Much has been made about the burnout that’s affecting employees. And echoes of the phrase “return to normalcy” are starting to fall flat. We all know the new normal will look different, and there will need to be an adjustment period, and perhaps a forging of a new normal. It’s now a proven concept that many companies can function perfectly well with the majority of its workforce working remotely, and wearing comfortable clothing to boot. So insisting on a return to the way things were are likely to backfire on many fronts.
But what does this mean for leadership? It’s likely you’re feeling just as much burnout and anxiety as your employees are about returning to the world. Managing this transition, and knowing how to adjust your expectations for this new adjustment period is also a source of stress. It’s been brought home to many of your employees that work life balance is important, and going forward, maintaining that balance probably going to be taken more seriously.
For leadership, it might be more important than ever that you also take stock, reevaluate your priorities, and adjust how this reentry period is going to be a healthy one for you as well. As you give space for your staff to regroup and get comfortable with the idea of the occasional in-person meeting, perhaps, remember to give permission to yourself to regroup, reassess and recharge. What wasn’t working for you before? What expectations did you put on yourself that were unsustainable? What do you want the path forward to look like?
In some ways, real estate hasn’t been affected in the same way as other businesses have. Large brokerage teams are used to operating somewhat independently, and it was normal for check-ins to occur remotely, or for schedules to adjust for sudden emergencies. But still, Kris Lindahl, CEO of Kris Lindahl Real Estate, has given the matter a lot of thought. He begins, “For me, it’s all about refocusing on the why. Why am I doing this? Behind real estate, what’s motivating me to still keep pushing myself? For me, it’s still all about being able to provide a great life for my daughter.”
It might sound easy for a CEO to say that, but Lindahl is no stranger to burning the midnight oil. Long he launched his own independent brokerage in 2018, he was a realtor himself, and got his start during the housing crisis. He found that he was crazy good at it, and was selling hundreds of houses each year. “I was a little bit of a manic early on, and it was all about how much more I could push myself to do. But I had to constantly remind myself to stay present, slow down and enjoy the ride,” he states.
It’s made him a better listener and a better leader. No longer driving himself to do all and be all, his team has swelled to hundreds of agents across multiple states, and surpassed $1 billion in sales just this past year. Slowing down and allowing himself some time to recharge, and even step away for a while, has given his company’s leadership a chance to find their footing, and stretch their wings a little bit. It’s made them more engaged, and ultimately more productive. And all of this happened a year before the pandemic hit.
Many employers, obviously, will want to see more of their employees once it’s safe to do so. But it might be time to ask yourself how much of that desire is to reestablish great relationships, and how much of that desire is to simply reassert control. If it’s the latter, this might be a great time to ask yourself the questions your staff is asking themselves. What do you really want moving forward? Is it an anxiety-filled day where you’re constantly having to look over everyone else’s shoulder? They don’t want that, and you probably don’t want it either. Do you want to continue the real check-ins that happened during the pandemic, where people actually cared about how other people were doing, and relationships were based on more than title and productivity? Your employees do, and if you shut down and try to reestablish some sort of wall between yourself and them, then that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Slow down, take some time, and breathe. If your company is still doing well, then your staff has operated very well with a huge amount of independence. Looking ahead, you might get to enjoy more of the ride. And if this feels uncomfortable, keep in mind your why. Behind the paycheck and the title, there should be some reason you’re doing this, and it could help get you through what will no doubt be another turbulent time.