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Creating Career Agility: Adapting Your Self-Storage Management Skills to an Ever-Changing Industry

Adapting Your Self-Storage Management Skills to an Ever-Changing Industry
The self-storage industry is constantly changing as the business world evolves. It can be tough for facility managers to adjust to shifting customer and employer expectations. But if you learn to be agile in the workplace, your career will greatly benefit—wherever it takes you. Find out what this means and some ways to become more open and flexible.

If you’ve been reading the news over the past year, you’ve likely learned about “The Great Resignation,” in which many people are leaving their jobs, and many businesses are suffering staff shortages. In such a competitive market, job-seekers have found opportunities to learn new skills and advance their careers.

A lot has also changed in self-storage operation over the last couple of years. Companies and their teams have had to adapt, which isn’t always easy. Of all the traits and skills you need to succeed in an evolving industry, agility and the ability to embrace change are among the most critical to possess. These will make you a strong professional and competitive job candidate.

What It Means to Be Agile

Being agile means you’re open and willing to learn new things, take on new challenges, and make adjustments. It equips you to adjust to changing factors, conditions or environments. It’s highly valued in almost all workplaces, as every industry and business can and does experience disruption.

With technology impacting nearly every industry, the ability to pivot is more critical than ever. Many positions in self-storage operation look different today than they did 10 years ago, and in 10 more years, they’ll look different again. Whether you’re an assistant store manager or a CEO, the ability to adapt to change is the key to growth and success.

Consider how well you respond to new ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends and more. Possessing soft skills like interpersonal communication, creative thinking and problem-solving are necessary to be agile. When working on new projects, developing strategies and meeting goals, showing that you’re motivated to try new things and learn new skills demonstrates your ability to be flexible.

Foundational Values

Many self-storage employers have guiding values for their business and look for these same standards in their employees. They view them as essential to staff and company success. Here are five common principles that can help you be more adaptable and, therefore, a more desirable team member:

  • Integrity: You live your values, even when no one is looking. When you make mistakes, you acknowledge them. You never try to deceive.
  • Excellence: You embrace challenges, pay attention to details and provide the best possible customer experience. You never stop getting better.
  • Passion: You care about your customers and fellow employees. You’re energized to make your facility or office a great place to work.
  • Teamwork: You trust in your teammates, and rely on and empower each other. No one member is as smart as the collective. No one is indispensable, and no one is better than anyone else.
  • Innovation: You work toward growth and improvement. You ask “why,” are forward-thinking and take risks when appropriate. You expect to do better tomorrow than you did today.

Having values on which you can rely can help create a solid foundation for your work, which is key to being adaptable. If you or your company don’t have clearly stated ideals, I recommend you take the time to write some out.

Improving Your Agility

Identifying your personal values and developing new skills will prepare you for future roles within the self-storage industry. Here are five ways to improve your agility:

1. Stay current. To be ready for business changes, stay current and be aware of company and industry policies, procedures and processes. Read self-storage news, follow industry leaders on LinkedIn and network with other professionals in person or online. Ask peers and experts big-picture questions about their perspective on the future of self-storage.

2. Be willing to grow. Be eager to learn and try new things, which can influence your ability to take on new challenges, find opportunities and contribute to new projects. Your motivation to continually improve your skills can also demonstrate your commitment to professional growth. Stay curious and try to learn from everyone you meet.

3. Set stretch goals. For instance, if you believe you might be weak in responsiveness or tend to procrastinate when expected to complete challenging tasks, set a goal to be proactive and complete your projects earlier than expected. Setting objectives to work on different skills will help you grow professionally and improve your ability to roll with workplace changes.

4. Learn to accept change. Recognize when you need to adjust at work. If you can accept change, you can adapt to any circumstances that may come your way. Prepare for change, and don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. Ask questions, find joy in new experiences and strive to understand that change is a constant in life.

5. Step out of your comfort zone. Request opportunities to work on new tasks and offer to take on additional responsibilities. Ask team members, supervisors and collaborators for feedback on how you can be more agile. It may require a variety of combined skillsets, but becoming more well-rounded sets you up for future success.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus once wrote, “Change is the only constant in life.” It was true back in the 5th century, and it’s true now. You never know when the next opportunity may come your way. Actively work to become more agile to prepare yourself for self-storage career opportunities when they arise.

Tyler Jacobsen is senior director of talent acquisition at Extra Space Storage Inc., a self-storage real estate investment trust and management firm. He joined the company in 2014 with more than 10 years of human-resources and talent-acquisition experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Utah State University. For more information, email [email protected].

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