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 Coaching

teacher at boardTrainers: Are you after better performance–or just giving them more knowledge?

Are you standing in front of your students to create better performance, or more knowledge?

I learned this the hard way. After graduating with a degree in piano performance, I applied to and had been awarded a scholarship to UCLA as a graduate assistant in the music department. But, after I was at UCLA a few weeks, I became disillusioned, for I found out that the UCLA music department was all about ‘knowledge’, not performance. Professors earned tenure by publishing papers about sixteenth century Elizabethan madrigals–but they didn’t have to be able to play the madrigals…My interest and experience in music had been performance.

Are You After Better Performance or More Knowledge?

I’ve never forgotten that lesson about the difference in the knowledge about something–and the performance of it. Which is more important in what you are teaching? What do you want your students to be able to do as a result of your presentation/training? Sure, just like musical performance, you must have some technique to perform. But, also like musical performance, lots of knowledge doesn’t make you a good performer.

If You Want Better Performance…

Here are five areas to look at to assure you’re creating performers, not just know-it alls.

1. What percent of your program is instructor focused? That is, the instructor performs. If it’s more than 50%, you have a knowledge-heavy program. Model your program like the piano teacher teaches piano. He talks very little, demonstrates some, and listens to the student play and gives positive reinforcement and re-direction.

The teacher knows he taught because the student can play.

2. Do you choose your instructors based on their knowledge and their ability to deliver the message attractively? Start choosing your instructors, instead, on their ability to facilitate performance. They should be able to demonstrate a role play, set up a role play, and draw conclusions. Like great piano teachers create increasingly difficult programs for their students, your instructors should be able to craft ever-increasing difficult rule plays.

Think of them as creators of ‘virtual reality’.

3. Who is held accountable for the program–the instructors or the students? In most programs, we ‘relieve’ the instructor if he doesn’t get good reviews from the students. The instructor’s the only one accountable. Turn it around. 75% of the accountability should be on the students to demonstrate they have learned the skill. Why? Because, without student accountability, managers get your ‘graduates’ who can’t perform.

4. Is your focus on curriculum? Are you attempting to create value for the program to management or owners by providing more information than the other school? Most training programs could cut 50% of their curriculum and graduate better performers. Instead of focusing on curriculum, create your program as ‘virtual reality’. Have a system that provides a series of “performance building blocks”. Don’t tell them all about playing a concerto. Just tell them enough to let them ‘get their fingers on the keys’.

5. Are the objectives of your program knowledge-based? How do the students graduate from your program? Do they pass a written exam? Managers want a graduate who can perform the activities of a real estate salesperson to reasonably high performance standards. A good training program should identify, teach, observe, and coach performance in several critical performance areas until the student can perform well enough to graduate.

The Right Performance Test

As a piano performance major, each term, I had to play a ‘mini-recital’ in the music auditorium for an audience of four–all piano professors. I couldn’t just talk about music theory, or answer a multiple choice exam. I had to play. And, to pass the ‘course’, I had to play to certain set performance standards. The more your training program resembles the ‘virtual reality’ of your specific performance, the more valuable your program to the people who hired your students –and you.

Raise Your Trainers’ Level of Performance

Carla is helping trainers everywhere become even better at what they do. Why not invite her to work with your association or company? Here are some of the areas Carla addresses:

  • How to put more participation into your courses (so you quit boring them to tears)
  • How to give students a much different experience, by using creative, effective training methods
  • How to arrange your course so it has a natural ‘flow’ and students are really competent by the end of the course
  • Invest in your faculty. They will go out and recruit more great faculty members and your training program with grow with purpose!

Contact Carla at carla@carlacross.com or 425-392-6914. She’ll find out your needs and customize a program just for you.

Finding your next great manager requires you to think through exactly what you want. See my qualifications below.

In my earlier post, we discussed finding that next great manager. Now, here’s more information you need to get that great leader–that person you’ll enjoy working with!

You are Not Done Describing the Job

You need to attach your performance standards for management activities (minimum expectations for that person to retain his/her job) in each of these areas.

For example:

How many hours a week do you expect your manager to recruit? (lead generate)

How many lead generating calls do you expect your manager to make per week?

How many interviews do you expect your manager to hold per week?

How many hours a week do you expect your manager to interview and select?

What are the selection standards you expect from your manager (who should be hired and who should not)?

How many hours a week do you expect your manager to train?

How many hours a week do you expect your manager to coach?

Who do you expect your manager to coach?

What leadership activities do you expect of your manager?

What staff/operation activities to you expect?

What do you expect your manager to do to increase the bottom line?

Decide this in terms of:

How many recruits per month (decide on your ratio of new or experienced)

Production per month

Moving your experienced agents from ____ revenue units (sales and listings sold) to ________ revenue units by _____________ (date)

Profitability increase of __________ in _____________ months

Standards Agreement Usually Missed in the Hiring Process

This specific standards agreement is usually missing in the hiring process. It takes awhile during our coaching sessions to develop a workable standards agreement for each situation. But, without a standards agreement, you haven’t laid out exactly what the job expectations are. You have no method to coach and hold your new manager accountable. And, if you need to terminate, you should have measureable reasons to terminate.

Now, armed with your description of the ideal manager, your job description, and your standards agreement, you are ready to search for that people developing manager who will take your company to greater productivity.

Carla is standing by to coach you to choosing your next great leader. Her background as a regional director where she screened dozens of leadership candidates has given her a unique perspective on the process. Why not see if Leadership Mastery Coaching is a ‘fit’ for you? Click here for a complimentary consultation.

It’s probably the toughest thing we do–hire a manager. And, there’s little information to help us. That’s why I wrote this series of blogs. 

Past Experience is a Huge Benefit

Look for a person who has been trained in another business as a trainer/coach/leader. This is really important. When I was finding and screening leadership for one of the largest franchises in the world, I found that the really magic ingredient was that the potential leader had already had some experience in the skills of management. (sometimes not in real estate).

The Second Pre-requisite to a Successful Management Hire

Now, go back and prioritize those duties–with the most important ones first. Here is what I hope your list says–in this order:

Recruit

Select

Train

Coach

Lead: Challenge and inspire seasoned agents to the next career level (retention)

Manage staff

Time Frames for Important Activities

Did you add time frames to that job description? If not, go back and do it now. You don’t want a manager that pushes recruiting to the last hour in the day and then doesn’t get to it!

To get my manager’s detailed job description with hours expected, plus a time analysis you can use for all your managers, click here.

Doing all the other Stuff…..

Where does the rest of the go? I know. You have on your list: Broker questions; crisis management; floor schedules; write ads.

Guess what? You can get just about anybody to do those jobs. In fact, instead of hiring a real sales manager, if all you need is operations, hire an administrative assistant who can and will do it all (except for the broker questions, which you can field, or hire one of your good agents to field).

The All-too Common Problem: Hiring an Operations Manager

I find too many owners or general managers who needs to hire and manage a manager are settling for an a operations manager when what they desperately need is a people developing manager.

What does a people developing manager do?

Finds the right people and develops them into productive salespeople who return a profit to you

You don’t need a babysitter. You don’t need just an answer man (or woman). You don’t need merely an operations person. You shouldn’t settle for just a a crisis manager. You need someone who will focus on and drive

recruiting and productivity--to lead that office into greater profitability, not just take up space in the manager’s office!

Get my manager’s detailed job description, plus a time analysis you can use for all your managers: click here.

What didn’t I say in these blogs that you believe is important in hiring a great manager? Let me know. Watch for the next blogs for more in hiring that next great manager.

Experience is the best teacher! As regional director for now the largest real estate company in the world, I screened dozens of would-be leadership. I learned a great screen process and how to find the kind of leaders needed for real estate offices. Why not let me help you? Get a complimentary consultation to see if working with me is a ‘fit’ for you. Check out Leadership Mastery Coaching.
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Do your agents know what’s expected of them? Or, is ANYTHING expected of them? What are your standards of practice?

Unfortunately, unlike most businesses that are clear in their performance expectations, we either skip this conversation entirely or gloss over it.

I have done 2 short videos on these very important topics. The first video addresses establishing standards (minimum expectations). The second video explains how to address these expectations with the agent. I’m including the first video today. In my next blog, I’ll show you the second video.

Click here to go to the first video.

Take a look at the first video here: Establishing Standards and Mutual Expectations

Here are the documents I mentioned to help you think through and put your standards in place:

Establishing Your Hiring/Retention Standards for your Agents

Up and Running in 30 Days Goals and Standards

Up and Running in Real Estate Commitment Letter

Use the information here, along with the standards documents, to raise the performance of your team to a much higher level!

Let me know how you’re doing with this! Remember, be careful about establishing your standards and how you implement them!

Do you tell everyone that your agents are a ‘team’. Really? Read what it means to be a ‘team’, and some of the steps to take to get there–and the benefits.

‘Team’–or, “You’re on your Own”

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 of a synergystic team. And, for managers, it gives them an opportunity to stop that old ‘top-down’ management style and step into participative management

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. Wow–you were a part of a ‘team’!

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 they master skills alone? The answer is no. (I said ‘master’, not slop through……). 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 to a high level without outside coaching.

As I grew up, I watched innately talented musicians get stuck. Why? 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 is impossible to learn a Beethoven sonata by ear–accurately! It is simply too long. I don’t know anyone who taught him- or herself to read music alone. And that just the basics.

We musicians know that we can’t hear ourselves play or sing well enough to correct all our mistakes. We tend to get into bad habits, and keep repeating them. 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 is 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 practititioner had no teaching, coaching, mentoring or encouragement.

We Damaged the Real Estate Industry….

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 an ndependent business–that they were in business for themselves. (We are, to great extent, but that doesn’t assume we hve the SKILLS to run those businesses!) 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 a 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 are a team. That’s ludicrous. And yet, that’s exactly why so many teamwork concepts fail. Teamwork is not an announcement. It is 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 a 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.”

What do you think? What’s your experience in a ‘go it alone’ atmosphere, versus a team atmosphere?

Jul
18

Why You NEED a Training Calendar

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Why do you need a training calendar? Do you have one now? You need one for several reasons.

First, the majority of real estate offices do not have training calendars. Instead, they schedule things as they come up–with little rhyme nor as to why those events are put on the calendar. Don’t let that be you!

Here’s what creating a training calendar will do for you:

1. Organize your training as part of your business plan for next year

2. Have a time-saving guide to implement the training you need for your company to move forward

3. Use the training calendar to recruit (internal AND external)

In October (Oct. 3-4 in Bellevue, Wa.) , I’m doing my live version of Instructor Development Workshop. As a bonus, I’m going to share my training calendar analysis tool. (And you can grab it at the end of this blog, too).

small write outline

In fact, I doubt most managers make training a part of their business plan! Yet, training is the second-most important component to move our productivity and profitability up (recruiting the right people is #1).

Problems with Most Training Calendars

Before you read this paragraph, if you don’t have a training calendar, grab a calendar and write down the training events you intend to do next year. Now, let’s take a look at the 3 biggest problems with training calendars:

1. They don’t focus on the training events that can change the profitability and productivity of the office (too many ‘technical’ courses, and not enough sales courses)

2. They don’t focus on training events to meet the needs of each of your career life cycles (new, growth, and maturity)--they are skewed to one group of agents–usually new)

3. They don’t consist of measurable training, so you know what works

Take a look now at my analysis too, Your Training Calendar.

Question for You

What did you learn from your analysis?

trainer

Check out my training resources here.

Is your onboarding process creating loyalty or ‘buyer’s remorse’?

What do your agents think about your onboarding process?

In my earlier blogs, we’ve explored the importance of onboarding, and some of the common mistakes we all make. I am in the midst of a consulting assignment with a real estate company. They asked me to evaluate their onboarding process and make recommendations. To do that, I created and did an onboarding questionnaire. In this blog, I’m using ‘we’ do protray the company leadership and me.

I promised I’d share my onboarding questionnaire, so here it is.

Have you ever found out what your agents think about your process? Now is an excellent time to do this. Use my questionnaire and add your own questions. I asked these questions over the phone. At first, agents were reticent to share. Then, as I explained we were working to tighten the process, they opened up, and gave us great information. The bottom line: They were thrilled we had asked them! It made them feel an important part of the organization.

When you ask: Don’t judge, and don’t criticize. Just accept the information or probe for more detail.

My Results of My Survey

I’m going to share the results of my survey here with you. Some of the results were surprising; some were predictable.

What We Did With the Results of the Survey

We held a series of meetings to discuss the results. We then assigned duties to make this whole process better. We hired a person whose main job is to ‘dog those agents’ tracks through the complete onboarding process. Do you think this will result in a better retention record? We do.

Your turn: What are you doing to assure your onboarding process continues the excitement and loyalty you set up during your interview process? Or, have you thought about it?

Want to talk about my helping you create a world-class onboarding process? Email me at carla@carlacross.com or call me at 425-392-6914. Let’s get this to mastery level!

Here are four ways to avoid boring them to tears in a training session.

I just sat in on a training session for new real estate agents, and I had trouble sitting there. Why? Because the presenter was using almost all lecture.  Yes, the agents were listening intently. Yes, they seemed eager to learn. But, that lecture was not helping them learn. They needed to get involved!

Not only that, the students were new real estate agents, scared of a new career in which everything was up to them! They needed exercises to get confidence, to create ‘buddies’, and to meld as a team.

So, instead of lecturing, try breaking up your presenter-directed lecture with these techniques:

  1. Do a warm-up to loosen up everyone, teamify, have fun, and show that it’s going to be an exciting, fun-filled, course (more about how to do a warm-up in another blog).
  2. Instead of asking a question and letting people raise their hands to answer, turn it over to the group, and work in small groups to come up with answers. Then, name a reporter and compare answers (this is the task force, which I’ll also blog about later). This makes it much more interesting to the people, they get to know each other, and they gain confidence that then can come up with good answers.
  3. Pair up people to have them compare opinions, thoughts, and answers. You’ll be starting the buddy system now.
  4. Use accountability: Do you have it built in? You’ll want to build in assignments to complete so the students are learning in the field. That way, they’ll pay much more attention to you and learn a lot more.

Your turn:

How can you use these methods to wake up your students, get them involved, and get them learning at a much higher level?

 

Here’s a great way to teach: the case study. It’s a technique almost every trainer/presenter can use to break up that monotomous and less than effective teaching method too many of us rely on–the lecture.

This month, I’m focusing on training and trainers. Why? Because you actually have the ability to change lives!

In my last blog, I provided a video on the case study.

What’s a case study?

A small group exercise that has people working on a ‘story problem’. This ‘story problem’ can be quite intricate and long. It should have elements that you’ve taught earlier. Usually, case studies are given toward the end of the course to put judgment to work and check learning. It has the ‘story problem’. Then, it asks students to make decisions about the ‘story’ based on what they’ve learned in your course.

Click here for an example of a case study I use when I teach Instructor Development Workshop.

Why Use a Case Study?

. It also tells you if you need to spend some time in certain areas.

Get More Great Reviews, Too!

The bonus for your using the case study? You’ll get more students really enjoying the course, learning better, and giving you great reviews!

Gain My Perspective on Teaching AND New Skills!

Want more teaching skills? Join me for one of my instructor workshops. They have 15 clock hours and fulfill the qualifications to become an instructor in Washington state for clock hour courses. The next one ‘live’ is coming up Oct. 3-4 in Bellevue. See more here.

Or, if you want to get certified to teach clock hour courses and learn great new teaching skills ‘on your own time’, check out my distance learning version of the course, Train the Trainer.

Have you already taken instructor courses? If so, you’ll love my advanced course, Beyond the Basics: Training Techniques to Make that Course Come Alive. We use your course and put exciting, innovative teaching methods into it so you gain confidence AND the skills to energize your courses. I’m teaching this course ‘live’ Oct. 23-24 in Bellevue (7.5 clock hours, too).


Does your course ‘fit’ the adult learner?

May is my designated Trainer Appreciation Month. So, I’m writing a blog series to help trainers teach and write great courses. And, I’m offering special discounts on my resources for trainers. See them here.

Most real estate courses are not written with adult learning principles in mind. So, let’s look at these truisms and write our courses to reach the adult learner effectively. This is one of the areas we address in my resource on how to write a course (click here to see it).

From writing courses for most of the major real estate franchises, and training thousands of real estate instructors, I’ve found some undeniable truisms. Here’s one:

Why Write a Course for the Adult Learner?

Benefits to teaching to these principles in your course:

  • Adults aren’t bored (!)
  • Adults feel important
  • Adults pay attention
  • Adults retain more
  • Adults feel protected; low risk environment
  • Adults like you better
  • Easier for you to teach!

The Big Principles to Keep in Mind

Adults learn through association.

We learn what we already know. Two fellows teaching community colleges instructors how to teach shared that one with me. How insightful!

How do skilled presenters accomplish this in a course environment?

Do you relate what you’re teaching to the adult’s prior experience? Or, do you jump right into a complex theory and expect your students to keep up…..

Adults learn by doing

Life is do it yourself. Do you have your students doing an action in class? What happens in your course to assure the students are doing? How do you know they can do whatever it is you are teaching them to do? Observe it in class, of course!

Retention soars when adults do and say something at the same time. How are you using this principle in your course?

How much doing of significance do you have planned in your class?

Big principle: How we retain information is directly related to how we acquire that information.

Would you say that instructors are most concerned with short-term, or long-term student learning?

Adults learn from each other

Use teaching methods to encourage information exchange.

How do you assure students are exchanging information? Are you using various alternative delivery methods (not lecture) to assure students are learning not only from you, but from one another?

Adults learn through repetition

Use several approaches to the same concept/process. Does your course offer review and repetition to assure students are really learning?

Adults learn through rapid recall

What rapid recall methods have you seen used in the classroom? Do you do this so you ‘tie up’ each section before you move on?

Adults seek to satisfy individual needs

Experience levels vary greatly. How would an instructor find out each student’s individual experience levels prior to getting into the classroom?When I’m teaching Instructor Development Workshop, I provide each attendee a ‘pre-conference survey’ at registration, so I can see the needs and level of learning of that person. Even the words used give me some powerful hints about each attendee’s priorities and beliefs!

Adults learn practical information.

They want information and skills to directly apply to their lives–right away.

How have you seen instructors assure that the information is not only applicable, but that the student applies the information to their challenges, while in the classroom? Are you assuring that each of your attendee translates the course information/skills into action plans?

Go back to the course your teaching or writing and see if you are adequately addressing how adults learn. Doing so is one of the attributes of a real course, not just an ‘information overload!

Expert Guidance to Write that Great Course–at a $30 discount this Month!

If you’re serious about writing that great course, this is the resource for you. Step by step, Carla Cross, who has written courses for Re/Max, Better Homes and Gardens, Keller Williams Realty, GMAC, Royal LePage, and CRB, shows you exactly how to create your course and your outline. And, for those Washington state instructors, she shares tips on how to get your course approved for clock hours.

This resource is digital. You will get access immediately.

May Trainer Appreciation Month bonus: Keys to a Killer Introduction

This ‘how to write a course’ includes:

2 instructional videos
Templates to use as guides for course creation
Examples of courses
2 ‘cheat sheets’ to write your course modules

Tips on how to write teaching methods right into that course, so you can sell it!

Guidance in how to get your course approved in Washington state.

With 95 pages, this resource, along with the 2 instructional videos, shows you exactly how to create a course that has substance, sizzle, and ‘sell’!

May Trainer Appreciation Month price: $99.95 with coupon create course. (Regularly $129.95. Save $30)

Click here for more information and to order. You’ll get immediate access to the 95-page resource guide and 2 instructional videos. Remember, to get your discount use the coupon code create course.