I was having a conversation with another broker over the holiday season, and the topic of gratitude came up. One of his top agents announced that she was switching companies at the end of the year, specifically because she didn’t feel appreciated. Other firms had been after her for years, but this new broker reached out to recruit her — and he made her feel important and respected, the agent said.
My broker friend didn’t feel that he had disrespected the agent or intentionally made her feel unimportant. But what the broker didn’t understand was that the agent’s perceptions of the broker’s behavior mattered more than what the broker’s intentions might have been. If the agent had felt appreciated and essential to the group, she might not have been recruitable.
So how do you show appreciation to your agents aside from saying “thank you” verbally? It’s all about operating with an attitude of gratitude. Here are four simple ways you can communicate gratitude to your team.
Recognize your agents
Recognition is more than just giving a plaque at the annual awards ceremony. When only shown once a year, recognition quickly fades in the recipient’s memory.
Instead of an annual thank-you, give kudos for both big and small things more often. Call someone out for doing something they didn’t have to do, or even better, that they didn’t expect anyone to notice.
This year was strange, and many of us in the office were about to skip the holiday office decorating. Out of caution for rising virus numbers, our group was operating throughout most of 2020 quietly in the office, with the front door locked and visitors asked to make an appointment with their agent in advance.
One agent took it upon herself to unbox the tree and decorations to surprise us. I posted photos of the tree and thanked her on our private Facebook office group. Others chimed in with ideas to keep the tree up past the holidays, and she switched the ornaments out for red hearts and snowflakes.
A little public praise for small acts of kindness goes a long way — not only in making someone feel special but also in giving the group a boost of camaraderie and morale.
Along with recognition, you can give smaller, more frequent tokens of your appreciation to others. Randomly leave someone’s favorite candy bar on their desk. If you know someone who likes a particular store, include a gift card when they close a tough transaction. I use Loop&Tie to send $25 or $50 vouchers so they can pick out their own gifts.
Give rewards when you have a reason, like seeing someone go out of their way to help a newer agent in the office, for example. But also give random gifts just to let someone know you’re thinking of them.
Share your time
Time truly is a gift. You can walk brusquely past your agents to your office because you have a mission to accomplish or something heavy is on your plate. Or you can leisurely stop at someone’s desk to ask how their day is going. Sometimes we all just have to push past and get something done. Some days are harder than others. But taking the time simply to check in and see how someone is doing shows you care.
During the 2020 spring lockdown, I made sure I called each one of my agents at least once a week. I didn’t start the conversation by asking about their deals. I asked how their family was doing and if they needed anything. I checked in with them personally and professionally.
On the day-to-day, I also manage my office by walking around. About half of my 12 agents are in the office almost every single day. I stop in at their offices and sit by their desks to chat sometimes. I usually end the conversation by asking if there is anything they need from me right now to make things easier. What are their pain points or workflow logjams?
I may not be able to solve every issue, and some of their requests might not be feasible, but they know I will try to fix the pain points. Being willing to stop your work to take their call or sit and focus on them for a few minutes speaks volumes about your appreciation for them.
Giving someone recognition or rewards without giving them your time or respect pretty much wipes out the whole appreciation exercise. As a generalization, agents do want recognition for their accomplishments. They thrive on healthy competition and want to know their number of transactions or where they stand in GCI. But without respect, even the most lauded agent in the office won’t feel satisfied.
Respect is more than just recognizing units or dollars brought into the office. It’s making agents and staff feel that they are genuinely valued. They want to feel seen and know that their opinions matter. They want to know that management believes that they are vital to the success of the company.
The broker who lost his top producer at the end of 2020 ultimately lost her because she didn’t feel respected or valued by him. He didn’t realize the signals he was sending out were not ones of appreciation or gratitude.
Gratitude is not that difficult to show, and it does not have to be expensive to give. It’s incredible to watch agents smile and glow when they receive your attention and appreciation. Take a quick temperature check of your office culture and your attitude. What signals are you sending out to your agents? Try adjusting it to show appreciation more often, and see what a difference it makes in your own office.