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Where are all the men in residential property management?


I recently attended three functions in two days which discussed the topic of diversity in the workforce. It prompted me to think about the residential property management sector, which i South Australia rather than being male dominated (which is often the theme of such events), this sector is heavily skewed towards women. Why is this the case?

I spent the early part of my career in residential property management working with 5 people, all women. My business, Edge Recruitment works with a large number of residential agencies and by far the majority of residential property management staff are women, as are most of the people that register with our organisation looking for property management roles.

 Two factors that I see contributing to this include: 

  • Traditionally, property managers have worked their way through the ranks of a real estate office, from administration level, through to property management assistant, then into property management. As the majority of admin staff are female, this flows through into property management. 
  • Salaries are lower in residential property management compared to roles at an equivalent level of responsibility in other industries. If males are the main income producer (which has historically been the case, but is changing), the salary may not have been at a level which was sustainable, with a definite ceiling to the maximum amount that could be earned.

To get a different perspective, I spoke with Darren Hunter, one of Australia's most highly respected and foremost property management trainers. At the risk of starting a battle of the sexes, Darren believes it is primarily related to the ability of women to be better at multi-tasking. Women inherently have more to juggle on a daily basis outside of their work-life (often running a household, managing children, shopping, cooking etc.), and can transfer those skills to the fast-paced and diverse role that is residential property management. 

Peter Treacy - Senior Property Manager at Harris Real Estate and winner (on more than one occasion) of REISA’s - Award for Excellence for Property Manager of the Year, is of a different opinion.  He sees the historical nature of reception/admin staff being promoted into property management as a key contributor. 

However, Peter believes there are more men coming into residential property management than ever before. He has observed that men aren't coming in at entry level, rather transitioning over from other industries in their 30's and 40's. This enables them to use their life skills and experience to cope better with the demands of property management. An increase in salary levels and raising the bar of the level of professionalism in the industry has also made the role more attractive as a career option. 

Both men agree that the imbalance doesn't necessarily need to be addressed - that it is just the way it is. Research would tell us that diversity is generally seen as important to a balanced and productive workforce. The question of whether women are innately better property managers, and whether we need to address the issue of gender diversity in residential property management I will throw over to you! What are your thoughts?

Read more about Darren Hunter

Read more about Peter Treacy

Who Pays for the Coffee?


A tongue-in-cheek look at the protocol of coffee meetings.

More than ever before we meet for business at a coffee shop. In the past, it was considered an informal way to meet, but increasingly it has become a place where networks are built and deals are done. Most business people have experienced that uncomfortable moment when the coffees have been ordered and each person awkwardly waits for the other to reach for their wallet. So, the pressing question remains - who pays for the coffee?

Here is my take on the correct protocol:   

  • The person who requested the meeting pays for the coffee. That is unless the person who requested the meeting is going to give business to the other party, or do them some sort of favour. For example, if you are meeting someone who wants to discuss possible job opportunities at your workplace.
  • If you are in South Australia and meeting a client for who works for local or state government at a coffee shop, you can't pay for the coffee. Due to laws surrounding abuse of public office, government workers cannot provide gifts to clients and suppliers. This includes small items such as coffee, so this instance, they will need to pay. Otherwise you can both have water, but that may make the coffee shop owner grumpy.
  • Do you have to order coffee? In short no - but unless it’s a really hot day it may seem unusual to invite someone for coffee and then not have one. Best to order something to be polite.
  • What if you don't drink coffee you ask? It is perfectly acceptable to order tea as a substitute for coffee. An iced coffee or bottle juice is also fine; however, it may be stretching the relationship if you expect your meeting buddy to pay for a $10 green smoothie with a shot of wheatgrass.
  • If you arrive early should you order a coffee? No - unless you really need a coffee fix and are paying for your coffee and your guests. Otherwise you risk looking tight if they arrive, you are drinking coffee and expect them to buy their own.
  • Can I order food? No. Unless it has been pre-arranged that you will both be eating (in which case you have organised to meet for lunch, not coffee) don't order food. Nothing is more awkward than one person eating while the two of you are trying to have a free-flowing conversation.
  • What if the person you invited decides to order food when you get there? That is fine, especially if they are going to give you some sort of business or doing you a favour. If that’s not the case, they just may be trying to get a free lunch.
  • Does it matter where we go for coffee? Absolutely. If you want to be seen out and about having coffee, head for the busiest coffee shops in your local business district. If discretion is important, consider your local McDonalds where the coffee is improving and your audience will be teenagers skipping school and frazzled mums with toddlers.

I hope this has cleared up some of the potential minefields around coffee meetings. Here's to the success of your next meeting!

By Jane Carey


Domestic Violence Is A Workplace Issue


I had the privilege of meeting Rosie Batty this week, 2015 Australian of the Year and domestic violence campaigner. Rosie’s son Luke was murdered by his father in an act of domestic violence in 2014, and she has subsequently gone on with poise and grace to lobby to make domestic violence a bigger community issue. Rosie has created a movement which has had a huge impact across Australian society – a courageous and admirable effort.  

One of the issues that Rosie addressed that I hadn’t previously considered was the role that employers can play in helping victims of domestic violence. For victims – usually female – financial hardship can be one of the key factors in them not leaving a violent relationship.  I can only imagine the turmoil in trying to hold down a job while dealing with the mental and physical turmoil of domestic violence.  

So how could an employer help in this situation?  

  • Tune in to staff who seem to be struggling and without being invasive, ask if everything is ok. People may not open up but they may is given the opportunity.
  • Make provisions for leave or flexible working arrangements if you have been confided in. Being a good member of society extends into being a good leader and employer.
  • Talk to line managers and senior leaders to raise awareness of domestic violence and how to support victims and survivors. Ensure all staff have an understanding of the impacts of domestic and family violence on individuals and in the workplace.
  • Discuss the short and longer term needs and requirements of affected employees if they confide in you or another staff member. Regularly check in with the affected employee and keep the lines of communication open.  

A really important message that came out of listening to Rosie speak was that many of us are not in a position to help victims of domestic violence, mostly due to a lack of knowledge and resources. What we should do however is (in Australia) contact the domestic violence helpline on 1800 RESPECT to get advice on how we can help.  

I don’t profess to have any experience in this area or by any means have an expert opinion, but as an owner of a business and a community member I believe it is our moral obligation to extend a caring hand to victims and play our part in helping wherever we can. What you walk past you condone and domestic violence should no longer be hidden behind closed doors - we must all support victims of this important issue.

Secrets of My Business Success


Last week the business I co-founded celebrated 18 years in business. I was 22 at the time we started and hoped we would make it past the 12 month mark, which would mean we had the makings of a potential successful business. I never imagined my business would have such longevity and upon reflection there is a lot to celebrate and consider. 

Here are a few of the things I have learnt along the way:

  • Celebrate the wins often! Step back and recognise your achievements as often as you can, big or small.
  • It’s ok to not always have the answer on the spot. Sometimes I need time to think whether a deal is in my best interest, if I want to work harder on a solution or I have been caught on the hop and don’t have all the information I need. I have learnt to say “I will come back to you with an answer/solution” and no one has ever demanded that I must provide an answer immediately in this situation.    
  • You need a very broad skill set to run a business and it is important to know what you are good at and where to get help. The most successful business people surround themselves with experts which plug the gaps. Even a small business owner can do this. Accounting not your thing? Invest in an excellent bookkeeper for a few hours a week. Yes you need to understand the finances of your business, but that doesn’t mean spending hours coding and paying invoices is best use of your time. That goes for all areas of the business such as marketing, legal, HR/recruitment etc       
  • Running a business is hard!  It can be mentally and physically challenging, it impacts on your personal relationship with partners and family members and takes on a life of its own. But even on the toughest days the rewards still outweigh the challenges. If they don't, consider doing something else!       
  • Great employees are like absolute gold and should be treated that way. Those people that help build your business, make work a priority over other things in their life and treat each other and clients like it was their own business are rare and should be rewarded.
  • Owning a business can be a lonely space. At the end of the day only the business owner can make the call and deal with the consequences. Other people can have an opinion but it is not their customer, their relationship with a client, employee or their personal assets on the line.
  • It makes me proud to be able to say "I have my own business!" Not everyone can do it and I have!
  • You can’t keep everyone happy all of the time. Sometimes you have to accept that you have done the best you can in a situation.
  • Sometimes people just need to hear “I made a mistake and I am sorry”. It is not a weakness to say this –  it is actually a strength that shows you have acknowledged a problem and allows you to work towards a solution.
  • Naivety in business can be a good thing. I miss the days of less analysis and structure with an approach of working it out as you go. Naivety can produce a more open minded view, less constriction and a “say yes – work out the solution later” view.  · 
  • Success comes in many forms. It could be turning a profit, landing a national client, earning a tiny fee (or no fee!) but making a big impact on another person or company or developing an idea or product. Business owners have to define their own success and what is driving them to achieve, comparing yourself to others is not always relevant or productive.

Eighteen years on there is still so much to learn and I am looking forward to the challenges and rewards being in business continues to bring. In the meantime it is a great opportunity to stop and celebrate this milestone!

Personality clash is not a get-out-of-jail-free card


How many times have you heard that someone left their job because they had a personality clash with a manager or co-worker?  For some reason some employees seem to think this is a self-explanatory get out of jail free card that will require little explanation. The reason for this attitude is because, in my experience, most interviewers at this stage nod their head and move on. STOP! If you are interviewing someone and that is the response – dig deeper!

The dictionary meaning of a personality clash is: “when two (or more) people find themselves in conflict not over a particular issue or incident, but due to a fundamental incompatibility in their personalities, their approaches to things, their style of life”.

 In my experience “personality clash” may also be code for:

  • Did not like my manager/work colleague and made it known
  • Did not like to be told what to do and subsequently took a dislike to that person
  • Found difficulty in not taking what was a work related issue personally

 Here are some things to establish during the interview:

  • Has this happened in any other roles the person has been in - can you see a pattern developing?
  • What did they do to try and manage the situation?
  • Was the clash with a manager or a work colleague?
  • Were they the only person in the organisation that was in this situation?

Now I am not suggesting for a minute that personality clashes don’t occur – they do, a lot, and especially in such a diverse environment as a workplace.  The key consideration must be how did the person go about handling the situation.  What I would want to know is:

  • Did the person try using a different approach to achieve the outcomes required (were they flexible?)
  • Other people weren’t dragged into the situation, and the person in question remained civil and professional
  • If necessary (and appropriate) were higher level management made aware of the situation?
  • Did the person have resilience and tried for a reasonable amount of time to work with the individual in question?

We have all worked with people who just “clash” with everyone.  But the key here is to make sure that the person you are interviewing isn’t going to be that next person in your office!

What are your thoughts?

How growing up in the country prepared me for business


I count myself extremely lucky to have grown up in a tight knit farming community in the mid north of South Australia called Booleroo Centre. It was only when I moved to Adelaide aged 17 for work that I realised a town of 300 people is actually really really small!

Looking back my country upbringing installed some early and great skills that have helped me succeed in business including:

  •  Hard work. Farming is hard work, full stop. Physically and mentally, all hours, it is a relentless, never ending seasonal cycle that doesn’t stop. Farmers take very few holidays, but are always grateful for the ones they do.
  • Acceptance that there are some things you just can’t control.  In the country this often relates to weather and in particular rain. Livelihoods depend on it.  Too much rain or not enough rain can see a whole years work dashed away, along with significant income.  But whatever happens you just keep on going because there is no other way.
  • Risk management and risk taking. The cost of farming is extraordinary and although in a great year returns can be excellent, a bad year or two can place a family in terrible debt and a bad financial situation.  Farmers weigh this risk up every year, have to back themselves and often the only way to get out of debt is to go into more debt.
  • It is important to help others in the community, even when you are under pressure. The favour will be returned at some point in time, and other people’s livelihoods are as important as ours.
  • Almost everything can be re-used. Repair, re-purpose, make do or save for later use. Not a lot is thrown out and ingenuity in reuse saves money.

I have no doubt that living on a farm shaped my approach to running a business and the responsibilities involved.

How did your upbringing impact on your working habits?

Who is controlling your career?


One of the biggest differences I see between people with successful careers, and those who are unhappy, is what I call the control factor.

You might say your employer doesn’t give you opportunity to progress or you feel trapped in your job because you have financial commitments to meet. Or perhaps it’s a flexible position where the hours suit juggling kids and work that seems too risky to give up.

The fact is until you understand that YOU are in control of your career, not external influences, it will be much harder to progress.

How do you take back control? 

  • Discuss your careers aspirations with your employer. Even in small companies there can be opportunity to take on more responsibility.  Make sure you are on the radar for promotions or career advancement.
  • Seek out someone who has the type of role you want and find out what skills you need to develop, and then work out how to do it.
  • Undertake studies to upskill yourself – a short course or online studies may be a flexible option to consider.
  • Talk about what you want to do with family and friends. Develop a personal cheer squad of people around you who will support you in the changes you want to make.
  • Set goals around what you want to achieve. It might seem pie in the sky but I guarantee if you paint the dream and set the goals you are much more likely to succeed.

Your career is in your own hands! The degree of control that you want to exercise of it is up to you.

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