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The right moves... Year end is coming (seriously)

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Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airlines Group. Photo: Conor McCabe

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airlines Group. Photo: Conor McCabe

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airlines Group. Photo: Conor McCabe

Another eventful year in property lies ahead and don't the years seem to fly by so quickly? A sobering thought is that if you intend taking four weeks holidays and not working on weekends and public holidays, there are only 222 working days to Christmas. That isn't a lot of time to achieve all our resolutions and new goals. The point is that our time is very precious and property professionals must have strategic targets, or risk seeing another year fly by with success depending only on the strength of the market. The key to success is a well communicated plan and clear goals.

At this time of the year property professionals should be using the quieter period to finalise a plan for the year, for the entire organisation, on a departmental basis and on an individual basis. A word of warning however as I recommend basing your planning on the calendar year. Traditionally firms operated to a financial year ending on April 5, to match the then tax year. When the tax year changed to mirror the calendar year, many companies switched too but some firms, particularly those operating a partnership model, still have April 5 year end and others operate to a September 30 year end.

This is confusing-particularly to younger staff, who are measured by financial targets to a year end that conflicts with the natural year end. Typically maximum pressure is applied to do deals and collect debts for the year end and after any pressurised deadline passes the natural inclination is to take a breather. However you certainly don't want your staff unfocused in the key busy periods of April and October and the perfect time for resting and planning is the Christmas break and the quieter January.

There is a view in human resources, probably correctly, that individual performance targets should be separated from hard financial targets and hence I spent much of my career working to sales and debt collection targets to a year ending in April and personal development targets for a year ending in September-neither of which coincided with the natural year end when one instinctively reviews the past year and sets targets for the new one.

As the economy and property market continue improving, estate agents, surveyors, architects and engineers should have a better year but relying solely on market conditions isn't exactly strategic thinking. Another option is to demand staff to produce more routine work but as we have seen, there is limited time available and most staff have been working flat out for years, just to survive.

The key to success is a plan with clear goals for the company and individuals. Naturally these will include financial targets but in order to gain market share, the plan should have named targets from whom you can win business and clear responsibility for winning those clients. Hopefully you took my advice to start spending time again with developers and that should be paying off now but what are the other sectors which will produce the most business this year? Receivers? NAMA? Pharma? Digital media? Now identify the very best targets and find a way to meet them-don't send them e-mails or brochures. The chances are they are well aware of your company-they just don't know that you are interested in them.

Now that everyone has targets, review progress monthly and make sure everyone knows how you're doing. As soon as you get your first win, make sure it is visibly celebrated and be lavish in your praise of whoever won the client. This confidence boost sends them off doubly determined to win the next client, which becomes easier. Everyone else sees that winning business is recognised and rewarded and redoubles their own efforts.

Lastly, keep your Plans simple-you'll have more success with three goals than with ten.

I was delighted to contribute again last week at the Pendulum Summit in the Convention Centre Dublin. The star of the show for me was the New York Times bestselling author Keith Ferrazi who was passionate on how much we can achieve through developing relationships with the right people.

The Convention Centre is booming and is bringing huge numbers of visitors to Ireland. Jacqueline Trehy, Senior Marketing Executive told me that they have already hosted over 1,000 events, with some individual events having over 5,000 delegates.

Indo Business