It’s no wonder that Teams are becoming a force to be reckoned with in real estate: an effective team can be highly productive, both in terms of closing volume and customer service. But building an effective Real Estate Team is not easy — even if you stack a team with top performers, results can still be hit or miss.
Team building has been a hot topic in the business world for decades, and conventional wisdom states that team success depends on qualitative attributes like having a good leader, skilled followers, and a strong sense of shared commitment.
But the latest research has shown that while these qualitative attributes are certainly important, the single most important factor is less obvious.
To help determine differences between high-performing teams that “clicked” and ones that didn’t, researchers at MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory compared two teams in an environment where performance would be easily measurable — a bank call center. Though the structures of the teams they assessed were nearly identical, their results were markedly different.
The researchers quickly realized that the difference wasn’t in what the team was communicating, but how they were doing it. According to MIT Lab Director Alex Pentland, “We could sense a buzz in a team even if we couldn’t understand what the team members were talking about.” And to measure this kind of complex behavior, they were going to need to find a new way to collect the data.
As you can imagine, the information they collected was complex and involved creating new technology; you can read more in the Harvard Business Review. However, for key takeaways – and strategies to implement them in your real estate business – read on.
The researchers noticed that no matter the industry, effective teams shared certain qualities.
Every team member keeps their input short and sweet, and talks and listens in roughly equal measure. Tactics to try with your team:
• Hold meetings standing up. Standing often makes meetings move faster and encourages people to keep communication brief.
• Notice when louder team members dominate the conversation and encourage quieter team members – like more junior agents – to speak up.
Effective teams don’t just wait for the leader to lead discussions. Rather than having the team leader constantly act as moderator, team members communicate with each other – whether in formal meetings, back-channel, or side-conversations. And not only do team members enjoy working with each other, they actually know and care about each other’s lives. To facilitate this communication and camaraderie on your team:
• Working on a big problem? Break your team into smaller groups, ask each group to come up with a solution, then re-convene and present every approach. Different approaches are likely to spur back-channel and side-conversations.
• Create more organic opportunities to connect. Food is a great motivator, whether standing around the water cooler, the coffee pot, or chipping in a few bucks to order pizza for the office.
While communication and camaraderie are essential for good teamwork, high-performing teams seek knowledge, inspirations, and solutions from outside the team, then bring the information back. To encourage learning and sharing:
• Set up internal distribution channels — like an email listhost or chatroom — as dedicated spaces for members to share and discuss information gleaned from articles, industry events, classes, etc.
• Host a “lunch and learn” series. The content is up to you: have team members present on an area of expertise, read and discuss industry reports, bring in a guest speaker.
Creating conditions for excellence takes work, which sometimes makes it seem contrary to good management practice. However, creating an environment for effective teamwork is always worth the upfront investment. Case in point: based on MIT’s research, the bank call center teams in the MIT study changed their coffee break so that all team members were off at the same time. This single move, which did not make sense from a management standpoint — you never want a whole team offline at once — led to measurably better performance: a marked improvement in low-performing teams, $15 million a year in productivity increases, and double-digit gains in employee satisfaction.