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 Leadership

If you teach: Do you know how you did?

If you rely on people’s comments after the event, good for you. But, what if you knew the good, the bad, and the ugly–so you could keep all the great things and improve on everything else? That’s what a survey can do for you.

At the end of this blog, grab one of my surveys. Click here.

Surveys Should Throw Some of the Accountability to the Student.

I’m a member of National Speakers Association and they are great proponents of surveys. Surveys can do many things for you. Of course, they tell you how you did from the student perspective. But, more than that, a good survey should throw some of the accountability to the student. What was the learning they accomplished? How would they apply it?

We do surveys in our coaching company, both in the middle of the program and at the end of the program. We ask, “What did you learn? What did you apply? Was there any reason why you couldn’t finish the work?” Build some accountability for student learning into your surveys.

You’ll Get Nice Comments for Promoting your Course, Too!

In my speaking survey, I ask attendees if I can use their comments as testimonial. Most of time they very nicely say yes. Testimonials are very, very important to put in your marketing. After all, we believe what others say about us, not what we say about ourselves! Yes, I’m even starting to do video testimonials. (much better than just written ones!)

Here it is: Grab one of my surveys. Click here.

Would you like to be more effective as an instructor?

I can help! Let me assist your association or company. I’ll share innovative training techniques that are easy to apply and instantly energize your audience and help you become more effective–and confident. Contact me and I’ll customize a training to fit your needs:
425-392-6914 or carla@carlacross.com

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.
Aug
26

Your Mutual Expectations Dialogue

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Do you explain your expectations in a friendly, yet firm manner? Or, do you just hope things work out and that your candidate ‘gets’ your values and culture?

I have done 2 short videos on these very important topics. The first video addresses establishing standards (minimum expectations). The first video was in my previous blog. The second video explains how to address these expectations with the agent.

Here’s the second video: Your Mutual Expectations Dialogue

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

Establishing your 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!

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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?

Every company says they have training. But, can you prove it? Does each program you present have a reason to be there? Read how to create a training calendar that reflects your challenges and goals.

No training plan or calendar? Here’s how to put together a great one!

In a couple of months, you’ll be thinking about creating your business plan for the next year (already?!!!!). How do you know what training to provide your agents? One method is to look at your profit and loss. In addition, you need to find out training needs–from your agents’ perspective. Simply provide your agents an internal review of their sales performance mastery (or not) as part of their business planning process.

Click here to see the internal sales performance review, excerpted from my comprehensive online business planning program, Beyond the Basics of Business Planning.

What You’ll Find When They Rate Themselves


Have your agents rate themselves on their performance skills. You will probably see that they rate themselves lower than you would rate them. Why? Because we’re harder on ourselves than we are on others.

Commonalities

What do you think the agents rate themselves lowest in? You are right. Prospecting/lead generation. So, you’ll want to create series with them–a dynamic lead generating plan for next year–and train and coach them to it. See the lead generating plans for seasoned agents in Beyond the Basics of Business Planning,And, for new agents, in Up and Running in Real Estate.

Planning your Training Calendar


Your training plan should be a part of your business plan. Your training plan should tackle the challenges you have noted as a part of your own business review and of the agents’ business review. By the way, be sure those challenges you noted can be handled through training.

Are All Your Challenges Solved by Training? Not!

For example: You’ve noted an ethics problem in your office. You want your agents to “be more ethical”. That is not a training problem. It is a selection problem. You cannot train your way out of the ethics we adopted when we were 5! But, you certainly can solve a listings sold problem with training. Be careful when you are creating your training, and tackle the problems that you can solve with training.

Put That Training on a Calendar

You’ve done your own analysis of your profit and loss statement. You’ve done your analysis with your agents. You’ve made your training plan. Now, you’re going to put it on a training calendar–and use it to guide your agents, your staff–and to recruit. Not only that, you have an integrated training system that you can delegate. Good work.

Recruiting tip: Include your training calendar in your recruiting handout, in your faxes, in your emails, and in your social media. Let prospective agents know you are organized, and you are committed to their success.

An Analysis Handout For You

In my last blog, I discussed creating a training calendar. Click here to get my analysis tool to help you assess the effectiveness of your training calendar.

Comprehensive Online Business Planning Program for Leadership

Do you find it difficult to get your agents to plan? Do you put off doing your office plan? Here’s your solution. This convenient online program does several things for you:

2 webinars teach your agents how to plan using Carla’s strategic planning system

14 planning documents are included to guide your agents right through the planning process

3 webinars for you:

1. How to Create a Great Office Plan

Included: 22 office planning documents to make it easy for you to stay on track and create a great plan

2. How to Convince your Agents to Plan

3. How to Integrate your Office and Agents’ Plans

Check out Beyond the Basics of Business Planning: A planning system exclusively for real estate leadership.

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).

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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!