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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 termination

So you think you can’t fire Joe? Why are you keeping that deadwood, anyway? Okay. That’s a pretty blunt statement. But, good agents resent the ‘deadwood’. They’ve told me that time and again. Non-productive agents waste their time, and communicate from management that work ethic doesn’t matter in that office. Yet, managers are reluctant to cut anyone loose. Today, though, there are few benefits of keeping someone who demonstrates he/she is not interested in being productive.

Agents: Read this and tell me if you have deadwood in your office that slows you down. Why do you think managers keep the deadwood?

Everyone has a Joe (or Josephine) in their office. Joe’s been an agent for six years. He’s the guy who makes coffee every morning. He’s the guy who takes people’s open houses (although he never picks up a client). He’s even the guy who steps in when someone in the office can’t make their floor time (but he has never converted an inquiry to a client…). He’s also the guy who doesn’t sell a stick of real estate. Woops. I misspoke. He did sell one home once. It was during the ‘on fire’ market. Joe was on floor time. He got a walk in: A buyer who found the home himself, had cash, and was willing to write it up at Joe’s convenience. (After closing, Joe didn’t follow up with the client again. After all, the sale is over, isn’t it?) 

What’s the matter with just keeping Joe? 

Nothing, if you don’t care about your bottom line. Brokers tell me that a poor hire or a non-productive agent costs them nothing. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case.

Here’s How Joe Costs You $$$$$–Lots of $$$$$$  

If you read nothing else in this blog, please read this line: 

Joe is a walking billboard for failure—an effective marketing strategy that communicates your office’s failure to make him successful, and your failure to making him successful. 

Joe the Billboard publicizes the outcomes from your recruiting, training, and coaching.

In my next blog, I’ll give you the costs of retaining Joe. You’ll be shocked!

A Tool to Re-Energize, Retain, and Figure Out Who To Send Next Door.

My On Track to Success in 30 Days System for the Experienced Agent is a great way to see if your ‘Joe’ or Josephine really intends to go to work—and goes to work. I’ve provided t he link to the agents’ and coach’s program here. It will get agents back in the game—with confidence and results.

Do  you put off letting someone go? You’re not alone. How to let someone go fairly–with grace–is a huge challenge for many managers. This challenge just came up again. I was just asked by an association of real estate companies to do a leadership webinar on standards. Before I do a ‘live’ presentation or a webinar for a particular group, I use my Pre-Conference Survey to find out exactly what their needs are.

(Note: If you do presentations for ‘outside groups’, consider making a pre-conference survey so you find out their exact needs, cultural specifics, and market differences. It makes a huge difference in your ability to deliver to their needs). This was the question that stood out most to me in the survey.

Question: How Do You Terminate Someone Fairly and Effectively?

Do you believe that the person who is failing knows he/she is failing? Of course they do. And, the longer they fail, the further down their self-esteem sinks, the further their confidence shrinks, and, finally,

the person simply quits working!

They still may be employed/contracted with you, but, they aren’t doing the things necessary to move their job forward. So, it’s not fair to simply let them continue failing. Nothing will change. You must step in.

The ‘One Last Chance’ Conversation and System

I’m a huge believer in game plans and systems for situations. That means you are fair with everyone. One of the reasons managers don’t want to fire is that they are afraid they will be unfair–or perceived as unfair. The way to take away those fears is to implement a system to give each person one last chance (this is after you have tried your normal coaching and training methods).

What’s in the One Last Chance’ Conversation

Here are the steps to terminate someone fairly and with grace.

1. Call the meeting. Do not engage in small talk. This is serious; it has no social aspect.
2. State that the person has not met your standards (minimum expectations). You DO have those in place, right?
3. Tell the person you will provide them one last chance.
4. Show them the performance system you will use (something like The On Track System to Success in 30 Days).
5. Get agreement that the person will use the system.

Make The Time Frame Short

I have been snookered by the best of them! I’ve learned to make the time frame no more than 30 days. You want that person to go right to work. You also must reserve the right to terminate at any time.

Good News: They Will Let Themselves Go 50% of the Time

You will find that many people are just waiting for you to provide that last chance, so they can face the fact they really don’t want to work. They will let themselves go.

When You Terminate

You have given them a fair chance. You have been straightforward. They have not gone to work. All you have to do in your termination conversation is to state just that. 95% of the time you will get no argument. In fact, they will thank you for being honest with them. Using these five pointers will allow you to let them go with grace, and relieve your mind that you are fair in your termination guidelines.

How would you rate your termination system: graceful or g–awful? How to let someone go fairly–with grace–is a huge challenge for many managers. This challenge just came up again. I was just asked by an association of real estate companies to do a leadership webinar on standards. Before I do a ‘live’ presentation or a webinar for a particular group, I use my Pre-Conference Survey to find out exactly what their needs are.

(Note: If you do presentations for ‘outside groups’, consider making a pre-conference survey so you find out their exact needs, cultural specifics, and market differences. It makes a huge difference in your ability to deliver to their needs). This was the question that stood out most to me in the survey.

Question: How Do You Terminate Someone Fairly and Effectively?

Do you believe that the person who is failing knows he/she is failing? Of course they do. And, the longer they fail, the further down their self-esteem sinks, the further their confidence shrinks, and, finally,

the person simply quits working!

They still may be employed/contracted with you, but, they aren’t doing the things necessary to move their job forward. So, it’s not fair to simply let them continue failing. Nothing will change. You must step in.

The ‘One Last Chance’ Conversation and System

The principle is this: Never let someone go without a process that proves to them and you that it’s the right thing to do–unless, of course, that person has done something so egregious that she must be terminated immediately.

I’m a huge believer in game plans and systems for situations. That means you are fair with everyone. One of the reasons managers don’t want to fire is that they are afraid they will be unfair–or perceived as unfair. The way to take away those fears is to implement a system to give each person one last chance (this is after you have tried your normal coaching and training methods).

Important: Everyone in your office must know there’s a system, and that each person will be treated fairly within that system.

What’s in the One Last Chance’ Conversation

Here are the steps to terminate someone fairly and with grace.

1. Call the meeting. Do not engage in small talk. This is serious; it has no social aspect.
2. State that the person has not met your standards (minimum expectations). You DO have those in place, right?
3. Tell the person you will provide them one last chance.
4. Show them the performance system you will use (something like The On Track System to Success in 30 Days System for the Experienced Agent).
5. Get agreement that the person will use the system.

Make The Time Frame Short

I have been snookered by the best of them! I’ve learned to make the time frame no more than 30 days. You want that person to go right to work. You also must reserve the right to terminate at any time.

Good News: They Will Let Themselves Go 50% of the Time

You will find that many people are just waiting for you to provide that last chance, so they can face the fact they really don’t want to work. They will let themselves go.

When You Terminate

You have given them a fair chance. You have been straightforward. They have not gone to work. All you have to do in your termination conversation is to state just that. 95% of the time you will get no argument. In fact, they will thank you for being honest with them. Using these five pointers will allow you to let them go with grace, and relieve your mind that you are fair in your termination guidelines.

Get On Track with Your Business

This comprehensive resource is like having your own consultant 24/7. In each secction, you have the opportunity to analyze your strengths and challenges and make a specific plan to improve. In addition, there’s a 30-day regeneration plan. See more at The On Track to Success in 30 Days System for the Experienced Agent. This is also a wonderful tool to use to consult agents in or out of the business.

You’ve been coaching an agent for three months. You haven’t seen any improvements. What do you do if your coaching isn’t working?

The biggest mistakes managers make in coaching agents is to continue the coaching relationship when the agent isn’t doing the work. Usually, we continue because we didn’t set coaching standards at the beginning of the relationship. When our coaching doesn’t get results, we think that we must re-motivate the agent—that this is our job.

Who or What Motivates?

Motivation happens when we do an activity and it works for us. Then, we want to do it all over again. That’s right. WE do the activity! In this case, it’s the agent doing the sales activities and having some success. You just encourage that success. You can’t encourage not doing things, which is what you’re doing when you let that agent meet with you and you ‘pump them up’ even though they haven’t done what they were supposed to do! Don’t get caught in that trap. 

Reasons to Terminate the coaching Relationship

Here are the reasons to terminate the coaching relationship:

  1. Not doing the activity work
  2. Not meeting at the scheduled time 
  3. The results are working negatively on your own self-esteem

You’ve done your agent and internal review, and you’ve established the coaching rules. Now, it’s easy to terminate the coaching relationship. You already set up those perimeters prior to starting your coaching relationship. Remember, you have only time to coach those who respond. You also need this response to provide your own self-assurance that what you’re doing is working.

 Free Yourself for Better Experiences

By terminating the coaching relationships that have no pay-offs, you’re freeing yourself to coach those who do want your time and talent—and you’ve pre-determined that these people will be successful. You’ve created the best recruiting tool there is—concrete success from your agents with your personal and professional help.

Choosing and Coaching ‘Responders’ Has Many Benefits

I find time and time again that when I try to work with people who do not want to achieve higher goals, they fail—and I feel as if I’ve failed. So, my caveat to you now is this: Choose the people you will coach carefully, to retain your self-esteem, self-confidence, and contribute your talents to those who will respond. That’s a win-win!

A coachability evaluator: Click here to get an evaluator you can use with agents.

What are your reasons for terminating a coaching relationship? What mistakes have you made in continuing a non-working relationship? 

P. S. I’m working on an online program right now for the new or challenged agent, to get them into great business habits fast. One of the features of this program will be broker coaching. I’ll coach brokers on choosing those who are coachable, and how to coach when you have no time to coach! What do you want to see included?

In real estate, for years we said,

we don’t need to think of ourselves as a team. We’re independent contractors. We work alone.

 That perspective has certainly changed in the last few years, and it’s a continuing trend. Why? Because the challenges are so much greater. The needs for specialists is so much greater. Both managers and agents are learning the benefits a synergystic team. And, for managers, it gives them an opportunity to stop that old ‘top-down’ management style and step into participative management (see the 365 Leadership coaching program for more on this).

Who Has Supported You in your Life?

Think of a time in your life when you accomplished something noteworthy. Were you completely alone? Or was someone with you? If someone was involved in your accomplishment, think of how that person was involved. Did he or she help you get that done? Taught you the skills to do that job? Encouraged you?

That exercise always elicits smiles, warm memories and enthusiasm. And no one with whom I’ve done that exercise has ever said that he or she accomplished something important alone.

Management tip: Try that in your real estate office. See what kind of response you get. Then hold a discussion using the points in this and my next blog.

 No One Succeeds Alone

What about talented people? Can’t they master skills alone? The answer is—no. Since I have been a musician from age four, I thought about my musical experiences—and how much musicians can accomplish alone—or not. I concluded as I thought about my musician friends, that, no one could succeed without outside coaching.

As I grew up, I watched innately talented musicians get “stuck.” They could take themselves only so far without some coaching. (You would call that “playing by ear.”) For example, many found they had to learn to read music to achieve their goals. Why? It’s impossible to learn a Beethoven sonata “by ear”—it’s simply too long. I don’t know anyone who taught him- or herself to read music—alone. And that’s just the basics. We musicians know that we can’t hear ourselves play or sing well enough to correct all our mistakes. We need a coach with a great ear to help us refine our performances. And the need for coaching never ends, as long as we want to maintain levels of performance.

Who Is Supporting You to Master Real Estate Management?

It’s time to acknowledge that none of us can master real estate alone. How did we ever create the folklore that we had to work alone in our endeavors to achieve accomplishments in real estate? I can’t think of a skill that anyone can master where the “practitioner” had no teaching, coaching, mentoring or encouragement.

But by perpetuating this folklore, we have damaged the real estate industry. We did the easy, expedient and inexpensive thing: We told our sales associates that this was an “independent business”—that they were in business for themselves. We trashed our training programs. We forced our sales associates to seek outside coaching and consulting. What we got was a very uneven standard of performance, and we created adversarial relationships among sales associates—and between sales associates and managers. What we allowed were uncommon goals, more competition, less cooperation—and we did it with a bunch of people who already are highly competitive. We threw out leadership—and what we got was anarchy, in some cases.

 Leadership Steps

Start coaching your sales associates again. Help them discover that no one achieves alone. Then start building a team atmosphere. What do I mean by “team”? Not what you might think. Don’t get up in front of your sales associates and say, “We will accomplish more together as a team. So now we’re a team.” That’s ludicrous. And yet, that’s exactly why so many teamwork concepts fail. Teamwork is not an announcement. It’s a process—a process that requires skills that many managers, and sports coaches, have not mastered.

What Exactly is a ‘Team’?

A team is not a rah-rah group of people drawn together in a power play. A team isn’t a social group. A team isn’t a group of people who agree to do things the manager’s way, or whoever is the “boss” such as the dominant sales associate. A team is two or more people working on a common task, focused on mutually agreed to and mutually beneficial results.

You can think of the team acronym, “Together Everyone Accomplishes More.”

Want to get specific strategies, that you can immediately implement, to build your team with confidence, take a look at 365 Leadership. It’s a small-group coaching program ONLY for owners and managers. Each month, you’ll get a new leadership strategy to recruit, coach, train, and motivate your associates. You’ll build new structures to get out of that old ‘top down’ management that agents hate! Take a look at 365 Leadership and see what others think of the first program. Our next program starts in September.

You deserve the kind of coaching and support to take your management career to the next level!

What does that non-productive agent really cost you? I don’t believe most brokers realize they are doing irreparable damage to their companies by hiring those who aren’t going to go right to work—and keeping those who won’t work. Here are the 3 biggest consequences to recruiting I see. What do you think?

Non-Productive agents kill your recruiting three ways.

1. Likes attract. How can brokers hope to hire that great producer when they have more than 10% of their office as non-producers? I can see it now. “Sure, I’ll come to your office. I’m a top producer, and I just love to be dragged down by those non-producers. It will be my pleasure to waste my time with them.” Not.

2. Kills your recruiting message. Do you have a training program? Do you use it to recruit? Here’s the real message: “We have a training program. All our new agents go through it. We don’t get any results from the program, so it really doesn’t work. But, join us.” You can’t possibly show how successful your training program makes your agents because your training program can’t possibly get results—poor people in and no actions and accountability required.

3.  Kills your agents’ desire to provide referrals to you. Your outcomes and hiring practices speak more loudly than you could possible speak. Why would one of your good agents possibly refer someone to you when your good agent doesn’t see those you hired starting right out and making money fast?

This Market Won’t Cure Your Hiring-Retention Problem

In a fast market, ‘accidental sales’ buoyed poor agents and made them look at though they were actually selling enough real estate to be a ‘median’ agent. When the market left, so did the agents’ ‘mirage’ of decent production. Now, brokers, need to hire with purpose (using a stringent, professional interview process). Then, they need to put agents right to work with a proven start-up plan.

What do you think a non-productive agent costs the company? What isn’t in my line items that you’ve observed? Click here for a document I’m sharing with you so you can see what I think the real costs of poor hiring and retention costs a company.

Managers: Are your sales meetings knocking their socks off? If not, help is here! Organize your presentation with the three steps here, and watch your agent count go way up for your sales meetings and training presentations.

Who Is a Presenter?

We’re all presenters: Any time we’re in front of two or two thousand, our goal is to persuade the audience to our point of view. However, most of the time, we just get in front of people and say whatever we think of first. That lack of attention to presentation organization leads to some big presentation mistakes, and costs us ‘sales’. Instead of stumbling through a presentation, why not organize it to grab their attention, persuade them to your way of thinking, and motivate them to action?

Grab Their Attention in the Opening

Have you thought about your opening?  Are you hiding in your office because you dread doing that sales meeting? When we haven’t organized our presentation, we come up with some really boring, off-putting openings, like:

I won’t take much of your time, but

We have a lot to cover today

We won’t get through the outline

I know you don’t want to listen, but

I’m not really prepared

You just open your presentation book, point to the pretty pages, and say, “here’s a keybox”  (I’m not kidding. I’ve seen it….)

Great openings, yes? Yet, we’ve heard them dozens of times. You don’t have to settle for whatever comes ‘naturally’. Instead, make your openings

Provocative

Interesting

Different

Engaging

A Middle that Educates your ‘Audience’ to your Point of View

In the middle of your presentation, add those stories, statistics, and visuals that support your point of view.  By the way, as you create that presentation, jot down your point of view.  What do you want to persuade your agents to do?

Why use Visuals?

There are two reasons to use visuals in your presentation:

We believe what we see

We retain the information much longer

As you organize your presentation, ask yourself:

What are the main, and frequently, unspoken objections my ‘audience’ will have? How do I educate them to show them the reasoning behind my point of view?

The Ending: Back to the Beginning

Have you thought about your wrap-up? Or, like many presenters, does your ending sound like this?

Well, that’s all. What do you think?

We’re out of time. Thank you. I hope you’ll list with me

I don’t have time to close.

I couldn’t get to much of the material, but you can read it

In fact, even the most professional presenters frequently have trouble with their endings. One of the main reasons is that they run out of time. Another is that they haven’t thought the ending through.

How to Do a Stunning Ending

Crafting an effecting ending is the second most important part of your presentation. (The first is the opening). To craft a great ending,

Go back to your beginning opening theme

Summarize the benefits of going ahead with you/take action

Motivate your ‘audience’ to take action

A Great Presentation is Crafted like a Pop Song

As a musician, I know that all pop tunes are constructed with this format:

theme—variation—theme

This is known in the music business as the ABA format. Think of your favorite pop tune: Hum the beginning. Think of the end. They’re alike, right? It’s the middle—known as the ‘bridge’—that is the humdinger. It wanders all around. Your persuasive presentation should be crafted like that pop tune:

A         A compelling start (think Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, etc.)

B         An interesting, developed middle, with stories, statistics

A         Back to that theme, with a motivating ending

Now, you’re all set to craft a great listing or buyer presentation, great recruiting meeting or sales meeting, or awesome product/service presentation to any audience.

P. S. Practice!

Many more tips on presentations and presentation skills are in my new resource, Knock Their Socks Off: Tips to Make your Best Presentation Ever.

Jul
20

Who Adds Value to Your Environment?

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Who adds value to your environment? Hiring and firing is not a ‘black or white’ issue. There are many shades of gray. I know. I managed almost two decades. We become friends with our agents. They rely on us. We rely on them. In some cases, we become almost moms and dads to them. It becomes a very dependent environment. No one wants to disrupt it. However, you are running a business–not a social welfare state.

Use This Analytical Tool to Evaluate Your Agents

Let’s recognize that not all the value, or, to some of us, even half the value of our agents is in their ability to close sales. In other words, your top producer may not be your most desired agent. There are other valued assets they bring to the table, like:

Uphold the culture
Provide mentoring
Create stability in the office
Team player
Longevity and consistency

What are yours? Write them down.  (Use 4-6 values).

Assign a Relative Weight

Now, give each one of these values a possible rating of 0 to 4 (4 being highest). Finally, evaluate each of your agents with each of your important values.  For example, let’s say you are evaluating your top producer. In the production value, that producer would get a “4”. But, let’s say that top producer isn’t much of a team player, and you’ve evaluated her as a “1”. When you’re through evaluating that agent, add all the numbers to get a cumulative number.

Click here to see an example of an evaluative table.

What’s Your Agent’s Real Value to Your Office?

Now, you have evaluated each agent on all the values you feel are important to the success of your company. To see how they stack up, make a list of them, starting with the agent who scored the highest cumulative number. This evaluation process will give you a very different picture of who your best producers are-and who your worst office associates are.

Bottom-Line Questions to Ask Yourself

I know it’s very difficult to terminate people. In fact, one manager asked me to advise him on how to do a  ‘graceful termination.’ Really, behind termination anxiety lurks these questions. They need to be answered for you, as leader, to take the actions that your good agents are expecting from you:

Can an agent be a noteworthy negative to your reaching your goals?
Can an agent actually provide substantial energy against your culture?
What’s Joe’s value to you?
Can this value be quantified in a business sense?
What are you getting personally out of keeping Joe?
What are your next actions?
Why are you avoiding what you need to do?
Don’t you deserve more than Joe is giving you?
How does Joe feel now? Does Joe deserve an environment where he can win?

Make a Plan of Action

It could be to get Joe into production within a certain time period, or help him find a better career fit for himself. It could be to help Joe into that new career right now. I’ll bet Joe is just waiting to see what you will do. After all, you’re the leader….

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