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Commercial Real Estate

How to Nurture a Positive Company Culture in Commercial Real Estate

Accessible, open, and authentic leaders with strong listening and communication skills is key, writes Danny Lovell, CEO of The Rainier Cos.
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In the ever-changing commercial real estate landscape, success is not just about financial gains but also about cultivating a positive and thriving company culture. The past 18 months have been particularly challenging for the industry, with interest rates posing obstacles for investors.

In such challenging times, a strong culture can uplift and engage your team, steering them towards a brighter future instead of dwelling on the present difficulties. This underscores the practical importance of company culture in navigating industry challenges.

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Danny Lovell

At Rainier, our team has nearly doubled in size over the past five years. Although it has been a journey, we’ve strived to preserve our culture while embracing new personalities. Many companies talk about “creating” a good culture, but in my experience, it’s constantly evolving. I hope it continues evolving and improving as more team members contribute.

The real challenge lies in maintaining it, which means living it every day and ensuring it remains a constant presence through the ups and downs of new and changing personalities. We focus on a few key aspects to maintain and nurture our culture.

Employee Engagement

A positive company culture creates an environment where employees feel engaged and motivated. When individuals align with the company’s values and mission, they are more likely to invest their time and energy into their work. In my early career, work was not just a “job” but part of my identity as I sought to learn from experienced colleagues. I believed in the company’s leadership, and our values were evident in our interactions with shareholders, investors, and management teams. While we maintain high expectations, we also prioritize team camaraderie and enjoyment, both in and out of the office.

Talent Attraction and Retention

A strong company culture is a magnet for skilled professionals seeking a job and a workplace where they can thrive and grow. It helps improve employee engagement and creates a sense of belonging and satisfaction. While every company claims to value its employees, not all demonstrate it. Those who feel a sense of belonging will look forward to coming to work and are likelier to stay with the company, reducing turnover costs and creating stability within the organization.

Innovation and Adaptability

When companies create a safe environment to make suggestions and embrace fresh ideas without the apprehension of criticism, it becomes a breeding ground for innovation. In this atmosphere, employees feel empowered to express their thoughts, which inspires loyalty, confidence, and creativity. During the hiring process at Rainier, I’ve told many people, “This is the way we do it; it may not be the best way; it’s just the way that’s worked for us. If you have a smarter way or you’ve seen something that has worked elsewhere and want to try it, we’re always striving to improve.”

Brand Image and Reputation

Company culture is not just an internal matter; it also influences how your organization is perceived externally. A positive culture contributes to a strong brand image, attracting customers, clients, and partners who want to be associated with a company that values its people and operates ethically. Your brand is everything, especially in an efficient commercial real estate market. Lots of people do what you do and do it well. The reason people choose to do business with you has to do with your image and reputation, as well as your skills. When an employee or vendor speaks positively or negatively about your culture, it significantly impacts others looking to do business with you.

Leadership and Communication

A good culture calls for accessible, open, and authentic leaders with strong listening and communication skills. It’s a two-way street between employees and management, and when leadership encourages and listens to feedback, it builds trust and contributes to solid working relationships.

Even if you don’t always agree with the suggestions, ensuring that your employees and teammates believe you hear them is very important. I make a concerted effort to consider different angles and hear various opinions before making a final decision. This approach is not only because I’m rarely the smartest person in the room but also because I believe collaboration and inclusion enhance engagement and contribute to a learning and teaching experience for all.

A positive company culture is desirable in the commercial real estate industry and imperative for sustained success. As our industry continues to evolve, companies that prioritize and invest in their culture will be better positioned to thrive in the competitive landscape of commercial real estate.

Danny Lovell is president and CEO of The Rainier Cos.

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Danny Lovell

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