The culture at your brokerage is key to retaining your team during this downturn. Livian CEO Adam Hergenrother says leadership needs to focus on production tools, not snacks and outings.

New markets require new approaches and tactics. Experts and industry leaders take the stage at Inman Connect New York in January to help navigate the market shift — and prepare for the next one. Meet the moment and join us. Register here.

Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Livian. He believes that business is nothing but a conduit for personal growth and embraces the company’s vision to Love How You Live. When he’s not leading and growing his organizations, you can find Adam either in the mountains or out in nature with his wife and three children.

2023 is going to be an interesting and challenging year for everyone in the real estate industry. We are going to have to work harder than we have had to in the past couple of years to get the same results. We will continue to see employees and agents move from company to company.

We’ll see companies eliminate positions, with no plans to rehire. We’ll see consumers slow down with some of their spending. And, we’ll also see companies soar, new products and entrepreneurs enter the market, employees getting promoted, new books and podcasts being released, and much more. 

The opportunity thought leaders are talking about

With every challenge comes opportunity. The best way to thrive and not just survive during challenging and uncertain times is by making sure that you are taking care of yourself first and preparing for whatever comes your way.

There is a lot you are not going to be able to control in the year ahead, but what you can control is your mindset, your spiritual growth, your leadership, your emotional and physical health, how you save and invest your money, and who you spend time with.

Focus on leading yourself first in those areas and you will be able to handle whatever shows up. Which will be important whether you are a team leader, a real estate operations professional or an agent in a brokerage.

There is a lot of competition, a constantly changing market and economy, as well as a lot of emotions to deal with on a daily basis as a real estate professional. How you lead yourself and then show up to your team and brokerage will impact everyone around you – including your customers, clients, and your team culture

Company vs. culture

Company and team cultures have been a huge topic of conversation over the past several decades. In fact, in many of my recent conversations with real estate agents and leaders around the country, I’ve been hearing that culture doesn’t really matter right now.

That they aren’t looking for the “fun and feel-good stuff” — they are looking for results in their businesses. 

That gave me pause, as our company has always been about 51 percent culture and 49 percent profit. Culture is very important to our organization, and to me, personally.

So, it was time to take a deeper dive into this feedback I was hearing. And I came to the conclusion that I think we may need to take a fresh look at what counts as culture as we enter this market shift. 

A company’s culture is defined as a shared set of goals, values, beliefs, attitudes and practices. There are many ways to achieve those shared goals and values, and though they might involve Top Golf outings, team call nights and Taco Tuesdays, those are not required to have a strong team culture. 

Based on the recent feedback I’ve been hearing, those are actually the fillers that many agents and teams are not looking for right now. They want more tactics and tangible implementation plans to shore up their businesses, stay ahead of their competition, see results and thrive. But that’s culture, too. 

Emphasize what’s important

That is what I really want to emphasize here. When our team talks about culture (like many teams), we aren’t referring to all the fun team perks and interpersonal interactions; we’re actually talking about our set of values, goals and beliefs. We believe we will be the No. 1 team in the country by profit with a team that is focused on high agent productivity of five-plus units per agent per month, and that we will do it all with our constant focus on work-life integration.

We are a culture of production-first.

Production leads to better agent attraction and retention. Production leads to a more profitable business that allows for more leverage, more investments into technology and leads, the ability to give more back to the community and more.

Production is what provides income to agents, so they are able to fund their ideal lifestyle.  

That’s what counts for culture for us. What about you? Are you clear on what your culture is? Look, not all cultures and environments are for everyone. The important part is getting incredibly clear on what your team culture is and then sharing that openly and honestly.

It’s better to be upfront about who you are and have an agent pass on joining your team than spend the time and energy trying to win them over after they find out what your culture is really like. Conversely, it’s also a heck of a lot easier to retain an agent who is in alignment with your team’s mission, vision, values, and culture. 

Bottom-line numbers

One type of culture isn’t necessarily better than another. But it is important to be transparent (whether your culture is about personal growth, bottom-line numbers, team BBQs, or radical conversations).

It’s disheartening and demotivating when a new agent or employee has an expectation for the team’s culture, but the team’s actions aren’t necessarily matching their words.

If the agent isn’t aligned with the culture because they misunderstood or were given an altruistic mission statement that wasn’t rooted in action, they are likely to leave to find a culture that fits them better. 

And right now especially, as I mentioned above, many agents will be looking for a culture that helps them increase their productivity first. Everything else will be secondary.

This is probably already a core component of your culture. After all, you run a real estate team where productivity matters! But is it clear? Are you communicating it consistently? Do you have communication and recruiting plans in place that help ensure your culture is being shared widely and often? 

Culture counts, no matter what market you are in. First, lead yourself, and focus on the activities that help you show up as your best. Next, get incredibly clear on what your culture and value proposition is (while ensuring it clearly defines how you help agents win in this market).

Then, ensure you are consistently communicating your vision and culture inside and outside of your organization. Be prepared to do the work, and get ready to thrive, not just survive, in 2023. 

Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Livian, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s companies and culture here.

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