Novel Property Ventures Believes that Kindness Drives Achievement
Stereotypes and dramatic television shows tell us that high-powered firms in New York are invariably competitive, ruthless, and uncompromising. Our expectations drive our imaginations — we picture leaders as hard-driving, ambitious taskmasters, and employees as fiercely independent, canny achievers that push their companies forward via their individual successes. The culture in such a place, we think, must be in equal parts stressful and exciting, an environment where only a few could thrive.
Our imaginations couldn’t be further from the truth — at least when it comes to Novel Property Ventures.
Novel, a full-service property management firm that capitalizes on New York City’s high residential demand and limited housing supply by managing and developing a diverse portfolio of residential and mixed-use properties, has all the hallmarks of a high-achieving firm. It maintains an elite team that excels at identifying high-potential assets and, since its founding in 2011, has grown to be a force in the city’s real estate sector.
But unlike what one might expect from a firm of its caliber, Novel Property Ventures doesn’t put the pursuit of achievement above its team’s health and happiness. Instead, the company finds success by maintaining a culture of supportive teamwork and shared positivity.
“Everything is shared,” Novel co-founder and CEO Bennat Berger explains. “When we land a great deal, the whole office celebrates it as a team victory. When a plan falls through, the disappointment resonates across the entire team. Most importantly, when we do not succeed, no one points fingers or assigns blame.”
Berger says that in his experience, having a kind and supportive culture is better for the business and employees alike.
“Even when I was starting out as an entrepreneur, I knew that I wanted to build a workplace that offered a positive environment,” he says. “As a team, we are supportive and respectful of one another and always aim to accomplish what is best for the team. I believe in our approach because I’ve seen first hand that it works.”
Novel Property Ventures’ approach to work is a far cry from the hard-driving, competitive approach that has risen to the forefront in the tech company era. According to Berger, that difference is purposeful.
“Sure, you hear stories about companies like Amazon being runaway successes — but then when you hear about their workplace horror stories, you have to think, ‘that’s not who I want to be.’”
He makes a good point. Even above other tech companies, Amazon has gained notoriety for its hard-driving, revolving-door culture. In 2015, a New York Times exposé revealed a culture where overwork is common, backstabbing encouraged, and firings constant.
“You walk out of a conference room, and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” one former employee told reporters for the Times. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
Novel Property Ventures rejects the idea that fear and high turnover drives success.
“The average employee at Novel has been with the company for about five years,” Bennat Berger says. “We rarely lose key team members, and we often promote from within. There is tremendous continuity amongst our team that, I feel, leads to a respectful work environment that is free of unnecessary politics.”
Moreover, Berger believes that the supportive environment Novel Property Ventures cultivates leads to better problem-solving in the face of adversity. “We know that every problem we face is solvable because we have solved so many problems together in the past. This confidence in each other enables the team to be successful even during stressful situations,” he explains.
Berger’s philosophy is built atop a veritable mountain of management research. According to the results of a study published in a 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review, maintaining a positive workplace environment can improve employees’ working relationships, amplify creativity, and create a positive buffer that empowers employees to, as Berger noted, better overcome professional challenges.
Research has also indicated that the companies relying on stress and fear to drive performance may be exacting a heavy toll from their employees and, by extension, their bottom lines. The American Psychological Associates estimates that “$500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy because of workplace stress, and 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job.”
“You don’t need to run your employees into the ground to find success,” Bennat Berger insists. “Nor should you. At Novel Property Ventures, we know that there’s a better way — and we live it every day.
In an era where tech companies and high-profile startups seem to be continually undergoing scrutiny for their terrible cultures, it’s a relief to see companies like Novel set an excellent example for growing businesses everywhere.