People are the hardest part.
When I started my first foray into management, years ago, this was of the first things my mentor said to me. Within the first two weeks as a manager, I had to console a sobbing older employee, who had worked for the company for over twenty years. She had realized that she did not have the skills to do the job and openly asked “I don’t know why I am here?”. The facts were…The role had changed and she hadn’t changed with it. She didn’t “use the internet” or really know anything about computers. And in a marketing position, those skills aren’t optional. It was difficult, emotional, and heart-breaking to watch a person realize that they had not remained relevant in their chosen profession. And more difficult still, to be the one that made that truth obvious.
So much of what we can do today is driven by technology. It’s such an incredibly powerful force in our lives. But to me, it’s kind of like a bullet train… great if you’re on it. But it’s scary, freighting, even deadly, if you’re standing in front of it. And that’s where the people part comes in.
A few years ago, I was given a simple task. I had to merge some data tables together from a few lists. I asked two different people to do it, and I did it as well, to illustrate a point. We all used MS Excel®. I took 10 minutes. One person took an hour. The other person took five hours. I’m sure a true expert could have done it in less than two minutes. It had nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with the people using it. One person did the same task in 3% of the time it took an “average” user.
Technology without the right people to leverage it is useless. There is so much that software, the internet, our phones, our systems can do for us… and yet, the vast, vast majority can’t use it effectively. Most functionality goes untapped, by all but the most expert users. Things that are supposed to make it easier aren’t. And even expert users, in programs like Excel, tap a fraction of the functionality that is there.
People simply haven’t kept up. Not even close. The rate of change is so fast. The vast majority of those that technology is supposed to serve are left behind. Most people are just struggling to dodge the bullet train that’s heading their way, fast.
In my experience, the real estate industry might just be the poster child for this phenomenon. Technology is light-years ahead of what typical real estate practitioners can deliver. The bulk of traditional agents don’t really understand the most fundamental tools that could make them more effective. They aren’t alone; every industry is grappling with this change… And like any other industry, some people will get left behind. Consumers are demanding more and those that can’t deliver will suffer. In our age, more so than ever before, change is the only constant. We can be in front of the train or on it. Either way, it is coming.