Building and retaining a successful real estate team: Identify strengths, procedures and your ‘big why’

Don't make it all about the money

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Editor’s note: This is the last of a three-part series. See Part 1 and Part 2.

You’ve decided to start a real estate team, determined your compensation models and hired a really terrific person. The next issue you will face will be how to integrate that person into your new or existing team and how to retain him.

When agents start a team, most become frustrated when the team does not perform well right from the beginning. A critical point to keep in mind is that building a high-performance team requires time, patience and the team leader’s attention.

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman created an excellent model that describes the four steps required in creating and maintaining a successful team. The four steps are, “forming, storming, norming and performing.”

Whether you are starting your team from scratch or adding new members to an existing team, a critical point to keep in mind is that you must go through the process below every single time the team changes.

1. Forming
When you add a new team member, everyone is excited and hopeful about the future. They may also be apprehensive, especially if the person is joining an existing team.

The forming stage is about realigning tasks and job descriptions to fit the strengths and the weaknesses of your current team members. This is the reason that it is so important to use a behavioral assessment such as the DISC, as well as Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder. Each of these tools allows everyone on the team to see what each team member does well and what needs to be handled by other team members. It also helps the team leader to identify the skills needed for the next hire.

An important way to make the team more cohesive is to give them a way to separate themselves from people outside the team. For example, you may have team t-shirts, polo shirts or caps your team members wear when your team attends an event together or does community volunteer work. All Web and print marketing, including nametags and cards, should include the team name as well. Each of these steps helps to cement the team throughout the forming stage.

... Sharing a common purpose minimizes conflicts since each team member is working towards a goal that is beyond just earning money."

2. Storming
Storming is the point where most teams fail. If you have not adequately identified your “big why” as well as that of each team member, your team may lack the overriding goal or purpose needed for it to succeed. Instead of building trust, distrust and conflict result.

Moreover, if you lack job descriptions, team processes and procedures, and clear-cut roles based upon each team members’ strengths, it is easy for your team to fall apart. If you feel unable to address these issues when you first launch your team, you would be well advised to hire someone who can create these for you as your first or next hire.

Even more important, sharing a common purpose minimizes conflicts since each team member is working towards a goal that is beyond just earning money.

3. Norming
Norming occurs when the team begins to work together as an effective unit. They understand each member’s role and begin implementing the activities that are required for the team to succeed.