Property Management & Me

Ep15: Beating change fatigue — with Hermione Gardiner

March 01, 2024 PropertyMe Season 1 Episode 15
Property Management & Me
Ep15: Beating change fatigue — with Hermione Gardiner
Show Notes Transcript

Guest Hermione Gardiner joins Property Management & Me to tackle the pervasive issue of change fatigue among Property Managers. Delve into practical insights on adapting to rapid technological and legislative shifts and discover strategies to streamline your daily processes. Whether you're battling tech overload or looking for ways to enhance efficiency, this episode is packed with valuable advice to help you thrive in a constantly evolving industry.

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Kate: Hi, and welcome to Property Management & Me a series from PropertyMe bringing quick tips and insights to support your everyday Property Management practice. I'm your host, Kate Sunol. And today I'm joined by Hermione Gardiner from Sidekick Consulting. Our regular listeners might recall Hermione from one of our earliest recordings on understanding buyer psychology to help you win more business. It's actually one of the most downloaded episodes, so we're really excited to welcome her money back again. Thanks for joining us. 

Hermione: Thanks for having me back. I didn't know that. That's exciting. 

Kate: It is, well, it was such a great episode. And if you haven't listened to it yet, you definitely need to check that one out at some point. Today we are switching direction, we're talking about something that happens a lot of the time with Property Managers with I suppose, professionals in general, which is change fatigue. 

So today we're going to be chatting around how that impacts Property Managers in particular, with adopting to the rapidly changing technology that's out there, the legislation changes and how we can keep up with the best processes and practices to be using, to help us from a day-to-day basis. So, what are somel of the things that you're seeing Hermione, when you’re consulting with agencies.  

Hermione: Oh, gosh, yeah, it's such a, a bit of ring to it that phrase change fatigue. And I think it's probably not something that everyone's even heard the phrase of before, but you'd probably go. “Yeah, I do have a bit of change fatigue when it comes to tech and software and learning new things.”

I think we've had so much change in the Property Management industry of late and  especially with this last, I don't know, maybe 5 ish so year period where people have been moving trust programs and adding on awesome bits of supplementary tech to integrate with that. And not only is it the onboarding and learning and training of all of those new systems and getting to know almost like a new language when you're a Property Manager. But then it's how do you stay up to date with all of the amazing changes that a company like, you know, PropertyMe does implement continually and consistently, when you're just still kind of probably getting over and on top of the last changes and the last big improvements that you've made to, to your organization, whether it be in the tech or the process.

So I think that a lot of the businesses that I go into.  In a consulting capacity, it is very interesting to kind of see the look on some Property Manager’s faces and just like, “Oh gosh, more change. It's like more change. It's like we've just gotten used to doing it a certain way. And now there's more change.”

And I think as humans, we're all sort of hardwired to not really want to change because we like to stay safe and comfortable. There's some breeds that like to change, but I think, yeah, for the most part, I think a lot of Property Managers with everything that they've got with tech and legislation and everything to stay on top of, they have a lot of change fatigue and there's a lot of… not blocking of that, but I think resistance probably to some of the changes, especially when it comes to little new features and awesome things that will actually make their life better, but they're just too tired or too busy to implement them.

Kate: Absolutely. And I'd imagine there's a lot of change going through department structures, as well as people are moving through the industry. The structure of a team might change from a solo portfolio manager to having a junior back to solo again, and sometimes a tool that works for a little while. Might not work so well when you restructure the way your team works and you need to re-look at how you're piecing the bits and pieces together. 

If you're thinking about that piece as a whole and feeling quite overwhelmed and not really knowing where to start, what are some things that you'd recommend to keep top of mind if you're about to go on a change journey or just really not sure what the next steps are with improving your processes.

Hermione: Oh, yeah, I think it's probably not something like. I mean, even half of people are aware of it's probably just the hesitant to implement new features and make new changes and waiting for the time is right, or waiting for maybe someone else to take the lead and run with it. And it probably really depends on the size and type of business that you're working in.

I see the businesses where there is a dedicated Property Management Director or full-time Department Manager in those organizations. I do see change implemented and accepted a lot easier because there is a driver of that change. Where I see businesses struggle more where there is probably more a sales-focused Director and maybe not a Department Manager in place.

And maybe, you know, maybe a team or a couple or one or more or multiple Property Managers in place who are so busy doing the day-to-day that they're not kind of across what the latest changes and things that are available to them. And maybe they're just operating off the systems in the way that the person before them has shown them how to do versus really kind of looking at it from a bird's eye view and going, what would make our business faster and smarter, and what would improve the service and what would save us time and looking at it strategically.

So I think that it's probably not anything that anyone's doing intentionally. It's probably a lack of time and energy and motivation or leadership in actually driving some of those changes forward.

Kate: It's a really easy thing to slip through the cracks. I suppose it's one of those high in importance, but low in urgency tasks. So it does get postponed when the urgent priorities pop up. I know that when I've struggled to fit some of those things in I'm a little bit overzealous, but I typically try to set aside the first hour of the day or the first two hours of the week in taking ground time. 

So things that are going to make my work life easier or things that are going to make a big difference in my role, and really making those improvements then, before getting into the business as usual tasks, setting that time aside.

Hermione: Mm. Yeah. A hundred percent. 

Kate: I actually really liked what you said there about the ownership piece. And it always does work quite well when there's a manager or a leader in charge of the process, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. It is something that you could essentially decide as a team, I suppose, you know, I'm going to take ownership of this era and if there's anything that I feel we can improve in this practice. I'm going to need to take ownership of leasing or I'm going to look after our new application processes. Even though there might be multiple people involved in the steps, I'll do the research and I'll bring the ideas to the table. And I'll, I'll really champion that project.

I suppose it's sort of like a shared courtyard doesn't get swept because no one really knows who supposed to be doing it. Whereas if you divide up the responsibilities, it can be a lot easier to look at. One section that you're driving change for, and then someone else handles another one.

Hermione: Yeah, totally. It's like dipping up the chores in a share house type type arrangement. So, and I mean, it typically depends on say for me in my role and the type of business I go into, if there isn't really a clear lead, a hundred percent, I would be looking at, okay, well, if you guys are saying, you know, you're stressed and overwhelmed and you know, maybe we're losing managements, so we're not moving forward.

It's like, well. If we've got no one person leading it, then we've all got a responsibility to drive things forward and make change. And so, yeah, is there someone that can take on the leadership piece around making sure we're using the latest in the tech and rolling that out? Is there someone who can, you know, really make sure that the customer service space and we're doing surveys and feedback, whatever it is, like, it can be sort of divvied up, obviously, depending on everyone's workload. 

Or sometimes what I'll do in a business is we might look at, okay, well, is there one person who does want to step up and take on some more responsibility? And can we, maybe reduce that person's portfolio slightly to even just put them in a team lead position where they can actually be across and driving some of that change, as opposed to, you know, where there maybe isn't the capacity to have a full, you know, Department Manager in there, like some of the larger businesses are able to do.

So it depends on the business as to what the strategy is, but I think, you know, for any Property Managers listening, if you're feeling like, oh, there is no one really driving that change well, can you step up and do that? Because like, it's only going to actually make your life easier if you're, you know, looking for things that enable you to do things faster and smarter and streamline your workflows and systems.

But yeah, you're going to be busy and you're most often doing all the stuff in the day-to-day and it will take a little bit of mindset around accounting to take some time out to work on this stuff and what if you know, if you can't say an hour a day and you're like, Oh my God, I don't have an hour a day. Maybe it's like, okay, well once a month, let's just put tools down for, you know, half a day and work on improving some processes, you know, like if you've been sitting there. You know, I'm going to plug for you guys at the tasks and workflows that you've put in. If you've been sitting there looking at that going, “Oh, we really want to do that, but we just haven't had the time to move on paper checklist into these awesome, you know, task template workflows that are available.”

It's like, let's just put the time aside. Let's block it in the diary. Let's all of us, three Property Managers get together and sit down and bash it out. Like I remember back in the day, I had one of my very good work friends and I, Hannah, when we used to work together, all of the checklists needed improving. And this was before. The digital world, this is way back in the rest of the school. But this was like, we, we sat down and we actually took an evening and we ordered pizzas and we sat there and we redid all the checklist. So, and that made all of our lives easier and it made lives easier for the other Property Managers as well.

And so it's sometimes it's like, okay, well, let's. Let's put our hats on and take the lead with some of this stuff and, and spend a few hours going. Let's turn our, let's go, let's just go our leasing checklist, our vacate checklist, our new business checklist, and let's just spend a few hours getting, getting them in there.

I've done it for clients. It's doesn't take a lot of time. It just. Is time out of the day-to-day that you need to put aside for.

Kate: It's a great time of year to do it. As you sort of move from the start of your mad rush, into really starting to think about those deliverables and the projects that you want to achieve for the year. So what tools and resources. What tech support can we start to plug in to make those things happen? What would you recommend as a starting point for that? 

Hermione: I mean, you kind of start with like what you said, like if I'm, if I go into a business to do that and we do a bit of a tech stack review and we look at the systems and see, you know, what, what we're using, what we're not using. It's literally that. And, you know, maybe there's so many different pieces of tech that a lot of agencies have these days.

Like, you know, start with your trust program, start with PropertyMe, jump in and look in the help area and look at the new features and kind of just have a bit of a glance through or just set some time aside to do one of the, you know, new feature recordings that, you know, you guys put out and kind of go, okay, well, out of those three things, like, let's, let's focus on one of them.

Like, maybe it's not that you have to implement all of them because sometimes like with any, if it is a big change or a lot of change, we can kind of just inadvertently stick our heads in the sand because it's too much, but it's kind of like that. You know, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time?

It's like, just pick one thing. And you know, if that's going to take you an hour or two to sit aside and, you know, learn about it and then talk about it as a team and seek feedback on it and then kind of make one person, you know, in your team, the champion of rolling that out and making that work. Because it doesn't always have to be the one person as well.

Like if you can kind of go, Hey, there's this new thing. Who wants to drive that? Like maybe someone wants to put their hand up because they really love accounts and they wanted to do something to do with billing and accounts, or maybe it's about, you know, maybe it's about rent reviews and someone's obsessed with that.

So it's like, you know, you can divvy that up between the team to work out, Okay, well, how do we just kind of get little chunks of improvements done and start to use some of those new features, whether that is from PropertyMe or any of the, the tech systems, and just gradually review it. You don't have to do it all at once.

Because I think sometimes you'll go, oh, I have to do a tech review, make sure we're using everything. And then it's just something that sits on the list for a long period of time and then months and months go by and they're still saying the same thing. So it's like, just pick one thing, pick one hour, pick one day and just start with something as that, you know, if you just get 1 percent each better each day that James Clear quote from Atomic Habits is if you get one, 1 percent better each day, you'll be 37 times better by the end of the year.

So it's sort of like, if we just keep making small improvements, it doesn't have to be taking whole days and weeks out to fix things. It can just be little things every day, every week will actually continue to move the business forward.  

Kate: Yeah, and I think Property managers have that good gut feeling of I think this is taking longer than it should I feel like there's a better way to do this so it can be the next time that you come across one of those things like this feels like a really clunky process or this feels like it should be smoother, is stop and just have a look at that one process and then as you do it work out some better ways to do it and then just slowly implement them into your practice as you go.

It could be something simple like if you're getting a lot of emails from tenants asking where their rent's paid up to is maybe do a template with a few screenshots or something to help them look in the app and see where they're paid up to. So that reduces the amount that are coming in. They might ask you once and you respond with the template and it takes a little while for it to roll through, but eventually you're just building that skill set within. So you don't need to be called every time or emailed every time and just implementing those little things as you go along can really make a big difference at the end of the day, like you said, the one percenters. 

Hermione: Yeah, just doing it. And those are great things to kind of bring up and talk about at you know, at weekly team meetings.

I guess so many clients said, “Oh, our team meetings are just boring. We go through the same stats every week.” I'm like, okay, well flip it. Like, let's talk about what's not working. What do we get complaints on this week and use it as problem-solving time, you know, and kind of go, okay, well, what would we. Well, if that's a common thing that keeps coming in, I can go like, what could we do to prevent us needing to answer that over and over again? Or save us the five minutes it's taking us each time to write that email. You know, often it's so, it's actually so fast to go in and make that change to the template or, just change your checklist or do one little thing differently, that actually can then save you those five minutes that you're spending, you know, five, 10, 15, 25 times a week.

So all of those little things where you think, Oh, it's just five minutes. It doesn't matter that much if I just keep writing an email, like it does add up over time when we talk about  productivity and profitability and efficiency in any business, like those little things actually do matter at the end of the day.

So yeah, it could be just a case of every week. It's like, well, what's not working? What are we getting frustrated with? What are our clients getting frustrated with? And, you know, typically, like as an example, if I do go through and do procedure reviews in a consultative manner with my clients, we typically start with, okay, well, you know, if we're going through, you know, if we're going through leasing, right, we go, okay, what are the common frustrations we have with leasing?

What are the common frustrations and blockages that we're having from our tenants? And we kind of do a bit of a brain dump of all the things that are frustrating or blockages are going wrong or that aren't working before we then dive in and go through that literally whole process step by step, make a clear procedure on it, make all the updates to the templates, make sure that they're all, you know, maybe we're using the same email template for our holding deposit that we've been using for the last, you know,15 years in our organization, but we're still getting the same question.

So let's go and update it or break it down or make it look different, you know, so that we can actually be improving that based on what's actually frustrating us and challenging us and taking the most time, if that makes sense. 

Kate: Yeah, absolutely. We've covered a lot of the, you know, the practical tips to roll out change, finding the times of the day and finding different ways to sort of improve things as you go from a leadership perspective, if this is something you really want to drive from the top, you want to introduce that culture of being agile to change and open to it and just having it as part of that process of working. Are there any tips you've got on sort of that journey of bringing it in?  

Hermione: Yeah, a hundred percent. And it's quite common when I'm talking to businesses and even when I used to work in software and tech, you know, I've, I've worked in it from, you know, from your side of the coin too.

So I'd be the software provider kind of going like, “Hey, why isn't the team doing this day to day? Or why haven't they? You know, embraced the piece of tech.” And it was very interesting now coming from that to now working, you know, as a consultant with the businesses on the other side and supporting their integration of tech into the businesses.

And the success of, you know, any tech or change really does come down to whoever's driving that in the organization and the approach and consistency of that person. So it's for that leader or the person driving it. Do the team feel like they've been included in communication around the fact that this new feature or change is coming on?

Have they been, briefed on how that change is going to be rolled out? Have they been given the opportunity to give feedback on their concerns and their input around it? And then is there consistency in the rollout? Is it like, hey, here's the way we're doing things and good luck, and then we never talk about it again. Or is it like, Hey, let's do the rollout of it. And now let's check in on it regularly and make sure there's a consistent approach to supporting that change. 

That sort of change management pace is a really big, important factor to make the team who is going through the change feel included and on board with it and embracing that change. And so they feel like they have a voice, even if stuff's not going right. So I say, “Hey, I'm frustrated with this or this isn't working.” And there's someone there to kind of troubleshoot that and go, okay, well, how can we make it work? Or what, you know, what do we need to do differently, perhaps in the way we do things to fully embrace this change, which is going to benefit our clients and us.

And, you know, all the talk about all the benefits along the way. So I think from a leadership perspective, it's about that consistency base in how you're approaching change. And I would say it's like how you do one thing is how you do everything. So as a leader, we want to be consistent anyway to give our team that that trust and reassurance that we're going to be there to back them through any change or any challenge that comes up.

Kate: Great. I love it, thank you so much for joining us today, Hermione. If our listeners want to reach out and continue the conversation with you, how can they get in touch? 

Hermione: Yeah, for sure, if anyone needs any help or support with change in the business, obviously I'm always here to have a chat. Otherwise you can reach out through my website, or come chat to me on my socials @hermionegardiner on Instagram. Probably where I spend the most time, unfortunately, scrolling, like we all do.  So come say hi.