3 Easy Methods to Instill a Culture of Accountability in the Real Estate Office
Introduce the concept of key performance indicators into the daily workflow, stop thinking about headcount, focus on performance, and make accountability an intrinsic feature of your business.
No matter what team model you use, what business plan you’re embarking on this year, or what software system is powering your team, they will not help your business if you do not have a culture of accountability instilled in your team.
A culture of accountability helps guide business decisions, it encourages team members to support one another and cheer each other on, and it creates clear paths to growth with explicit expectations and realistic goals.
Accountability can get a negative rap. Some feel like it means “babysitting” your team members, or holding everyone to a standard that doesn’t suit individual work styles and personalities. While this can certainly be true (if done incorrectly), the real focus of accountability is making clear standards and goals that team members adhere to. These are concepts at the core of your business and day-to-day
Set Clearly Defined SMART Goals
The saying “what gets measured, gets managed” outlines the importance of goal-setting in installing accountability in your real estate office. The fastest way to unravel accountability efforts is by not having defined goals that your team members should work towards.
A study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University in California found that those with written goals had a 42% greater chance of accomplishing them than those who didn’t.
SMART refers to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
When you use this methodology for your real estate business, it helps you set a real number to track against and concrete deadlines to hit along the way. A goal of, “generate more listings in my farm area” does not fit the bill, but if you give it the SMART treatment, “generate 20% more listings in my farm area by Q3” you’re giving yourself more tangible objectives to work with.
Make sure you’re building a foundation for communication into all of your systems and processes:
- Have agents create a business plan with goals, objectives and strategies to reach them. Take the time to review the plan, address personal and professional goals and demonstrate how to track them.
- Set up a mentoring program partner up junior team members with a more experienced “mentor” on the team to act as a sounding board and an example of how they can progress in your company.
- Share best-practice strategies in dedicated meetings
- Bring in outside experts from the industry to host workshops and mastermind sessions
Sarah Pickens of the Kris Lindahl Team, RE/MAX Results holds a weekly meeting with the entire team, in conjunction with monthly one-on-one meetings with each agent. Also, the team uses a private Facebook group for personal and business communications. These touch points of communication go a long way and have helped the Kris Lindahl Team retain its culture of accountability, and its agents.
Create A Culture of Accountability
Your team’s perception of accountability will depend on how your present your key performance indicators, and how you help to motivate them.
When REAL Trends releases their team study, “The Real Estate Playbook: Aligning Structures and Strategies with Goals and Growth,” after interviewing some of the top-performing teams in the industry, the biggest benefits they shared to being on the team, and the phrases that were used over and over were words like: synergy, accountability, leverage, knowledge and support.
These words do more than describe one particular element of a team; they allude to the overall culture of teams and the notion that everyone needs to be on the same page, every member needs to be accountable to the unique goals of their role, and to support the team as a whole. That is a culture of accountability.
The Role of the Broker in Accountability
In order to instill a culture of accountability, it’s critical for brokers and leaders to forge a “want to” relationship with agents, becoming less of a manager and more of a coach.
While agents should be held accountable to brokers for their tasks and goals, brokers should be accountable to agents for helping build their pipelines and coaching them toward success. Agents will then come to see accountability as something that increases their performance (and paychecks) and improves their careers.
Bob Sokoler of the Medley Sokoler Team, RE/MAX Properties East in Louisville, KY leads a 20-person team and and he holds himself accountable to providing leads for his team and fueling their pipeline. The goal for Bob’s team is to hit 30 to 50 leads per sales agent per month. This number is what Bob estimates the average agent can reasonably service each month. The minimum goal for the Medley Sokoler Team is roughly 450 leads per month to support the 15 sales agents on the team. The number of leads that Medley Sokoler Team aims to provide each month to its sales agents is triple the average number of leads per agent teams reported to generate each month from the collaborative survey.
Accountability done the right way means better agents and stronger brokerages.
The role of the manager should not be limited to calling out problems and constantly monitoring your team. Brokers should work to create a team culture where agents can address concerns directly and respectfully with each other, as well as challenge and encourage each other.
Pushing team members to reach their goals is also critical to successfully creating a culture of accountability.
Reaching team goals on the Duncan Duo team of RE/MAX Dynamic in Tampa, FL means that Andrew Duncan rewards his entire 40-person team with an all-inclusive trip to destination cities across the United States.The whole team, sales agents and support staff, is motivated to reach the team goals because they all benefit from the reward. Last year, the Duncan Duo team averaged 28 transactions per sales agent and earned an all-inclusive trip to Los Angeles. This type of incentive is a form of actionable accountability that motivates sales agents and support staff alike to reach their full potential.
Friendly competition can go a long way. Even something as simple as writing everyone’s numbers on a whiteboard can motivate team members to work harder. By making goals visible, the expectations are clearly set and holds people accountable to them. Friendly competition can increase personal motivation while improving team communication.
There is a strong connection between peer accountability and team performance, as discussed in research by Harvard Business Review.
Here is what they found:
- In the weakest teams, there is no accountability.
- In mediocre teams, bosses are the source of accountability.
- In high performance teams, peers manage the vast majority of performance problems with one another.
Whether it’s in the form of light-hearted competition, challenging each other to do better, or confronting issues, motivated agents under a culture of accountability contribute to building a higher performing team.
The success or failure of your agents depends entirely on how much accountability they have and deliver. And the only way to truly succeed is to track and measure their goals.
Many top performing teams have effective tracking systems in place to keep agents accountable. This could be something simple, such as keeping track of numbers on a spreadsheet or the aforementioned whiteboard. However, most teams will agree that investing in a good CRM software has made a world of difference in their accountability and success.
CRM software like BoomTown allows you to track important tasks right from the beginning. The Accountability Dashboards allows you to monitor agent activity such as how long it took an agent to get in touch with a lead, when they spoke and how they have communicated.
For Chris Speicher and the Speicher team, this has been a game changer. “I can tell you what each of my agents is doing — how many deals they have going, how many closings they’ve made, and how much money they’ve generated. You have to know these details. Otherwise you have no idea how healthy your business is. I can tell you down to the agent and the dollar, month and year who’s doing what.
An integrated system of success has to be actively worked and built into your business. And it has to cover all facets because as an agency, you’re the CEO, the CFO and the Chief of Marketing all in one. But if the systems are in place and the motivation is there, success can be yours.”
Smart business decisions come from data. It’s easier to pinpoint what is and isn’t working when you’re taking the time to measure the results. By tracking activity and streamlining communication you get the insight you need to keep everyone performing and productive, and make critical decisions based on real data.
It’s no secret that keeping yourself accountable, your agents accountable, and your entire team accountable to business goals as a whole is no small task. But, with these strategies, and the right system, you can build and sustain a culture of accountability, and effectively hold your team accountable to their goals, and you business accountable to greater success.