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

Throughout November and December, I’m focusing my blogs on business planning, so you have plenty of information to create a great plan. Look for checklists, processes, and systems--ready to use, too.

Agents, managers, and trainers: If you’ve been in the business any length of time, you know how much more challenging this business is than it used to be! Yet, most of the information we are still getting is about day-to-day selling and managing.

However, we’ve learned that we can’t just keep completing tasks and get ahead. We know that, after we’ve conquered sales and management basic skills, we still have a whole group of other skills to master. Those are called ‘business skills’, and they require as much dedication to master as do those sales and managing skills. One business skill is we need is analyzing your business.

Why Business Analysis?

If we don’t know where we’ve been, how can we decide on best strategies for the next year?

Here are the tools you’ll need in your business planning toolkit, whether a manager or an agent:*

  • Time analysis (watch my next blog for a questionnaire to analyze your time management)
  • Business plan activity review
  • Expense/budget review
  • Profit and loss statement review

1. Your time analysis. Do you have the analysis tools to see where your business is, and where you want to take it? With a time analysis tool, you can see what your priorities are. It’s amazing how many agents and managers have no idea where they spend the bulk of their time. Look at your schedule for the last week. Did you spend time in the areas that are most productive for you? If not, why not?

2. Business plan activity review tool. This allows you to capture the history of your business in a way that clarifies your direction. For example, does the tool you use ask you where you got your business last year? Does it ask you the percent of your listings you sold in normal market time? Managers, does your tool ask you the numbers of agents you interviewed, and your conversion rate? Find the tools that ask you the right questions.

3. The expense and budget review. How many agents have a budget? How many managers and owners? All businesspeople set budgets and review them. After all, it’s about profitability in a business, not productivity! At best, you want to use tools that are similar to the ones used by others at the same business level as you, so you can analyze like problems and solutions.

4. The profit and loss statement review. How many agents do you think have a profit and loss statement—and review it? I believe, less than 5%.  Yet, if you don’t know where your money went, you can’t analyze its effectiveness. Use Quicken or Quickbooks to get a handle on your money.

Analyzing your business in these four areas gives you a great ‘handle’ on your business habits, your strengths, your challenges–and the areas you want to change for a more successful year next year.

*Grab All the Tools You’ll Need 

All these analysis tools all in one place–my online business planning program, Beyond the Basics of Business Planning. Take a look here. There’s a program for agents and a program for leadership. The leaderhship program includes the agents’ program, so you can share that with your whole office.

Think back to last year: Did your agents embrace business planning? here are tips to get more of your agents great plans.

Note: Through November and December, I’m going to help you with your 2020 business plans. You’ll find free documents from my business planning system for owners and an invitation to a complimentary webinar. Why not subscribe and be sure not to miss a thing?

Let’s get real. Your agents aren’t motivated to build that business plan–and we aren’t either. We know we’re supposed to write business plans. Yet, if your agents are like 95% of real estate professionals, doing that seems just like an exercise in futility. Most business plans don’t inspire.

Leaving out the ‘Magic’?

I’ll give you specific guidance for you to put that magic into business plans, so you and your agents are inspired every day to not only to complete the plan, but to use it as a very personalized and specific guide to your success.

Why Are Most Business Plans Useless?

Unfortunately, when most people write business plans, all they do is fill in some blanks with “guess” numbers. The problem here is that numbers in blanks aren’t inspiring. They aren’t motivating. They don’t call out and suggest to you that you should look at those numbers once in awhile!

What Really Motivates Us?

If numbers inspired us, we’d all be gazillionaires selling real estate. After all, we say we want to sell more homes than the average agent. We want to make more money than the average agent. You know the drill, and we’ve heard it from hundreds of agents hundreds of times. Yet, if numbers and money were motivators, our results would be different than they are. The fact is that money, in itself, is not a motivator.

It’s what we want to do with the money.

And that’s as individual as we are. Martin Luther King didn’t say, “I have a business plan.” He said, “II have a dream.” You must include the dream part–the emotional driver–of your future in your business plans to make that plan useful to you. That means, you as a business consultant, need to include the three ‘missing’ parts of business plans that I describe below.

Building the Why Into your Business Plans

That’s the motivator. In other words, we have to have a big why. Most business plans don’t build in the why. So, they fall flat, and leave us cold. That’s why agents don’t want to go through the exercise of creating them. Managers always commiserate that they can’t get their agents to write business plans. You wouldn’t want to write a plan, either, if you know it wouldn’t help you with your business the next year.

The Tools to Find that Why

Most people think of business plans as projections of numbers. But, that’s not all there is to a real strategic plan. There are three parts of a business plan that provide that inspiration, that motivation. Those are the parts of the planning process that are most frequently left out:

  1. Your vision--why you’re in this business; how you see yourself after you retire
  2. Your review–what happened in your business that will make an impact on your business in the future
  3. Your mission–who are you in the business

In the next few blogs, I’ll show you how to create these parts of your business plan and get your agents to plan, so you give yourself the inspiration and motivation you need to create and implement your plan.

Ready to create your plan? Take a look at my online business planning program, with all the guidance and forms you need: Beyond The Basics of Business Planning. You’ll get entry as a leader and entry to the program for your agents, too.

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.