Resilience in Strata

In 2018, I did a presentation on ‘Resilience and High-Level Dispute Resolution’ at the SCA National conference and bared my soul on how I deal with things generally. Apart from the parts on dispute resolution, I babbled on about three types of resilience in business:

1. The resilience of our businesses;

2. The resilience of our staff;

3. The resilience of ourselves.

In the current climate, I think it is worthwhile to review some of the things I said and add one more type of resilience – our client base (the owners).

By the time this article appears in Inside Strata magazine, Australia will be a different place. Our working landscape will be different, our service offering will have changed and in some respects, our lives will be affected for a long time to come (if you believe the commentators), including the new sport of toilet paper MMA!

A lot of us will be working from home, some part-time while others will be doing different roles either inside or outside of the strata industry. And some will not have a role at all and will be doing what they can to get through. That is the landscape we are facing now and into the future.

Now while this all sounds so doom and gloom, anyone that knows me knows that I try my best to be as positive as I can, no matter what happens in my life. We all have our stories and mine is no different to many others. I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney (the Wild West) in a weatherboard house that leaked when it rained, with an alcoholic and violent father who suffered from what we now know as PTSD, a mum who “stood by her man” and a little sister who I to this day adore. We never had money and lived week to week.

Now that is not the purpose of the story. It’s only purpose is to show that we all come from somewhere. So, how did I get here? RESILIENCE (and being a tight wad with Scottish and Irish heritage how could I go wrong?).

In these uncertain times, we need to look at my listed items and see how we are going and what we need to do to keep going.

1. Resilience in our business. Our businesses all have risks.

Everything you do as a business owner, manager, supervisor, etc. has a risk attached to it. The question for business is how far do you take that risk, do you accept that risk and how do you minimise that risk?

At this time, we should be reviewing every single system and procedure that we have in our office and finding out better ys to do things. One of the best things to come out of the current situation is the uptake on meetings being online.

The industry as a whole has always said nobody will do it, technology isn’t there, clients hate it, blah blah blah. So, we kept on going to cold driveways, reception areas, somebody’s apartment and occasionally in a proper office (woohoo). Then, low and behold, the world changed and everyone was online, able to actually fill out a voting form, attend a teleconference at a reasonable hour and make decisions in a few minutes (not hours of debate over $5 cheaper quotes).

Were we ready for it? In the main, NO (I know you are all saying of course we were ready, but really be honest with yourself; as an industry we weren’t). We scrambled around getting Zoom or Windows Team or whatever platform that was available and got it going (and asking my 15-year-old son to set it all up).

I learned that while it was a major hiccup to running the business, our office was resilient enough to get it organised, running and working properly in a few days. We were having meetings with teams, clients, cross clients, the Courts and industry groups. No animals were harmed, nobody got injured, risk in the business was reduced (as you are not alone at night at a meeting, being yelled at by an owner, etc.), staff are happier and the bodies corporate/owners’ corporation business keeps moving forward (isn’t that the goal?).

Moving forward, we need to use these examples of looking at our businesses to work out what works and what doesn’t, what we can do better and then implement it (don’t be shy).

2. Resilience in staff. Staff are the lifeblood of any office; the owners may have the initial ideas, but it is the staff who make it happen. In Strata land, stress is a major issue and I am sure that in the past few months and future times, our emotions will be taken to a new level.

If you haven’t already, teach problem-solving, project management and do not compromise on governance and accountability. Look for tenacity and persistence in people; if you let them, they will show you.

I have been blown away by our teams over the past months. We have gone from “the sky is falling” to “banding together to help each other out”, and not just on work tasks. If nothing else that has come out of this mess is that people at heart are good, and nobody gets up of a morning and says “I’m going to do a crap job today”.

They get up, put their game face on and go forward. We need to encourage that and ask your team, what you can do for them and not what they are doing for you. Give yourself to your team and they will give back to you.

3. Resilience in yourself. This has been the most trying time of my career. I have cried, laughed and yelled (sometimes all at the same time) but throughout it all I kept asking myself what am I doing this for? How can I get my firm through this? What do I need to do more?

The answer in a lot of cases to the business questions was, “ask someone else”. While we all need to be good employees ourselves, we need to understand that 1 plus 1 = 3 in business.

You cannot do it all alone, you need the help and the input of others. So, ask your staff how you can improve things; seek professional advice on managements; read things to improve yourself and your team, and get moving.

On a personal level, do things for yourself and your family.

While for most of us family is the number-one priority, we need to be happy ourselves, so do something for yourself. We have a question in all of our team meetings – “what did you do for yourself today?”

4. Resilience in our clients. I say “the beach would be a great place without the sand” as it gets into every nook and cranny of your body and you bring 10 tonnes of it home no matter how hard you try not to.

Others say: “strata is great, except for the owners”. In reality, both are wrong. Sand makes the beach a beach and clients make Strata land – simple. Our clients need to be financially robust and keep their assets safe and well maintained. Our role is to ensure that they do that and while it is challenging, if we are persistent and resilient in our approach and teach our clients that without the same commitment to the cause, it all falls away.

New world order

As we hurtle towards the end of the year and the potential uncertainty that it has if we make ourselves resilient to get through anything (with help), make our staff resilient (train them, encourage them, ask them) and then teach our clients to be resilient then Strata land will be the place to be.

If not and it all “goes to pot” only me and Arnie will be left because I can assure you:

“I’ll be back”

The Terminator

Colin Grace

The Strata-nator

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