Real estate agencies are in the business of relationships. Good relationships. As the race for new and repeat business intensifies, agencies need to avoid working with disengaged staff who will hold them back and potentially damage relationships that can take years to build.
Just as success can breed success, low morale and discontent can spread and grow like a silent cancer. Vendors and property owners will do business elsewhere.
Insync Surveys carried out a study recently involving the views of over 100,000 employees from around 200 organisations that identified the main differentiators of high-performance organisations from low-performance ones.
This research is the basis for my most recent book, 7 Business Habits That Drive High Performance.
Five of those seven habits go to the core of how you must engage staff to build a strong team culture in a competitive environment.
1 A shared narrative about a compelling future
If leaders don’t display confidence in the future of the agency, then who will? But the confidence needs to be well placed and genuine. Staff must be able to connect with it.
Your director and leaders must develop a clear narrative about why the agency is special and different, and why it is such a great place to work. It must connect with the emotions of your staff and their hearts – not just their minds.
2 Communicate clear strategies and goals
Your strategies and goals connect the vision of the future with everyday reality for employees. All real estate agency staff should be able to easily see how their role contributes to the achievement of the firm’s goals.
Our research shows that only 24 per cent of employees of low-performance organisations say they can easily refer to a list of their organisation’s main goals. The figure is more than double for high-performance organisations. Firms need to put back the goal posts – they need to make their goals clear.
3 Develop your staff
Don’t take the attitude: ‘I don’t want to develop my staff because they might leave and the development will be wasted’. Think about what happens if you don’t develop your people and they stay.
Developing staff can happen in many ways. On-the-job development normally makes up at least 70 per cent of a staff member’s development. While standard internal training courses are important, one size rarely fits all. Special assignments and challenging roles can be given to those who are keen to learn and progress. Real estate agents can also grow and develop enormously when they’re connected with internal or external mentors.
4 Go out of your way to recognise your staff
Yes, I mean it: go out of your way to recognise your employees. Often, the sales team are the heroes of agencies and get a lot of the limelight, but directors and senior staff must get into the habit of making a special effort to thank and recognise all their staff.
If directors and senior staff find a few spontaneous opportunities to recognise staff each week, it will make a big difference across the firm as those down the line model their behaviour. The ultimate aim is that saying “thank you” becomes a way of life in your agency.
5 Genuinely care for your staff
If you expect your staff to go above and beyond the call of duty, as most agencies do, you need to take the lead by showing you care for and will look after them. But you must be authentic, as Aussies are very good at spotting a fake.
Most real estate agents and property managers work six days a week and many evenings doing appraisals, attending opens, taking calls and negotiating sales. During down time, it’s important to offer some freedom and flexibility so staff can manage other areas of their life.
Most agencies don’t have very good feedback systems to ensure they know and can address the real concerns of staff.
You may have an opportunity to get better at seeking feedback and acting on it when appropriate. Care for your staff and they’ll take good care of your business.