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Across the real estate landscape, margins are down, and there is more competition than ever for agents. Brokerage owners with greater resources seem to be at an advantage when making their companies “the place to be” with financial incentives and a pampering environment.
If you are a more traditional brokerage without a sexy image or big budget, how can you position yourself from a branding standpoint so that people want to be part of your corporate culture? How can you create a culture where both agents and support staff feel valued and free to be the best version of themselves, driving results for your brokerage?
Here are four proven practices to help you create a team culture that attracts — and retains — productive agents, without breaking the bank.
Focus on the team vs. the individual
It’s easy to get caught up in addressing imperative “emergencies” and demands from individual agents or employees. Instead of randomly reacting, carve out time to look at the holistic setup of the team and its members’ needs and wants, both on the corporate and agent level.
Serving needs that are based on mutual respect, realistic expectations and true urgency rather than drama allows for smoother interactions.
The key is to manage and attract agents and employees who are aligned with your company’s values and are operating based on those values. (Hint: This requires senior management to consistently reinforce, communicate and live by those values as well.)
An environment made up of individuals who all come together with a shared purpose and set of values attracts more cohesive professionals and reinforces your brand. After all, people are arguably the cornerstone of the brokerage corporate identity, and experience shows that culture and the people who exemplify that culture drive results.
Implement programs and processes for higher achievement
The various aspects of running a business — from legal to financial to marketing — can be overwhelming. From a brokerage perspective, rather than wondering what to add to the mix of bells and whistles available to agents, the better question might be: What programs and processes are already working toward the goal of higher achievement?
When it comes to programs and processes, less is often more, and from a productivity perspective, this motto is the guiding star. Instead of adding the next shiny object that supposedly takes the agents and the brokerage to the next level, evaluate what’s in place, what’s not and where there’s a gap.
The reality is that most programs and resources are only as good as their adoption rate, and often the required training and implementation in the field is lacking. Evaluating and effectively introducing key initiatives while providing support and training resources leads to a bigger impact and the desired outcome.
In terms of adoption and the resources available to move from rollout to impact on an agent’s business, it’s important to involve key individuals and make them part of the process for more buy-in and more effective programs and operations.
So often, brokerages invest in programs, resources and processes that are underutilized or not effectively rolled out and tested in practical terms. These “resources” do little to attract agents to the brokerage while further marginalizing the financial health of the brokerage.
Realize that the needs and strengths of the individual agent range widely. That’s why it is even more important to align or put in place processes that meet the agent where they’re at. This contributes to increased connection and loyalty and leads to improved growth and higher achievement.
Discourage ego-driven decision-making
It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again because it’s that important: The real estate industry is full of strong personalities, and frequently, those with the biggest egos get the attention. Furthermore, borderline-disrespectful behavior is all too frequent among the players within various brokerages. Both from the corporate and agent perspective, a strong culture is founded on not tolerating such behavior.
Making decisions from a place of shared values and mutual respect leads to the desired group outcomes and alignment with the brokerage’s overall goals. By contrast, letting egos drive the decisions leads to disconnected actions and short-sighted results, leaving one person happy while other agents or employees feel undervalued.
Ensure effective leadership
One of the most important skills brokerage leaders can cultivate is empathy — putting themselves in the shoes of individual team members across functions and trying to understand where they come from. From there, solutions can be discovered that are based on a foundation of respect and understanding.
Some of the most effective leaders have mastered the art of making people feel cared for and truly valued both inside and outside of the organization. This approach requires the desire to understand each individual’s point of view, setting the stage for finding win-win solutions.
When done right, creating an extraordinary company culture across organizational levels based on strong relationships and shared values has a direct correlation to greater employee and agent retention and satisfaction. This, in turn, acts as a recruiting vehicle when productive agents and happy employees attract others like them.
A strong and engaging culture improves performance levels and ultimately drives financial results. Who doesn’t want to be part of that?
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.