In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic. Anthony is the broker-owner of South Florida’s largest RE/MAX office and a working agent who sells more than 100 homes each year.
This month’s situation:
A successful veteran agent prefers to work completely independently, with little to no interaction with her office colleagues. Should her broker help her to better engage with her fellow agents — and if so, how?
I understand the desire for my broker to develop “team spirit” and office camaraderie, but all that stuff has never been for me. Now that we are coming out of isolation from the pandemic, it seems like he is trying to make up for lost time with a flurry of social events, meetings and other big gatherings, and as the kids say … I’m not feelin’ it!
Real estate is my profession, and I treat my business as just that — a business. While I am polite and respectful of colleagues and staffers in the office, I have no desire to build personal relationships with them. Don’t get me wrong — my social circle is also important to me; I just don’t mix the two.
I discovered years ago that I work best completely on my own and am most productive in my home office with just a virtual assistant to keep me company. These past two years only enhanced my effectiveness in working alone and made me even more productive.
I still make the most of the support staff and tools provided by the company and appreciate the benefit of the brand. (Those were important factors for me when I chose to affiliate with this company.)
The real estate office itself, however, is just a place for me to get in, get my work done, and get out as quickly as possible. If this makes me seem aloof to my more socially inclined colleagues, so be it.
Time is the one limitation in life, and I choose to put the hours I devote to work to the best use and save my leisure time for my personal life. To be honest, I think the funds used for all these parties and social events would be much better spent on marketing perks or technology that would increase production.
To each his own. I totally accept and respect this agent’s desire to work independently from her colleagues if that’s what makes her comfortable. I would only say that she’s missing out on some of the biggest and best advantages of being associated with a larger office — access to the collective wisdom, experience and buyers/sellers of other successful agents.
Just as consumers tend to work with agents they know and like, other agents cooperate more readily with colleagues in their sphere.
Taking this idea even further, I’ve seen companionship with fellow agents compel top producers to raise their game organically. If one only plays tennis against a ball machine, they’ll just stay at a certain level — but if they join a league or compete against better players, their skills and abilities rise accordingly.
No one is suggesting that this agent recruit a squad of new besties, link arms and sing Kumbaya, or change anything about the way she works. However, a few meaningful appearances at intra-office events would go a long way in connecting her with business opportunities that can only be made with personal, face-to-face conversations.
By sharing some client war stories or discovering similar interests, colleagues will be more comfortable referring buyers and sellers to her, knowing that they have a reliable (and relatable) professional working on the other end of the deal.
Only through these meetings could they learn that she works a certain neighborhood or building or speaks the same foreign language as her customers.
How to resolve
Every broker faces this decision when establishing their office: Do they create a culture that is based upon only one type of agent personality and hire accordingly to fit that culture, or build one that encompasses all types of personalities?
There is no easy or best answer, but if the broker chooses the latter, accommodating introverted and extroverted agents takes some flexibility — and creativity.
Take intra-office events, for example. Most agents view them as opportunities to bond and let off some steam, but introverted agents have no use for them and will avoid like the plague. By switching gears just a bit, however, the broker can frame an event as a networking opportunity to highlight the practical and industrial benefits of attending, which would appeal to all personality types.
Rather than “a fun night of bowling!” for example, the broker can host an “impactful fundraiser” for a well-connected charity where local business leaders will be present.
The “company picnic” can become a “lunch and learn” with cutting-edge speakers. These networking opportunities — presented in the guise of social events — provide the chance for this agent to widen her sphere, learn about opportunities a little bit sooner, and build mutually beneficial relationships.
Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty, with offices in Hollywood Beach, Davie, Miramar, North Miami, South Miami, Kendall, and the Florida Keys, and where he leads the activities of more than 190 agents. Follow Anthony on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/anthonyaskowitz/
NOTE: Anthony is not an attorney and does not give legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney regarding matters discussed in this column.