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A Third ‘Whack’: Father Knows Best Management Style is Out


In this series, I’m sharing some ‘whack up the side of the head’ for managers. Here’s today’s whack: a�?Father knows besta�� is so fifties old-style management.A�

In the fifties, a�?father knows besta�� was the preferred management style. The CEO made the decisions. The agents, the workers, sold real estate. Unfortunately, too, many managers took that top-down management style clear to the doting parent extreme. When you act like the parent, guess what the agents are supposed to act like? The kids. That management style caused a rebellion from agents in the seventies, when they decided they a�?didna��t need a managera�� (a parent) and left the traditional a�?parental stylea�� management real estate offices for offices promising more independence.A�

The Extreme ‘Father’

Many managers have taken that parental management style to the extreme in a challenging market. I call this the a�?loving parenta�� manager. The a�?loving managera�� dialogue sounds like this: a�?If I just love them enough they will come back and go to work. I feel sorry for them. I just need to be there for them because times are so tough.a�?A�

Unexpected results. There are, unfortunately, negative outcomes from this management style:A�

A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A� 1. This style appeals to the non-producer.A� Loving your agents bleeds clear into sympathy, and sympathy encourages victimization. And victimization encourages non-action.A�

A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A� 2. This style treats adults like little kids. When a three year old skins her knee, we kiss the knee to make it better, and put a cute little band-aid on it to comfort that three-year old. Why are we treating our agents like three-year olds?A�A�

A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A� 3. This style drives producers crazy, lowers their production, and they ultimately leave. A recent study from The Ripple Effect, a Washington , D. C. management training and research firm, asked over 70,000 executives, managers and employees in 116 organizations what kind of impact underperformers were having on their workplaces? Eighty-seven percent said working with a slacker actually made them want to change jobs (retention issues, anyone?). Ninety-three percent said it had hampered their development or decreased their productivity.A�

A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A� Poor producers cause producers to produce less.

A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A� Poor producers cause good producers to leave.A�


  1. Respect each agent as a responsible adult. Have an adult conversation with each agent. Ask that agent if he/she intends to work in real estate? Ask for a commitment to a work plan. After all, this is a business, not a love-fest!
  2. Move your a�?love them into businessa�� actions toward a�?business lovea��. Ask yourself: Is it fair that they work in the business to enjoy those commissions they want to earn? Is it fair to expect that they work even half as had as you work? Is it fair to expect that they keep honing their skills, keep getting better? Is it fair for you to expect them to invest in their businesses?

A�The irony of the a�?adult-stylea�� manager, foundationed in standards, is that it actually is the kinder of the management stylesa��by far. Why would we want to keep agents in careers where they were failing? Why would we want to provide sympathy instead of helping them create and implement a plan of action?

Leadership by the Month

Do you want to step into a better leadership style? Be more effective? Recruit more and better? I’ve created a very special, unique program for managers and owners: Once a month I share a specific leadershp strategy to recruit, choose, train, coach, and retain winners. These are proven strategies to get you out of a rut, take you past crisis management, and energize and inspire your team. See more at 365 Leadership. This new series closes for enrollment March 15. Find out more here.



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