For team leaders, constantly having to replace top talent can be draining, both emotionally and financially. So, make sure you’re following these four key points when striving to keep your team members productive and happy.

This July, Inman’s editorial theme is Teams — what it takes to build and join one, how to optimize your team for summer 2020, and even when to consider leaving one. And if you’re not already a subscriber to our Teams Beat email newsletter, sent every Thursday, sign up now.

As the leader of a real estate team, you are likely facing many challenges. One of the biggest challenges agent team leaders face is turnover. Turnover is high in our industry, and it’s likely even higher for teams than it is for brokerage firms.

My business partner and I have been running our team for more than 12 years. One truth I believe in is that having a great recruiting strategy for your team is essential. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it a requirement (perhaps this subject is an article to be written another day). And if you’re going to be recruiting team members, it stands to reason that you’d want to be able to retain the best ones.

In a previous article, I wrote that, in the age of big data, artificial intelligence, social networking and many other forms of technology, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that what sells is human connection and communication.

This doesn’t just go for consumers — it also applies to your people. There is real power in understanding the human behavior side of the business.

“Be invested in them as a person before all else. Words, team mottos and promises mean nothing if the actions aren’t there. The right people rarely question if they are in the right place if you have demonstrated that they are more than just a partner to you.” – Carissa Acker, a real estate agent for Real Estate By Design Group at Keller Williams

So, to retain your top talent, make sure you are practicing and considering the following key points.

1. Get to know your people

If you can find out what drives your team members to do what they do, you’ll be able to help them stay centered and focused on what is important to them. One thing I can assure you is that if they’re not happy outside of the office, they eventually won’t be happy inside of the office — no matter how much money they are making.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of using behavioral assessments such as the DiSC or the AVA as big decision-making checkpoints in the hiring process.

However, I do believe issuing a behavior analysis and validating it with a team member can have a profound impact on them. When done correctly, it allows for the subject to feel understood. And let’s face it, we all want to be understood. This can help forge a bond stronger than you can imagine.

2. Invest in their success

Investing in a team member’s success can look like so many different things. What comes to mind for me is coaching. This could be coaching from you, the team leader, in the form of weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one sessions to discuss their goals, where they would like some help and where you see they might need some help.

You could also consider hiring a coach or splitting the cost of one with them. Either way, its something that, as the leader, you need to be in tune with.

Invest in their education. Most top producers are also top students. And no, I don’t mean that they got good grades in college. I mean they’re willing to learn so they can get better. If you don’t provide education and help them learn, they could end up seeing you as a roadblock to their success rather than a vehicle for it.

At least once a month, my business partner and I welcome a guest speaker to lead a session we call “growth summit.” This week, our friend and fellow team leader is teaching his techniques and tricks for converting online leads (something he has specialized in for years).

Additionally, at least once or twice a year, we like to bring in a speaker from outside of the industry, specifically to talk about leadership and personal development. Ronnie Doss, who is known for building teams and personal leadership, and Michael Bernoff, the master of human communication and strategic influence, were two of our most recent speakers.

Another way of investing in your team members? Spending time with them, which I mentioned in my first point about getting to know your people. Once a quarter, strive to put together a team-bonding activity like socially distanced axe throwing, Top Golf or even a virtual game. This will allow you spend time with your people and focus on anything but work.

“Care about their success more than your own. Know their goals inside and outside of work, and help them reach them every day. Meet with them weekly to discuss goals, activities, results and never cancel that meeting (which goes back to caring about them more than yourself).” – Craig Reger, Realtor and owner of Reger Coaching and Consulting

3. Acknowledge them for their achievements

One of the most powerful things we can do as leaders is acknowledging our people. One of my mentors asked me if I had a consistent agent public acknowledgment system and process. And you know what? I didn’t, but that changed.

I simply decided to start looking for reasons to publicly acknowledge our agents via social media. Sometimes, I share stories about a team member who has gone above and beyond. Other times, and more regularly, we create graphics specifically for the individual agents and celebrate wins like closed transactions or the number of new clients who hired them in the past month.

Some people will admit it and some people won’t, but everyone — and I mean everyone — at their core wants to be acknowledged for their efforts.

“The mistakes most team leaders make is that they focus too much on their own goals and not enough on the goals of their people.” – Ben Kinney, a real estate agent and Keller Williams broker-owner

4. Empower them

When you lead an organization, you can choose to lead from the top down (telling people what to do), or you can lead from the bottom up by empowering them with the ability to hold each other — and you — accountable.

One of the ways our team motivates our agents is by holding optional, peer-led accountability groups. This allows us to lead each other as a family, by empowering everyone to hold everyone else accountable, rather than having one hierarchical person doing the “accountability” from the top.

It’s rare, if even possible, that you’ll find a top-producing real estate agent who wants to be micromanaged or told what to do, but a lot of agents want to be accountable and are willing to opt in if they feel that accountability is an option as opposed to an order.

So ask yourself, “Am I empowering my team members or am I micromanaging them?”

“Invest in your people. It’s about their goals, their life, their future. You just show them that you can help them get there more efficiently and faster!” – Rachel Adams Lee, owner of The Rachel Adams Lee Group at Keller Williams Realty

As a leader of a real estate team, I know your job is hard. But it will only get tougher and tougher if you’re always losing your top people. Constantly having to replace people you spent time training and investing in can be a drain, both emotionally and financially.

Take the time upfront to slow down, make sure you’re following these four crucial keys to retaining your top talent, and watch your business blossom to heights it’s never been before.

Kevin Kauffman is an agent with eXp Realty and the host of the Kevin and Fred Show, a podcast for the real estate industry. 

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