Embracing technology has enabled this team leader to better support both her team and her clients during successive Melbourne lockdowns.
OBrien Real Estate’s rental department manager, Anna Molinaro, was in the so-called “eye of the storm” during the most intensive lockdown in Melbourne last year, as property managers scrambled to assist distressed and struggling tenants and landlords.
Speaking on a recent episode of The WIRE, she acknowledged just how tough the industry can be, highlighting the oft-quoted statistic that 30 per cent of property managers have left the industry in a 12-month period.
Despite the stress of lockdowns, Ms Molinaro’s own team escaped relatively unscathed — which she has credited both to a familial relationship and the magic of technology.
“One thing that COVID has really taught us is how technology has absolutely shifted and changed our world. We’ve had to adapt very, very quickly and embrace change with technology and all the paperless tools,” she said.
“Having our team really closely knit also helped… We’d often do Zoom catch-ups and just check in with people to see how they’re doing, not just professionally… but personally as well.
“I think wellness and wellbeing throughout this time has been a really important part of the lockdown periods that we faced.”
But while technology does bring them closer together, Ms Molinaro has also made it a point to teach her team to step back.
“People are burnt out. They don’t know how to ‘stop’ in this whole lockdown thing where you’re working from home and work is your home, home is your work. So, we’ve actually trained to step away,” she said.
“Because the work is going to be there the next day.”
For Ms Molinaro, along with keeping their clients satisfied, the wellness of her team has been of utmost importance through multiple lockdowns.
From her perspective, gone are the days of the real estate industry being “thick-skinned and tough, where you always have to hold your head up high, be confident and smile”.
Expressing the importance of leaders taking “the wellness and mental health and wellbeing of their staff really, really seriously”, Ms Molinaro added that “the fact of the matter is that lockdown has been really difficult for so many people and it’s really challenged people in all different ways”.
Ms Molinaro indicated her role in connecting her team to various professionals in order to ensure their physical, mental and emotional wellness, including kinesiologists and the like.
She said: “You need to really encourage your staff to want to be on board [with bettering themselves] and, of course, give them the tools.
“There’s so many resources out there, but I think training and being in a space with like-minded people… where we’re open and talking about it all is the best advice that I can give.”
Ms Molinaro is encouraging fellow property managers to welcome a new approach into educating and developing their teams.
“We’re going to see a lot more training in our space towards the mental health and wellbeing of the person rather than just saying, ‘This is how you do real estate. This is how you book a listing presentation. This is how an appraisal is conducted’,” she continued.
“I think it’s going to be more about what’s in your mind, and let’s really feed that mind and make sure that we’re the healthiest that we can be, both mentally and physically.”
Naturally, managing a business and a team virtually entails big changes when you are used to operating face to face — some of which could be difficult for some leaders to adapt to.
But Ms Molinaro said that it’s worth embracing technology if it means creating a space of comfort for both clients and employees.
As a department manager, she outlined that she is sure to champion change by being the first in line in trying out new tools, programs, systems and processes, so that her team can move forward in a new direction confidently.
“It is going to make our world a lot less stressful the more that we embrace it... We’re moving forward all the time, right? So, the more that we embrace the change, the easier our job is going to become,” she said.
“I think it’s quite exciting to adapt to the change and see how property management has evolved with these tools and technology, and at the end of the day, once you grasp that new tool or piece of technology, it does actually make your life easier.
“It’s just taking that first step of getting there, embracing it, and just going with it.”
Listen to the full conversation with Anna Molinaro here.