You’ve grown to a level that requires additional leadership. The founder is overworked, her right-hand person has a full calendar, and the managers are operating with unsustainable workloads.
The agents are peaking, and there are plenty of recruits with too few interview slots. Is it time to add an additional leader to your brokerage? Here are three tips to succeed in finding the right person.
1. Define the process
I’ve made the mistake myself — identifying a talented candidate before defining a role. It leads to hiring great talent who, six months later, is clearly not the right fit. Take the time to define your process before ever identifying a candidate.
First, get clarity on the task. What does the organization need this person to do? How do you measure success in the role? Build a bullet list of key objectives, then narrow the list down to the seven most important activities.
This list becomes the foundation for your job description, the content of your public announcement and the severe measure of every candidate you interview. Can they perform these seven assignments with excellence? Congrats, you now have the horse in front of the cart.
Next, establish a timeline. Many organizations decide to hire someone, take a month to organize their thoughts, another month to consult with human resources, then interview some people and then change the job description. Then, budget season arrives and reshapes the position. What a mess.
Finding and hiring the right candidate requires a clear timeline. Define your process by establishing actions with deadlines — a written job description, input from influencers, a time period for applications, calendar blocks for interviews, a target date for offer and a clear start date for your new leader. Work your way back in the timeline from your desired hire date to create the timeline, and adjust as needed.
Third, create scripted interviews, predominantly filled with questions to identify the candidates’ abilities and experiences with your seven key qualities. If you are looking for candidates who can hold the attention of 300 agents, then ask them to tell you about a time when they successfully impacted an audience of that size.
In addition to a planned list of questions, make sure to include multiple interviewers. More perspectives create more insights into each finalist. In most interview sessions, embrace a 70/30 ratio — get the candidate talking 70 percent of the time while the interviewer only speaks 30 percent, primarily with questions and encouragements to “tell me more.”
Defining compensation is critical in the process. It’s obvious, but often missed. Compensation range determines the quality range of candidates you can attract.
Imagine an organization that seeks a great leader, heavy travel requirements and major results, and yet offers a salary range that approximates a high-level assistant in the market. I’ve seen it. Everyone involved ends up frustrated, and the position is usually filled by someone who won’t succeed.
2. Assess the candidates
How do we know if we found the right person? Several candidates may be qualified. It’s tempting to rush at this stage, advancing the candidate you “like.” Step back, and filter the decision with these evaluations.
Consider the candidate’s formal — and more importantly — informal learning experiences. Books, articles, industry news, podcasts and mentors all contribute to learning. Dig in with questions to find out how they learn and what they know.
A new leader entering your organization has a tremendous amount to learn — personalities, back stories, culture, lingo, geography, policies and unwritten rules. Is your candidate a person who has embraced learning as a lifetime habit?
How have life experiences shaped the candidate? Family history, personal finances, and previous work locations and companies all contribute to who each of us are. Especially important are obstacles they have overcome to succeed anyway.
Explore, question, and identify how these events make the candidate who she or he is today. Perhaps your team needs a life perspective that differs from an existing homogeneous group.
Ask the “why” questions, starting with: Why do you want this job? Why are you interested in this company, and how will this position impact your career?
I once hired a fantastic leader who left after only six months to return to his previous organization. I had failed to ask the question: Why would you be willing to leave your current role? I missed deciphering the strong, but strained, connection he had with his previous leadership team. Enthusiasm for your position must be a match for the hire to be successful.
3. Evaluate chemistry
Even if a candidate meets all requirements to this point, he or she still needs to fit in with your current team. A “chemistry” fit is critical. Before hiring, determine what missing “chemical” element benefits your current group.
- Agitator: An agitator is someone who will arrive and create friction. Long-tenured or under performing leadership teams accustomed to a routine may be activated to new thinking and better performance by the arrival of an agitator.
- Catalyst: A catalyst is the missing person who allows a talented team to reach optimal performance. Note the addition of Mookie Betts to this year’s World Series champions. The L.A. Dodgers made the playoffs seven consecutive seasons prior to his arrival, but failed to win the series each year. The Dodgers needed that one catalyst player to lead their talented team to the ultimate achievement. If your team is performing consistently well but has a higher level to reach, find your catalyst.
- Harmonizer: A third chemistry type is harmonizer. Some people are meant to sing lead; others bring harmony to the group. Your staff may have strong potential in multiple divisions, but maximum performance arrives when one or more leaders contribute to blending the efforts of each division. Harmonizers blend great talent together.
- Healer: When the office team is skilled but broken, the company needs a healer. Frazzled relationships, evident distrust and unmet goals are characteristic of this situation. Consider hiring a leader who can impact his or her own division, but also works between others to bring healing and renewed connection to what’s broken among the team.
Defining a clear process, evaluating a candidate thoroughly and making the best chemistry match will identify a premium candidate and elevate your brokerage performance. Keep growing!
Kevin Woody is a real estate brokerage consultant and former CEO at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Paracle. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.