Dropping agents from your team can be one of the toughest things a leader has to do. But it could provide your team a boost.

Being a team leader often means making hard decisions, like knowing when to let go of a floundering team member, or what to do if there’s an issue between multiple members of a team.

At Inman Connect at the Marriott Marquis in New York City Thursday, a trio of the industry’s top team leaders dished on how they decide to let someone go — and what comes after a team-member purge during a session titled, “Managerial Secrets from Team Leaders.”

Nicole Lopez | Photo credit: Side

Nicole Lopez, the founder and team leader of True Houston, a Side network partner, recently had to drop her team from nine members to three, but she’s now back up to nine.

“We recently went through a purge on our team,” Lopez said. “Is was tough because when you have to let people go or they make the decision to leave, it’s never easy.”

Lopez runs her office out of her home, so, as a team leader, she always wants to retain her talent because she tries to run her team like a family. When agents join the team, they will be close to her and her family. But ultimately, she ran into an issue of complacency, which was unacceptable and led to the purge.

“That was something that was just not going to be acceptable for us anymore, in order for us to grow and double our numbers every year, we have to weed out weak and build upon the new,” Lopez said.

Sometimes refreshing your team can also lead to a boost, according to Lopez.

“I have absolutely found that, as we let people go, and we bring in new people in and fresh blood in, and new ideas, and excitement and fervor for what it is that we do, everybody else, they go right up to their A-game,” Lopez said.

Brandon Brittingham | Photo credit: Long & Foster

Brandon Brittingham, the team leader at The Maryland & Delaware Group of Long & Foster Real Estate, has specific gross commission income thresholds that agents need to hit, to stay on his 22-person team. He sets a minimum standard, before the agents even join the team.

He purposefully avoids agents that have previously been with other brokerages because he has found it difficult to break bad habits in some agents. By bringing in new agents and setting a minimum threshold — Brittingham doesn’t like the word, “goals” — he’s able to create a standard.

“We train our people on commitments,” Brittingham said. “Commitments are a lot different [than] goals.”

Jeremy Stein, a senior global real estate advisor and agent at Sotheby’s International Realty, runs a seven-person team with his wife. They don’t enforce a minimum standard and instead, the decisions come organically.

Jeremy Stein | Photo credit: Sotheby’s International Realty

Stein said that while he and his wife set goals for agents, if one of them doesn’t hit the right numbers but they can tell the agent is working hard, they’ll discuss with the agent what he or she can do to improve.

But at some point, if the business just isn’t a fit, they’ll decide if the agent is better off somewhere else.

“I guess because of the size of our team — and a bit to do with nature — it comes very organically,” Stein said. “My wife and I have discussions, not currently about anybody on our team luckily. But we have in the past had discussions about people where you see it coming.”

“It’s a combination of lack of drive, not being proactive and maybe not hitting goals,” Stein added. “But we’re not as goal-oriented.”

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