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Got a minute? If you're a busy manager, that's about all you have. That's why Carla Cross, management coach, speaker, and author, has created this blog just for you, with ready-to-use tips to master management through people.

Archive for staff

This blog is excerpted from my new eBook, What They Don’t Teach You in Pre-License School. 

As managers, I want you to know the advice I’m giving to prospective agents.

coachingAs you’re interviewing, you may be offered these things:

  • An accountability coach (the manager or a professional coach affiliated with that office)
  • A peer coach
  • Become a team member
  • Become an assistant

In this blog, we’ll tackle the pros and cons of getting a coach or a mentor.

What about Getting a Coach?

I hope your manager will become your accountability coach. But, many managers promise to ‘coach you’. However, that quickly becomes a ‘got a minute’ answer man function instead of a focused, linear, goal-oriented action coaching. You don’t need a coach just for answers. You need a coach to hold you accountable to your goals and action plan.

Choosing a Coach

Here are three important points you should consider as you search for a coach:

  1. The specific program should be highly organized and precisely out­lined with checklists and systems. Ask, “What system are you going to use to coach me?” You need a specific game plan, because you are new. You have no history.
  2. The specific program should be related to a “game plan”—a busi­ness start-up plan. Ask, “What game plan are you going to use?”
  3. The coaches should be trained and coached themselves. Ask, “What’s your coaching background, and what sales principles do you believe in?” For example, each of our coaches in the Carla Cross Coaching program has been trained by me and coached regularly by me.

 Positives: Having a coach keeps you on track, motivated, and, ide­ally, inspired to reach your goals.

Watch out for: Your coach is trained and dedicated to your success, and is following a proven game plan (otherwise you’ll be paying just to talk to someone every once in a while).

Types of Coaches

Professional coach: Someone trained to coach, who uses a specific program and who is paid to be your coach. If you’re considering a professional coach, find out the specific program the coach will use to coach you. Get expectations in writing, and give your expectations in writing. You should expect to sign a 3-12 month contract.

Manager coach or in-office coach: Someone who may be trained as a coach, who has agreed to coach you. May be paid from your commissions or from a combination of office/your commissions. May be paid on an hourly based by the agent. Be sure this coach is prepared to be your accountability coach, has a specific schedule with you, and a specific start-up plan to coach you. Otherwise, you’re just getting an ‘advice session’.

Peer coach: Someone in the office, an agent, who has agreed to be your coach. However, this could be anything from

  •           Answer questions
  •           Let you ‘shadow them’ (see how they do a listing/buyer presentation or offer presentation)
  •          Be your accountability coach

Most peer coaches don’t have a coaching program to coach to, and haven’t been trained. They are also at a loss with what to do if the agent refuses to do the work.

In my experience, the agent has the highest hopes that the peer coach will fulfill his dreams of whatever coaching is to him. The peer coach is hoping the agent just doesn’t ask too many questions!

If you’re going to work with a peer coach, get in writing exactly what that peer coach is willing to do with and for you. Bad peer coaching can turn into a nightmare—for both parties.

Agents’ advice: Dozens of experienced agents have told me they wish they had started with a professional coach. If you can find one to trust—and to follow—you’ll shorten your learning curve dramatically and easily pay for the coaching fee. Plus, you’ll establish a successful long-term career.

Next, we’ll discuss three ‘safety-nets’ that some new agents consider—because they’re afraid they will not be able to generate enough commissions by relying solely on their own work.

Getting a Mentor

What is a ‘mentor’? There’s not a clearly defined job function. Mentors are usually seasoned agents who offer to help new agents. They may

  •           Offer advice
  •           Allow you to shadow them
  •           Ask you to do parts of their business

New agents love the thought of a mentor, because they have so many questions. And, they think the mentor will be their ‘answer man’. But, I’ve observed that having an ‘answer man’ surely doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, it may impede an agent getting into action. How? An agent may think he needs more and more information before he will act. Then, he just keeps coming to the mentor for every question under the sun. And, the more the new agent knows, the more frightened he becomes. Plus, the advice received from the mentor may not be in the new agent’s best interest.

If you are considering a mentor, get in writing exactly what the mentor will do for you.

Big question: Why is the mentor willing to help you? What does the mentor expect from you?

Treat getting a coach or a mentor as an employment issue. Create good questions and interview. Armed with the advice above, you’ll make a good decision.

Managers: How would you address the concerns above?

 

Many managers tell me that the hardest thing they have to do is to hire staff. I think that’s because most of us never had any training in how to hire staff (or hire agents, for that matter). During a 3-day management symposium I taught in South Carolina, and one of my students emailed me: “Can you give me some tips to  assure I don’t make a hiring mistake with staff? If any of us hasn’t made mistakes hiring staff, please comment! I know I’ve made many–and that’s why I’ve developed the tips here.
So, here are four surefire tips  for you.
 
1. Create the right kind of questions from your job description
 
Using that job description you created (you did create one, didn’t you?) for your staff position, create past-based questions that tell you if the candidate has the skills and qualities you need. For example. You’re looking for someone who cares about the company. Here’s the question: “In your past jobs, give me 3 examples of how you watched out for the company’s best interests.” Listen and probe.
For more information on behavioral predictors, see The Complete Recruiter and my eBook on interviewing, Your Blueprint for Selecting Winners.
 
2. Follow a planned, proven interview process to assure you get all the information you need
 
Most of us don’t interview; we, just sell. We don’t find out the ‘secrets’ about the candidate, but, the candidate sure finds out about us! If you need a proven process, see Your Blueprint for Selecting Winners. I created 8 steps to use each time for a smooth, professional interview.
 
3. Use a Behavioral Profile 
 
I’d also suggest you use a behavioral profile, for those who pass your first interview. Use it to gather information prior to your second interview. In our coaching company, we use Michael Abelson’s: www.abelson.net. It’s well worth it because you find out things that are very hard to discover in the ‘live’ interview. Then, you go back and ask more past-based questions about those areas. That’s called ‘validating’.
 
4. Check references “3 deep” 
 
Be sure to check references–not just the ones the candidate gives you, but go ‘3 deep’. That means to ask the people the candidate gives you, ‘Who else could I contact about this candidate’? Go 2 people deep from each of the names the candidate gives you. That way, you’re sure to get a better, less biased picture of the candidate.
 
Now, you have those four surefire tips to avoid staff hiring mistakes. They would work as well hiring salespeople, wouldn’t they?
I just taught a 3-day management symposium in South Carolina, and one of my students emailed me: “Can you give me some tips to  assure I don’t make a hiring mistake with staff? If any of us hasn’t made mistakes hiring staff, please comment! I know I’ve made many–and that’s why I’ve developed the tips here.
So, here are four surefire tips  for you.
1. Create the right kind of questions from your job description
Using that job description you created (you did create one, didn’t you?) for your staff position, create past-based questions that tell you if the candidate has the skills and qualities you need. For example. You’re looking for someone who cares about the company. Here’s the question: “In your past jobs, give me 3 examples of how you watched out for the company’s best interests.” Listen and probe.
For more information on behavioral predictors, see The Complete Recruiter and my eBook on interviewing, Your Blueprint for Selecting Winners.
2. Follow a planned, proven interview process to assure you get all the information you need
Most of us don’t interview; we, just sell. We don’t find out the ‘secrets’ about the candidate, but, the candidate sure finds out about us! If you need a proven process, see Your Blueprint for Selecting Winners. I created 8 steps to use each time for a smooth, professional interview.

3. Use a Behavioral Profile

I’d also suggest you use a behavioral profile, for those who pass your first interview. Use it to gather information prior to your second interview. In our coaching company, we use Michael Abelson’s: www.abelson.net. It’s well worth it because you find out things that are very hard to discover in the ‘live’ interview. Then, you go back and ask more past-based questions about those areas. That’s called ‘validating’.

4. Check references “3 deep”

Be sure to check references–not just the ones the candidate gives you, but go ‘3 deep’. That means to ask the people the candidate gives you, ‘Who else could I contact about this candidate’? Go 2 people deep from each of the names the candidate gives you. That way, you’re sure to get a better, less biased picture of the candidate.

Now, you have those four surefire tips to avoid staff hiring mistakes. They would work as well hiring salespeople, wouldn’t they?
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