EPMEPM: Productivity

Spark Joy: Natalie Hastings

Time for a tidy-up? Natalie Hastings demonstrates how Marie Kondo’s KonMari method could help your property management department.

Summer holidays – so far as they exist for property managers – are good for two things: enjoying long days on the beach, and air-conditioned nights bingeing Netflix.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have indulged in an episode (real talk: every episode) of legendary minimalist Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up on Netflix. In it, the genial host puts her signature ‘KonMari’ method into practice – improving lives by decluttering houses, helping participants decide whether to keep or discard items based on a simple metric:

‘Does it spark joy?’

Unfortunately, the daily clutter of real estate often gets in the way of our ideal property management department. I think I have the answer: all you have to do is KonMari your department. Here’s how.

Consider your department by category

Marie suggests you begin your KonMari process by gathering all the items of a particular category together. As Marie is decluttering physical items and we’re decluttering property management departments, our approach needs to be different.

After all, you can’t round up every property manager and hold them hostage next to the tins of Nescafe Blend 43 while you decide who sparks the most joy.

Instead, tackle decluttering different aspects of your department by category as concepts. I suggest your database, your systems and process manuals, meetings and team events, your filing cabinets, your staff, your office furniture and decorations.

Respect your business assets

Look at each of your categories and consider their relative happiness. Are those 148 closed files really happy leaning against the empty water filter?

What about the kitchen: is the tap, happy to drip onto old coffee mugs?

How about Darren at the front desk – is he happy without a lunch break for the last four months?

It sounds ‘out there’ to consider the happiness of inanimate objects in our care – but they’re our responsibility, just like our human, feeling colleagues.

Nostalgia is your department’s enemy

Are you refusing to shred files or ancient open-for-inspection sheets? Perhaps you are emotionally tied to your first systems and processes manual and have been resisting updating the way your department functions.

Nostalgia does have a place: that place is on the mantelpiece with the picture of your Nan’s debutante ball. Not in your property management department.

Let the purge begin!

We recommend that before you begin the process of shedding what no longer serves your property management department, you identify whether you’ll be doing this solo as a business owner or in collaboration with your team.

Whilst potentially costlier in time, making decisions about what should stay in your property management department and what should go can really bring colleagues together.

All humour aside, any matter which concerns HR and moving on staff who do not fit your business must be done sensitively and with full regard to laws and employment contracts.

Feel that fresh energy and purpose

So you’ve committed to redesigning your systems and processes. You’ve tidied up your CRM and put steps in place for better accounting. Your circa-1995 furniture is out the door. And those dust-gathering OFI sheets have finally left the building.

Phew! You’ve Kondo-ed your way to a state of property management enlightenment where the purpose of your organisation and the values your team bring to it can really shine. That’s what I call the life-changing magic of tidying up!

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Natalie Hastings

Natalie Hastings is the Managing Director of Hastings + Co. For more information, visit hastingsandco.com.au.