Are you brimming with new ideas and strategies for your real estate business? Would you like to try a different way of doing things? Good for you. But if you’re a leader who’s an advocate of change, you need to understand what you’re up against.
“Your people are your greatest asset.” We’ve all heard the expression and at no time is it more true than when it comes to managing change. But people fear change. More than that, they often genuinely believe – sometimes on an unconscious level – that if they’ve being doing something in a particular way for a while, it must be a good way of doing things. And the longer they’ve been doing it that way, the better it is.
The bottom line is, we unconsciously equate longevity with goodness. So change isn’t simply about embracing something unknown. It’s about giving up something old (and therefore good) for something new (and therefore not good).
If you want to successfully manage change, you need to understand that this unconscious bias exists and take the necessary steps to overcome it.
How? Through communication. The success of any change process almost always depends upon the quality of communication between leaders and their team.
Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to communicating about change with your team:
Know the WIIFM
What’s In It For Me. It’s the age-old marketing credo. You can’t deny that we all like to look after #1 – and it’s no different when you’re communicating about change with your team. They’ll want to know what’s in it for them. Let's say you want to move the team to a cloud-based property management software. You are aware of the benefits, like accessibility and automatic updates- but they might not. There’s little value in standing in front of your team to tell them about the changes ahead and not provide them with context. Explain the benefits of the change and what they’ll get from it. Yes, things will be different – acknowledge that. But there’s an upside, so outline that as well.
Don’t sugarcoat it
Secrets don’t help anyone when it comes to change. Any sort of spin, sugarcoating or jargon can make it look like you’re trying to hide something. Your team will trust you more if you use simple, straightforward language and are completely upfront about what’s changing and why. Some leaders make the mistake of believing their team can’t handle the truth, but people respond well to clear, respectful and honest communication.
Pick your time
Once you’ve thought the change through and have decided to move forward, share the information with your team as soon as possible. No matter how much you try to keep things under wraps, people will eventually pick up on the fact that something is afoot. Water-cooler whispers and office gossip doesn’t help anyone. It can undermine the change process before it even gets off the ground. So stay in control and communicate with your team as soon as possible.
Change at the right rate
The change process starts with the announcement of the change. Many leaders underestimate the length of time required for a change cycle. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither do people and businesses change in a week or even a year. The right rate of change for your team will depend on how effectively you communicate with them. What are they feeling? How are they responding? Only you can determine when it’s time to move to the next stage.
Take the time to train
No one likes feeling like they don’t know what they’re doing. That’s why training plays such a critical role in the change management process. For your team to feel supported and in control, they need training. And if they’re trained, they’ll feel empowered and will better embrace what’s ahead.
Remember, there’s no one perfect way to communicate about change. Change is uncomfortable and it can sometimes be messy. A Gantt chart doesn’t automatically make for a painless change experience. Tasks are easy to list, but behaviours and long-held habits are not easy to alter. But by communicating effectively about change you can minimise discomfort and strengthen the commitment of your team in the process.