The best real estate teams don’t “get” culture. They build it. Here are 5 ways to help your team open lines of communication, create positive team morale and ultimately build a unified, winning team.
At the heart of every business lies a mission statement. It’s the north star that sets the guiding principles and helps keep leaders, agents and admins focused on the tasks that matter and the values they share.
“Having that compass prevents distractions or chasing ‘shiny objects,’” says Holly Priestner, Director of Talent Acquisition & Engagement and Regional Director, Xperience Real Estate. “When making decisions, this makes it easy to say ‘yes’ if it moves the mission forward and ‘no’ if it does not.”
The first step, therefore, in creating a winning team culture is to create a mission statement and enlist your agents and admins to take ownership and action. Repeat the values at the beginning of every weekly or monthly meeting and plant the seeds to a culture in which the team leaders truly embody the values so that they’re “not just words on a wall,” says Priestner.
When consulting with leaders on organizational development, Priestner asks them to look at their mission and determine if it passes the 4 S test: Short, Sincere, Sticky and Simple.
Mission statements that meet this criteria will be more memorable, and agents and admins will be more likely to adopt them.
“Anyone in your organization should know the ‘why’ that drives the business,” says Priestner. “Be passionate about it and be able to articulate it.”
Once team leads have established a clear and engaging mission statement, they should recruit those agents and admins who live those values and make daily decisions in a way that clearly reflects the collective mission of the team.
“It’s easy to find someone who can perform a specific job,” says Priestner, “but your hires should be so much more than people just executing a job. Companies that have a strong culture have a hiring process in which candidates experience the mission and are vetted for a cultural fit as much as their skills and abilities.”
Great real estate teams provide a growth path for their team members through established models, systems and coaching that teach their agents to be business owners and entrepreneurs versus simply lead receivers and door openers, says Priestner.
Xperience, for instance, looks at where the agent starts their real estate journey and where they want to ultimately arrive. “This might be the leader of an $80 million real estate team who wants to start other businesses or retire. Or it might be a $5 million producer who aspires to grow their own team. Or it could be a new agent who is just getting started. Regardless, we have a model and a system that, when followed, can catapult you to your preferred future,” says Priestner.
Quentin Dane, co-owner of The DASH Realty Group, Raleigh, NC, agrees. “I think this is something that many teams have failed at for a long time,” he says. “They have a model in place and they don’t want their buyers agents to be anything other than buyers agents or listing specialists to be anything other than listing specialists.”
A good team today needs to have progression from joining and being a newbie to being one of the agents to maybe getting on a specialized team or becoming a team lead or a director of operations. So there’s a career path tied to the team.
— Quentin Dane, co-owner of The DASH Realty Group
Each week, the Xperience Real Estate team begins their Partner Calls with a shout-out to those who demonstrated the organization’s core values over the past several days. “There are hundreds of team members from across the country on this call,” says Priestner. “It makes those who are recognized feel good and reinforces why we’re in business.”
Positive reinforcement can also mean surrounding agents with many opportunities for positive collaboration.
Who you surround yourself with and your environment matters. Our team provides a collaborative environment that layers in coaching, systems and training.
— Holly Priestner, Director of Talent Acquisition & Engagement and Regional Director, Xperience Real Estate
Turns out, a team’s communication style with one another can greatly improve a team’s morale and predict its collective productivity. Several years ago, researchers at MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that specific teams outperformed others simply by the way they speak and listen to each other, more than other factors, including individual intelligence, personality, skill and substance. The researchers found the communication factors that mattered most included tone of voice, body language (facing one another when they speak), how much they talk versus listen, and levels of extroversion and empathy.
It’s also critical that team leads provide enough room to accommodate complementary partnerships that can help unify a team. For instance, team leads might encourage an exchange of ideas between the tech-savvy Millennial agent and the seasoned, relationship-oriented Boomer or between a listing agent and a buyers agent with different perspectives.
While top team leads stress the importance of hiring individuals who are aligned to the team’s goals and values, it’s equally important that agents and admins feel comfortable to contribute new ideas.
“I don’t think a team leader’s job is to ensure that the team lead’s voice is heard; it’s to ensure that everyone else’s voice is heard,” says Dane. “Rather than simply push their agenda, they need to be the collective voice of the team.”
Great leads also represent the team members in their investing choices.
“Today’s agents want to know what you’re doing with their money. How are you adding value back to them?” Dane asks. “When you’re making capital investments, are you surveying the people who matter — the agents and admins who are executing your systems and building the buy-in around your ideas?”
Just as buyers and sellers want to know what kind of value an agent is adding back, agents demand the same of their team lead. “Are you putting it back in your pocket or investing back in the team?” he asks. “And when you’re investing, are you asking for their buy-in?”
While you can’t please everyone and will rarely get 100% consensus on a large team, it’s critical that team leaders fortify their decisions with true conviction and logical rationale. “A leader has to make decisions and needs to have conviction in their decisions. Your team needs to believe you believe,” Dane says. “Deliver that message in your voice and temperament. Don’t be afraid or ashamed of the standards you set.”
Part of leading with conviction is being genuine and holding each team member accountable, including the team lead. Think of the sports teams that’s composed of like-minded people who hold each other accountable in both the good and bad. “I want these people to hold me to the same standards that I hold them to,” Dane says.
While great team leads won’t always get 100% buy in from their agents, the team members will be more likely to respect your decisions if they know that you believe in a direction.
The digital tools leads bring to the team can have a big impact on its collaboration. An all-in-one transaction management system designed specifically for real estate teams, like dotloop for Teams, for instance, naturally encourages collaboration by providing admins with seamless compliance tools and the freedom to toggle between agents’ profiles with a single log-on; team leads with real-time visibility; and agents with transacting tools like Loop Templates. Watch a recorded demo of the dotloop for Teams platform.