When you first hire an agent, like the beginning of other relationships, the honeymoon period is great. People are still getting to know one another, and each is finding out the other’s strengths and weaknesses. However, when that rosy period ends, is the relationship worth continuing? What happens when you have a struggling team member, and how do you know when it’s time to move on?
First, let’s define what a struggling agent actually looks like. From the team leader’s perspective, struggling typically means one who’s not performing. However, it can be anything from how agents are representing your brand and the experiences they are delivering to the consumer, to the actual production of revenue for your team or business.
For many team leads, especially those without performance tracking systems in place, it’s the bitter feeling from resources going out and not very much coming back in return. In essence, a low return on the time and dollar investment into the relationship.
Interestingly enough, the perspective of the agent is similar. Agents decide to join a team for a variety of reasons: leads, training, brand presence, marketing and start-up support. They are committing time and energy into the team and expect to have a good return on their investment as opposed to working on their own. Both parties must contribute value to the team for everyone to thrive.
Leading a team is an act of service. If you approach situations like having a struggling agent on your team from the perspective of serving others so they grow, it will allow you to capture opportunities for your personal and professional growth.
Although you do need to remove non-performing or harmful agents from your team and do it decisively and quickly, it should be an action of last resort. The only things that justify immediate termination are unethical or illegal behavior because problems like those will happen again. You can’t train it out of them. Rip off the Band-Aid, and move on.
4 steps to take when reviewing an ‘offboarding situation’
1. Expectations are vital to a healthy team culture.
The very first thing to look at when you have the thought “I’m not sure Jane is a good fit for the team any more” is to review the expectations set with the agent at the beginning of the relationship.
Clear, written expectations of how you want your team member to behave, perform and contribute to the team is a critical step to avoiding a painful exit situation. This gives you the ability to reference these expectations while you are holding your team accountable.
If your agent is struggling and you have not set expectations, that is your go-to action step. Record and systematize this process as you will want to use it every time you on-board a new agent.
2. Accountability and communication are critical components for ensuring that your team meets your expectations.
No, they can’t read minds. No, they won’t intuitively know what to do. It takes a bit of time and effort to get your team trained up and performing according to your expectations.
Constant reinforcement of good behavior and holding your team accountable for undesirable results is vital. Team meetings, quarterly review sessions, one-on-one reviews all work well to accomplish this. Consistency is important here, you can’t just do it once, or it loses all impact.
3. Accessibility to mentorship, tools and training is crucial.
My old broker used to say, “They don’t know what they don’t know.” People can’t develop new skills and gain motivation in a bubble.
If an agent is not performing, and we have gone through an accountability session to review expectations, it’s important to identify the problem areas so that you can help bridge the knowledge gap through training. Train your agents or plug your team into a training and support system or team attrition will have to be built into your business model.
4. The very last element is performance.
Using key performance indicators like sales volume, conversion metrics, average commissions, attendance at team meetings, attitude, consumer reviews, testimonials and referrals are just a few of the items you can measure to gauge a team members’ performance. What you can measure, you can improve.
If you have set the proper expectations, held your team accountable, made sure they had access to excellent training and mentorship, measured their performance so they can improve, and they are still struggling, it’s time to move on. Help them spread their wings and find an opportunity that is better suited to their desired level of commitment and the culture they want to work in.
Every agent that has the heart and desire to succeed in this business can do so in the right environment. If you work on your team culture and setting the right expectations, not only will you enjoy managing your team more, but they will also love working for you.
Dustin Pritchard is the founding partner and sales director at PC 275 Realty. He is a Serial Entrepreneur that has spent more than 20 years building and managing high-performance sales teams and companies.