A sense of team spirit between staff and agents boosts morale and makes clients feel like they have more resources at their disposal, according to The Agency’s Rainy Hake Austin.

The real estate industry has a reputation for being highly competitive. Agents might feel like it’s every individual for themselves when closing properties or pursuing new leads. A ruthless, dog-eat-dog company culture might be motivating for some, but it’s by no means the only way for an agency to succeed.

One of the core tenets of our company is a collaborative culture. When agents work together, they’re stronger than they are alone. By sharing information instead of gatekeeping it, your staff will generate a larger bank of knowledge. A sense of team spirit boosts agent morale and makes clients feel like they have more resources at their disposal.

Synergetic workplaces have ample benefits, but cultivating a collaborative company culture doesn’t happen overnight. Here are some strategies to encourage teamwork among your staff and agents: 

Be selective when hiring

In order to build a collaborative work environment, you’ll need to pay extra attention to the hiring process. Make sure all team members are a cultural fit who you can envision growing with the company over time. 

It’s not enough for a new hire to be experienced and motivated; you’ll need agents with great interpersonal skills who work well with others. The goal isn’t to grow faster than other agencies; it’s to build a team that wants to grow alongside you. 

Establish core company values

Agents thrive when they know what is expected of them. Starting with the interview and onboarding process, convey to new hires that your company values and rewards teamwork. Creating a set of core principles — and putting them in writing — provides a company mantra that employees can refer to when setting goals and making decisions.

We have an actual list of 10 “Rules” we live by. One of my favorites is Rule No. 4: All for One and One for All — which references our collaborative culture and connected global network. Rule No. 4 means when you work with one of us, you work with all of us.

Once you’ve solidified your company creed, find ways to reinforce it on a regular basis. Try holding team meetings where you encourage open conversation or share content from industry leaders that further your message. 

Lead by example

We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words. Your team will look to you for signs that your talk of teamwork is more than just talk. You can set an example by giving equal attention to all of your agents and sharing your knowledge and resources.

A team can’t thrive without strong leadership. It’s up to you to establish a workflow and keep your agents motivated and inspired. In a collaborative work environment, a leader must pay attention to the interests of their agents, not just the interests of the company. Empower your staff to reach out to you when they have questions or need guidance. 

Create shared goals and celebrate wins as a team

What better way to encourage teamwork than to work together toward a common aim? Your agents will no doubt have their own goals as well, but creating team objectives will foster collaboration. When you meet a goal, celebrate with a dinner or a happy hour to build camaraderie. 

We encourage managers and colleagues to nominate fellow team members for quarterly company awards that honor passion, leadership, innovation and collaboration. We announce the winners to the whole company at the end of each quarter and present them with a physical award as well. This is a great moment to celebrate individuals who are going above and beyond and exemplifying our company culture. 

Recognizing your agents’ successes is an integral part of keeping them motivated. Even in collaborative environments, it’s important to publicly acknowledge when an employee has an individual win or is standing out for their great attitude and work ethic. 

Keep in mind, however, that pitting agents against each other (e.g., “X has performed better than anyone else this month”) can erode the team dynamic. Instead, simply monitor agents’ progress over time (e.g., “X had their best month since they started working here”). Framing positive feedback in this way will motivate agents to keep improving without lowering the overall group’s morale.

Rainy Hake Austin is President of The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with her on Instagram.

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