Lessons in Workplace Psychology: 4 Ways to Become a Better Entrepreneur

Industrial-organizational psychology (or IO psychology) is the study of the behaviour of employees with a focus on improving performance, productivity and overall work environment. Working in real estate can be fast-paced, competitive and draining. Do you have what it takes to reach your goals, support your team and achieve balance without burning out?

On Episode 16 of REAL TIME, we speak with Associate Professor of Organization Studies at York University, Dr. Winny Shen who shares practical advice for REALTORS®—and all professionals—to gain a mental edge, including conquering these common entrepreneurial hurdles:

Standing out in a competitive field

Although there are many key traits to success, when it comes to standing out from the crowd, successful entrepreneurs are often those “who can see the difference between the current status quo and how things you think should be, and really are motivated to close that gap.”

They’re often also:

  • Self-driven;
  • Tolerant to stress in changing environments;
  • Proactive; and
  • Focused on the long-term vs. short-term.

Understanding good vs. bad stress

Dr. Shen makes the distinction between two common sources of stress: challenge stressors and hindrance stressors.

“Challenge stressors tend to be stressors that, although cause us stress, also push us to grow and develop. Hindrance stressors are often more roadblocks. They don’t really help us grow,” she said.

Part of understanding the different types of stress is paying attention to when they’re being helpful or harmful and the power of detachment because “even the benefits of good stress can wane over time if we don’t take time to detach from the workplace. Even in very challenging, rewarding jobs, it’s really important to take that step back and recover.”

Practicing time management

If you know you’re not great at managing your time, you can get better. Dr. Shen suggests breaking it down into its key components: self-awareness of one’s use of time and good planning.

  1. Start by making a list of all the things you spend your day doing. “I think many of us might be surprised, perhaps even in my case horrified, at the amount of time we’re spending on things like social media, or things that perhaps feel urgent but actually aren’t very important.”
  2. Set goals and create a plan. “Are you thinking about how you can group tasks together so they can be accomplished more efficiently? I often take time at the beginning of my work week to make a list. Then I build in some slack time for unexpected things that might happen.”
  3. Learn how to say no. “If our agenda is actually too full, that there’s not a very realistic way to get everything done, to think about what things we should work on getting off our plates.”
  4. Enact on your plans and make space for flexibility. “There’s some evidence that we should engage in contingency planning. The best-laid plans often go awry so I think we need to anticipate possible interruptions in our work and plan for them.”

Growing in the aftermath of difficulties or perceived failures

Understanding the high risk, high reward life that is real estate, Dr. Shen stresses the importance of “psychological safety” in the face of challenges.

“One interesting thing is that in the face of difficulties or failures, we often feel negative emotions, but what seems to separate people who bounce back more quickly from the people who have more difficulty, is that the people who are more resilient also experienced positive emotions in addition to those negative emotions. I think it’s important, even in the face of failure, to acknowledge perhaps what did go well. I think we also need to move on from those failures when we can and part of doing that also, I might suggest, is that we should try to be self-compassionate.”

Catch this and all our REAL TIME podcast episodes at CREA.ca/podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kylee Sauve, Associate Director of Communications, manages a dynamic team of web, graphic and multimedia designers, as well as the coordination of various corporate initiatives, including CREA’s Annual Report and CREA.ca. Since starting her career with an internationally-recognized non-profit organization, Kylee has gained more than a decade of communications experience. When not in the office, she can be found working on her house or yard with her husband and dogs.


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