now and I don't think that there's many of those areas that were manual back in the day, 20 years ago, that we would want to move back to, you know, doing without automation and over the period of, you know, that time working in property management and the tech space.

Managing teams through those changes, as well as helping businesses manage through those changes has given me quite a lot to work with, I guess, in being able to see what works and what doesn't, for example, you know, I remember back in the day and we would always need to, you know, we would have competitors in the space that would be, that would be implementing and changing and having new themes tech involved.

And we would always freak out and think, Oh, somebody's got a Palm Pilot or somebody's got this and we need to have those things. And, you know, we need to always scramble and make sure that we're all producing the same. But I think what I've learned over the years is that we definitely need to look at how we can help a customer first, and look at the problem that we're trying to solve.

You know, that often customers will say to us, Oh, we need this button here, or we need to be able to do it this way. And I think as the prop tech is such a busy space and tech has advanced so much. It's really important to look at the actual process, that we're trying to automate or to help, businesses become more operationally efficient in before, uh we just jump in and then think that we need to hit the market in that way.

Kate: Really looking at what you're doing and optimizing what you're doing rather than comparing yourself and can you visualize what you want to achieve out of this and the benefit from a day-to-day or from a long term perspective.

Change management is about so many different things. You know, it's about. First of all, understanding the problem, and it's about really getting people around you invested in what that could look like. So you may already have an idea of where you want to be with a, with a process. So you might think, yep, we need to review Onboarding a tenant, for example, and as a leader, you might think, okay, I've got a solution here. I think I, you know, I can see where this should be getting those stakeholders involved and engaged in that and understanding the intricacies of the people that are in the seats and that are actually managing that process first is the 1st step.

Then secondly, testing out your ideas. So you're sharing with them what you think it could look like and painting a vision and a story around that, seeing what reaction you get from the team and then being, I guess, humble and vulnerable enough to change direction if you need to, and then look at because we'll have to put the tech side in there because that's what I do.

But then look at the tech that can support you in that. And I think there's something that came out of, at Stafflink conference was Very much in talking to a lot of our larger customers was around really thinking about the adoption of new features and or new services, whether it be outsourced or, you know, VAs Or whatever it might be and thinking about what you want that customer journey to look like. And I think, involving the team around you in that journey as well so that they feel invested in in why they don't feel threatened or vulnerable to the change of implementation of something new. 

Kate: One of the things I actually used to do when I was bringing new trainees on into the industry is I'd say spend about two months going and doing the experience of renting. If you've never rented before, go to 10 different agencies, open homes and experience that before you then think about the experience that you'd want to give to customers, and there's so many extra factors of that when you, when you go through it yourself. 

Sarah: Yeah, that's so true. And, you know, years ago when I was running, you know, sales teams before, and I remember part of the onboarding process of having new team members come into that seat was to actually spend a day or, you know, whether it was a week or whatever the process was at the time, but they would spend a day on reception.

They would spend a day in listening on support. They would spend a day sitting next. to, you know, or sitting in next to a VA and, you know, really understanding what each of those roles were, because then they're able to share what that journey is for a customer, and get closer to that and then they can sell the story.

Yeah. So, I think that unless you understand something, it's very difficult to put it forward to somebody else.

Kate: Having team invested in that solution absolutely makes a huge difference to the end result. Something that's often mentioned when we talk about transitioning to new models of working is that you'll lose staff through the process. Do you think that's inevitable or are there things that you could do to identify who might struggle the most and help them through that?

Sarah: I think it would be really sad if it were inevitable that staff were lost along the way. I think some people would opt, you know, it might be just time, and they may, you know, make that choice for themselves. But from a leadership perspective, I think that the goal is to help people to find their value in the new way of working, and if they choose not to be part of that new journey, then that's a decision that may come out of, I guess, that evaluation process.

But I think there are ways that you can engage all team members to find new value in the process. So, for example, as you were. Introducing new tech, you know, if there was a new feature that came out and it might put some limitation on the need for somebody to do a particular role, you know, trust accounting is very prominent at the moment, you know, people talking about that particular role and how that can change and what the operational cost is there and I think that you know, I remember years ago when we were selling them And there were products that were coming out that were actually going to minimize, you know, that trust account and role and it was going to make it easier and businesses and business owners sometimes would say, but what will that person do?

And I think that that's, you know, really important for us as PropTech leaders, but also for business owners to understand where, how they can help that person navigate into something new that's still valuable to them and also then valuable to the business. valuable to the business at the same time.

Kate: Because it's a personal growth and a personal development piece as well, if you are growing the business into those new solutions and those new offerings is bringing that team along the journeys might be developing new skills, or it might be repurposing them into another area. So, for me, I would look at that and go the skills that a trust accountant would have would immediately be transferable to your compliance, your documents, your contracts, your lease renewals

Sarah: Any of those things that they could be doing, you know, there's different and  I like the phrase now that, you know, tech can manage property, but people, individuals can manage people, you know, so you're not necessarily a property manager anymore, but you can be a people manager and manage those relationships.

And I think from an operational cost perspective, business owners are definitely looking for that. You know, they're looking for platforms to be able to take away the mundane work so they can actually grow the people that are in the seats and help them to evolve into something new. You know, gone are the days that we have to sit behind a computer behind a laptop and make things happen. It's, it's reversed so much now that it's actually the tech is driving you out of your seat and into managing people and having relationships with your, with the people within your portfolios and within your business. And I think, you know, there's a lot of value in that particularly coming off the back of the last two years and, and the value of, property managers or people that it wasn't confused. During COVID because everybody was sent home. And so that people management piece had to have had to change. You know, a lot of things were done remotely, you know, leasing property. And there were some great things that came out of that as well. People adopted tech that maybe they wouldn't have earlier on and helped their teams to find their value in other things rather than just doing busy work. 

Kate: Yes. It definitely pushed us along at a rapid pace. 

Sarah: It did. It slowed us down some, but it sped us up in other ways. 

Kate: So if you were a leader and thinking that I completely agree, that all sounds really great. How do I take my team on that journey? How do I start those conversations, where do I go in distilling that that direction, those values, does it start with, I mean, we always hear, you know, vision, mission, purpose. Is that important in that process? You have to know, you need to know what motivates an individual, to start that journey because it's not.

Sarah: It's, it's personal,  it's so personal, you know, coming to work, you spend most of your waking hours at work, regardless of what you do, the majority of us do that, and they, they spend most of their waking hours there, so getting close enough to understand, and not just assuming that people are motivated necessarily by money, some people are motivated by time, other people are motivated by recognition, you know, what, what is it that's motivating the individual?

I've, I've always looked at that first, because if you don't know that, then it's very difficult to find, to help somebody find job satisfaction if you don't know what their fundamental core values are and what's important to them. And I think that you, some, in most cases, you'd probably be surprised when you ask that question.

I think most people think, oh, you've got to work for money, you know, but I think,  there are different drivers. So. I think that that's the first bit. If you're going through an evolution of, of change in a business, it's about understanding your people first. Understanding individual needs, understanding individual requirements, and then looking at that growth path and then how the moving pieces that you're changing in the process are going to affect that person and their recognition or value or motivation at the end of it.

And if you understand that, then you're able to map that journey for somebody much easier.

Kate: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much, Sarah, for joining us here today on Property Management + Me, we're really excited about some of the guests that we've got coming up from our community and from within our property meeting. But if you have a story or some insights that you'd love to share with our community, please feel free to reach out to We'd love to have a chat thanks for listening and we'll catch you next fortnight for our next episode of Property Management + Me.