Leading and working with a real estate team can be incredibly rewarding but also challenging as well. There is more that can be accomplished with multiple people working together.
However, getting everyone aligned with working toward team goals and having the same level of work ethic, focus and dedication are critical to generating success. Here are five problems and potential solutions:
Scenario 1: Low motivation, little self-initiative
Despite having a candid conversation about team expectations, structure, goals, etc., while interviewing a potential new member and bringing them on board, and all appears that the agent is in sync. Once they start and get “over the hump” of being new, their actions start to reveal otherwise.
They aren’t working on lead generation or ways to connect with others. There seem to be a lot of excuses or reasons to avoid these kinds of activities.
Rather than chastising them or expressing your displeasure, have a “check-in” meeting over coffee to see what you can find out in a relaxed conversation. You might learn more than you ever could rather than simply calling them into your office.
Offer some hands-on help to jump-start them in the right direction, whether that is you as a team leader or a productive member of your team who can serve as a mentor to them. Maybe it’s teaming up for a bit to make calls or door-knock together.
Have them assist another agent at an open house; perhaps they need some direction on what to do and how to do it in order to get going.
Scenario 2: Lack of communication
Communication is key to success in real estate. Whether that is with prospects, buyers, sellers, other agents, lenders as well as closing agents, agents can’t communicate enough to show that they are on top of what is going on, engaged and proactive about moving the needle forward.
A team member is not communicative about what they are working on, during meetings, handling a transaction, and so on, so the team leader is left to guess what they are up to. In fact, it seems the more you communicate, the less they do.
Have a candid meeting with the team member to discuss the importance of communication and lay out what you need them to do. It may not be as intuitive as you would expect it to be. Take them through a workflow of incubating a prospect or communicating with all involved parties during a transaction and what that should look like.
Perhaps they need to understand concrete examples. Pair them with a trusted team member or provide one on one coaching yourself so you can help nudge them with what they need to be communicating on and with whom.
This will take some time at first, depending on their level of experience, but instilling top-notch communication skills now will set the tone for the future with key problem-solving and closing skills that agents must have. Take some time to invest in coaching on both verbal and written communication.
Younger generations that have grown up texting may find picking up the phone to actually discuss a problem with another party more challenging, let alone how to craft a productive email. They may be overwhelmed by not knowing what to say and how to say it.
Don’t assume that all team members can effectively communicate without checking in on this aspect when someone joins the team.
Scenario 3: Lack of accountability
The team member does what they want and goes and comes as they please. Now granted they are an independent contractor, so this walks a fine line, but they are not showing any interest in attending meetings or engaging.
The team leader is continually chasing them down to check in and find out what they are up to. They may turn in a listing or sale here or there, but you don’t really know their plan or how they are spending their time.
The best thing in this situation is to arrange a coffee meeting with them to check in and take their temperature. Engage in a conversation about what they are up to and discuss why they wanted to be part of a team.
Ask a lot of conversational questions to get a sense of how it’s going and a sense of their expectations. Based on their feedback, you may have some decisions to make. If they seem interested in being part of the team, then some coaching is helpful on what you need from them accountability-wise and see if they are willing to commit to that.
Task them with being responsible for an aspect of a team meeting — either finding out some information to present or helping facilitate a discussion on a topic. This will help get them engaged and start to feel comfortable.
If the team member just wants to do their own thing and isn’t willing to make an effort to become more connected to the group, then it might be better to cut them loose and have them go on their own.
Scenario 4: Blind ambition, borderline behavior
The team member is ambitious and a go-getter, but their approach is somewhat “borderline” as far as ethics goes and they play to the edges of doing the right thing. This behavior can give you, your team and brokerage a bad reputation and may cause some ethical and legal consequences. They are adept at dodging rules and conveniently not realizing things.
A meeting with the team member is in order as soon as this behavior comes to light. Specific examples of their actions need to be discussed along with the potential ramifications or actual damage of what their behavior caused.
Corrective counseling is a must and this team member must be willing to reign their behavior in to change. The message needs to be sent that the “Golden Rule prevails” when it comes to all team activities and it is not your job to enable any team member or yourself to create liability for the team or the brokerage.
While they may not understand what the big deal is with contacting someone on the “Do Not Call List,” they do need to understand the hefty monetary fine that comes with it should that person file a complaint.
The team member agreement/policy should state that should a team member’s actions lead to a legal or ethical action or monetary fine, they will be held financially responsible. When it comes to money, that should get a team member’s attention.
If the team member is not willing to change or more incidents come to light after they’ve been advised, it is time to consider letting them go.
Scenario 5: Procrastination
The team member spends more time making excuses and “planning” vs. doing. As a team leader, it can be incredibly frustrating trying to implement various lead-generating activities, and in some cases supplying leads that you are buying, only for this team member not to perpetually dodge the work that generates business.
Once this behavior is identified, an intervention is needed to assess what is going on with this member. You need to find out why they are avoiding doing the essential activities to keep the team going.
- Is it because they lack confidence, skills or training?
- Are they a perfectionist type that thinks they can’t do something until they’ve ‘mastered” it?
While repetition builds mastery, they need to understand that they can only improve their skills if they directly implement them vs. “practicing” and that they have the full support of you and the entire team to help them on this journey. If you believe they have potential and just need some confidence, pair them up with a successful team member that they can shadow and mentor.
Have that team member work with them together for a bit each day on prospecting, whether that is knocking doors together or making calls, sending letters, etc. Perhaps that will be the jump start they need, and what you might end up with are two accountability partners who champion each other while encouraging each other’s success.
The procrastinator may end up becoming a great motivator as they grow more confident in what they are doing.
Having team members requires just as much time, care and attention as one’s real estate business. They are critical to any team’s success, which is why one weak link in the chain causes everyone else to overcompensate.
A team leader also needs to understand that people aren’t perfect and that they themselves are likely functioning on a very high level, hence they need to lower their expectations a bit and work to help teach and coach people, rather than expecting them to come out of the box shiny, perfect and ready to go.
Of course, if someone joins a team and determines real estate isn’t for them, their behavior and actions (or lack thereof) may determine that and no amount of coaching will help that situation.
In the end, working with a team is as much of an exercise in self-improvement, commitment to excellence and accountability for the team leader as it is for members on the team. Creating an environment of a “we” before “I” mentality, collaboration, learning and an ongoing commitment to continual improvement sets the stage for celebrating the group’s wins and nurturing their losses in what ultimately is a happy and inspiring place to prosper.
Cara Ameer is a broker associate and global luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.