Building Effective Teams Through Successful Mentorship

headshot of Katrina Milianku
About the author : Katrina Milianku

General Manager Property

Published on : 6/29/20
  • Perhaps equally important to operating as an effective worker, is the responsibility of passing down knowledge and experience, mentoring others for growth and success. It’s an opportunity which all of us come across at some point during our careers.

    But what is mentorship? A mentor goes beyond just being a manager or a leader. To mentor someone requires investment in the individual and a willingness to help them realise their greatest potential so they too can become a leader and mentor. 

    Having worked in the property industry for close to 20 years and now overseeing multi-site teams, I’ve personally committed myself to mentoring daily; allocating time to impart knowledge, train, guide, and build self-esteem and competency in my team

    Mentoring can range from sporadic feedback or advice, to regular formal coaching sessions, and anything in between. A lot of it depends on the individual’s engagement and willingness to learn. It’s highly rewarding to build positive relationships and rapport with team members and mentees. Through mentorship, I have had the privilege of watching others achieve personal and professional success and grow into influential leaders themselves.

    REB Awards 2020I’m humbled to have this year been nominated as a Real Estate Business Award finalist in the category of Mentor of the Year. It’s inspired me to share a few thoughts on mentorship and the integral role it plays in professional life.

    Creating an Environment of Success

    To be positioned for growth, people must be placed in an environment which enables and encourages personal and professional development. As a mentor, you can help position your mentees in such an environment. Improving internal efficiencies and simplifying work processes is a great start, but it extends to clear communication with individuals and setting a standard of excellence which is achievable but also challenging.

    Now operating as Sodexo’s General Manager Property and person in bona fide control for the agency, my team is responsible for the delivery of property management and trust accounting services for the Western Australian portfolio of approximately 3,900 residential properties and 420 commercial properties spread across five remote towns in the Pilbara region. We are a team of licensees, property managers, property assistants and trust accounting staff. Most staff are situated remotely in towns where their respective property portfolios are located, but are constantly supported by the Perth-based team. 

    As a leader of a primarily remote team, I’ve had to adapt and find innovative ways to encourage, guide, manage and coordinate my team. A major challenge is managing five separate offices, all working to the same standard of service, consistently, for a single client. An essential foundation to enabling this has been establishing strong processes, delivered to teams with clear communication. 

    In all management functions I adopt an attitude to lead by example and embody the values of professionalism, integrity, accountability and service excellence. Through demonstrating the appropriate behaviours, I’ve found one can gain respect as a leader and influence cultural excellence. For this reason, the standards I expect from my team members are the same standards I hold myself accountable for. I’m the first to admit I make mistakes, we all make mistakes, but I accept and encourage my team to accept that this is just one of the ways we learn and develop.

    The Value of Change

    In 2019, there were many changes and accomplishments within our property team. A team restructure created a positive impact on the way the team interacted and was organised. The new structure enabled our managers to excel, empowering them to come together as leaders across our six locations to deliver on operational and contractual outcomes, while still maintaining a critical focus on compliance. This positive impact on the way our team was able to communicate and interact with each other, even in remote circumstances, catalysed inter-team mentorship.

    The restructure was an essential step in moving Sodexo’s property team towards a vision of delivering a consistent service, executed by a group of knowledgeable, confident, and professional property managers. Overall, there was a shift from being overly accommodating to clients’ whims, to meeting the client’s needs through adoption of industry best practice, application of knowledge of legislation, and compliance.

    Industry Collaboration

    Throughout my career, I have worked for multiple real estate agencies, both large and small. One thing I have observed is a fierce competitiveness and ego-driven approach in many professionals and businesses. I have seen people be insular, and unwilling to share knowledge, to the detriment of individuals, teams and businesses alike. This isn’t just limited to the property sector and this kind of behaviour does not empower people for success or create a platform for continuous improvement.

    Sometimes, a valuable mentor can be found outside of your organisation. Someone who can provide objective guidance and support. The establishment of such mentor-mentee relationships is only possible in an industry that is collaborative. I have been fortunate to have had several standout mentors during my career. People who I had previously worked with, and who I emulated in practice. Maintaining these relationships has been essential, helping me to navigate my career in the property industry and seek advice, guidance, and networking opportunities as needed. 

    At Sodexo, our property team collaborate, share their knowledge, discuss successes and failures, and have a team mentality. We aim to expand this ethos beyond the boundaries of our department. We’ve invested time into helping our peers in integrated service streams understand property management and the role they play in the success of property services. 

    Sodexo’s position as one of the largest property management businesses in Australia, empowers myself and my team with the influence to lead by example across the sector and demonstrate how positive and nurturing mentoring will enable the future success and innovation in the industry we collectively operate within.

    Mentorship is a crucial component of an individual’s professional development, training and understanding of best practice. It’s something everyone should experience from both ends during their career. I’d encourage you to get in contact with myself, or a professional you trust, to discuss mentorship strategies and opportunities in your own role.