By: Beth Swanick
January 13, 2022
The commercial real estate industry, our society and the entire world is still living through what is considered the strangest time in anyone’s memory. Pressures on every aspect of our personal and professional lives have been overwhelming, and though society has adapted to necessary adjustments, the pressures continue and become even more weighty on our minds and relationships. It’s more challenging to perform at a high level given all that is happening around us and to us.
Much has been written about the pressures of the global shutdown, such as working from home without colleagues and office supplies. Perhaps across the kitchen table from a spouse having to do the same work from home routine? All while trying to keep children focused on a computer during online classroom studies? This all required agility and resilience.
One of the solutions that sprung up, particularly for working parents of school-aged children, was the development of “pods.” These were neighborhood families, or perhaps fellow school parents, who took turns supervising the school-at-home classes and each other’s kids. Other pods began to form in neighborhoods – some for garden produce, shopping assistance, cooking and baked goods, and even home or car repair.
These pods formed in CRE as well, although most people wouldn’t recognize them as such. While Transwestern has always advocated for the health and wellbeing of its employees, these efforts intensified as team members became more attuned to their co-workers’ wellbeing, responding if and when something was amiss.
Mentoring is usually thought of as a more senior, experienced person taking a junior person under their wing. But mentoring has evolved – team members are more aware of what others are going through and may support them by offering assistance or simply caring. The focus has shifted to the wellbeing of the entire person, not just their work performance and career path. This can create a resiliency in the affected person and help them push past whatever is impacting them.
Being a good listener is a common thread among new yet successful mentors. Just listening to someone vent about their roadblocks can be a huge help. Naturally, people are different, and need various levels of support. In some instances, a quick call to human resources for those folks who are struggling and seem to need more care than a friendly shoulder to lean on will set the wheels of the company’s benefit program in motion.
Like many successful initiatives, pods are grassroots movements, born out of need. In CRE, sometimes they are temporary, like when brokers recognize someone else has a unique talent/experience needed to sell a concept and close a deal. Other times, team members who are working together on an assigned project discover that the sum is greater than the parts and decide to tackle other projects together. Or maybe team members across geographies who are at similar stages of their careers want to share experiences and, yes, frustrations.
Community is the common denominator. It is what has helped us get through the pandemic so far and will carry us through to the other side. People caring for people. It sounds like a pie-in-the-sky goal, but it’s happening all the time, person to person, pod to pod, professional to professional, and mentor to mentee.
Beth Swanick is Employee Relations Business Manager at Transwestern. Based in Chicago, she oversees professional development, performance management and employee relations issues.
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