Leanne Pilkington: Time for a fresh perspective

Leaders looking to future-proof their businesses for tomorrow need to look far wider than simply taking advice from experienced agents. As Laing+Simmons chief executive officer Leanne Pilkington explains, there's a lot that can be learnt from the views of younger team members.

In recent times, we’ve reconsidered and restructured how we approach the training, development and support of the people in the Laing+Simmons network.

Basically, we’ve invested in giving every person in the network the one-on-one treatment.

Our heads of training and development and people and culture sit down with every individual to understand their needs and goals to create tailored plans.

With this comes unique insights into the ideas, goals, objectives and even concerns of the young people in real estate.

Obviously, the views of experienced people in the industry carry a great deal of value, particularly in this new market, but taking the time to listen to young people is perhaps the most effective future-proofing exercise a business can engage in.

COVID-19 changed everything and there are doubtless more changes to come. Work-life balance was a major one. 

“Enjoying my free time makes me enjoy work more too.”

Personally, I think the term ‘work-life integration’ better captures the new norm, with the lines between work and life no longer as clear.

It’s now a front-of-mind consideration for people in their early 20s and even late teens. 

Senior industry people may roll their eyes but this shouldn’t be construed as laziness. Instead, it should be interpreted as an opportunity to build culture. 

You can provide all the tools and training in the world, but it will never surpass the desire to work in a great environment. This is what our young people respond to most. 

“A positive vibe in the office and among the team makes all the difference.”

Buy-in is the measure of cultural success and done well, the flexibilities young people seek do not detract from their productivity and desire to grow.

It’s not enough to say, ‘yes we’ll train you’. They want to know exactly what we are going to do to help them shape their career. 

“I’m excited about where this job could take me but I’ll need genuine help to get there. I’ve read enough textbooks in my life.”

By developing and implementing career plans with their leaders, then evaluating their success, young people know they’re being invested in. So they’re more invested themselves.   

Now more than ever, our young team members are discerning and want clarity on what support is on offer and how it will benefit them and their career.

Young people want career support but they also demand support when it comes to technology

“I love checking out properties but I only ever do it on my phone at night.”

Real estate tech is constantly innovating and evolving and young people in real estate know this.

Rather than seeking out businesses that simply offer the latest specific tech advantage, they are looking for tech savvy workplaces which understand that the evolution is constant, and which will invest in staying ahead of the curve.

Young people value investments in technology but they also have a sense of their own worth. Money.

The cost of living is high and no-one knows the housing affordability challenge better than real estate professionals. 

“It’s important to know that if I work hard, I’ll move up.”

Expectations around salary are increasing, and this goes for everyone, not just people new to the industry.

Young team members may be comfortable to start on the award for an entry level role but they want to understand the opportunities to progress.

It’s inspiring to listen to driven young people with long-term ambitions to develop their skills, knowledge and talents and carve out successful careers. 

And of course, while it’s important to listen, it’s just as important to carefully consider what we’re being told.

Our people are our best resource. They need to be supported and they deserve to be heard.

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Leanne Pilkington

Leanne Pilkington is Chief Executive Officer and Director of Laing+Simmons.