How do we create and sustain a culture that supports our vision, purpose and values? That’s the question Chris Chapple often asked his team when he was appointed CEO of 151 Property nearly three years ago.
Chris was determined to create a workplace where people wanted to come to work and fulfil their potential. “Rather than simply needing to come to work to get paid, I wanted our people to find working at 151 Property highly rewarding and fulfilling so that they wanted to be here and achieve together,” he explains.
Looking back on when he first joined the property company, Chris says one of his biggest challenges was transforming its culture.
“I identified that we had a team of highly passionate, capable and dedicated individuals, but the piece that was missing was the glue to hold them all together and having a culture they could identify with. Creating an environment where our people felt like they belonged, enabling them to leverage and create value more collaboratively, was vital,” he reflects.
Chris knew that if he wanted his team to not only be part of the cultural transformation but to drive it too, he would need to communicate openly and gain the team’s trust.
“In order to lead change effectively, you need people to trust you if they are going to buy in.” This wasn’t easy, given that he was not only new to the business but also the new CEO.
“In order to lead change effectively, you need people to trust you.”
“I needed them to trust that I was taking the business and its people to a more fulfilling, successful and rewarding place. For the business to truly achieve its potential and go to the next level, I knew that realising the collective potential of the team would need to become a strategic imperative. Evolving a business and developing its people often means change, and change can sometimes be uncomfortable, which is why the team trusting me was going to be crucial.”
Another defining objective Chris tackled after joining 151 Property was setting a clear vision for the business. “We wanted to be globally recognised as the trusted advisers in real estate transformation. It’s really exciting to see that vision already being realised,” he enthuses.
“I knew I had to set it early and I had to communicate it clearly to powerfully mobilise us. Authentic and transparent communication is critical to the success of leading and transforming any team.”
When Chris became CEO in 2016, the company had recently changed its name and was going through a period of rebranding. Chris believes building a brand is about much more than marketing.
“Having a culture of trust is essential to take your business to the next level.”
“You need to identify your purpose – what your brand stands for – and then enable that with the right culture and the right team. If you do that, everyone becomes brand ambassadors and proud to be associated with it,” he says.
After working in the property industry for more than 20 years, Chris says one of the things he enjoys most about his job is developing and mentoring talent.
“At 151 Property, we believe our people are the cornerstone of our success. Seeing my team grow and progress through their careers and achieve their goals is really special. I am fortunate to be in an influential position,” he smiles, adding that he’s very proud of his dedicated employees.
“Seeing my team progress through their careers and achieve their goals is really special.”
“Having an agile, engaged and highly competent team is fantastic. People now feel that they can put forward their ideas and know that they will be heard and valued.
“Ultimately everyone takes personal responsibility for making a difference – that level of ownership is a critical characteristic of the culture we’ve created together and the success we continue to achieve.”
Chris says he’s also proud of the fact he’s managed to transform the business in such a short time. “There’s often a view that cultural transformation takes a long time and you’ve got to take it slow and steady and not rush change,” he notes.
“If you build the right team, create the right environment, have shared trust, communicate openly, honestly and set a very clear vision, then you can definitely accelerate the transformation and integration process. There’s no doubt it takes lots of energy, focus, determination and people willing to take the journey. However, I believe our business is definitely a great example of successful business transformation and high achievement that has been enabled by putting people first.”
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