Is It Time For You To Build A Team? 5 Tips To Do It Right

Originally written for and featured on

Have you ever felt that you could not afford an assistant but now realize you cannot afford to not have an assistant?  

Like fellow real estate agent Melissa Miller, you may have come to the realization that an assistant is needed in order for your real estate sales to grow and to keep your sanity lol.  Melissa mentioned how being responsible for someone's salary can be an overwhelming thought, which can paralyze a business owner from seeking the help needed, but she made the leap and is glad she did. 

Do you feel the same? Many times we are afraid of the unknown or of failure, which can ultimately stem from not having the resources to understand how to setup a team.  

Therefore, let's cover the basics (which we have adapted from the Harvard Business Review's Guide to Leading Teams by Mary Shapiro) so you can ditch the fear and grow your business even more!  

1. Get in front of your business' growth.

Start by reviewing how many transactions you complete in a year.  Scott Panella, who has successful built the Panella Team of KY, recommends that once you hit 30-35 transactions a year (no matter the price point), you should start forming a team.  Let's take this one step further - once your cross the threshold of 20 transactions per year, start preliminary planning to form a team that way once you hit 30 transactions in a year, you are already prepared with your team infrastructure and you may even have your first candidate to hire in mind.  Far too often, we real estate agents pass these points and only start to plan for a team once we are overwhelmed and stressed out, making it hard to plan appropriately, interview candidates AND continue to keep our existing business afloat.

2. Join forces with those whose strengths are your weaknesses or non-specialties.

We all want to be SuperAgent but let's be honest with ourselves - there are just some things that we are better off not doing in our realty business, whether from a time, efficiency or expertise standpoint.  Look for team members where there will not be an overlap of the same skills or personalities in order to prevent duplication, which leads to waste (whether in time or money). Find people that have different perspectives than you and your other team members if you are already running a team. Don't pay multiple people for a task that can and should be done by 1 person!

But you also do not want to tax one person with ten roles. Realtor Teresa Cowart, who was recently featured in the home edition of Savannah Magazine, shares that her real estate team includes an admin for almost each agent on her team because she says it allows "us to focus on clients and not the busy work" since "customer service has been the key to our success".

3. Get on the same page and readjust often. 

For some teams, this may mean a daily or weekly team huddle to review goals, values and vision, which can be accomplished in person or by FaceTime, Google Hangout, etc. For others this may mean frequent individual conversations and emails that promote and reinforce the team's roles and values. Whatever path you choose based on the dynamics of your team, be consistent and frequent in understanding, aligning and re-aligning the hearts of each team member to a unified direction. Similar to team sports, real estate work teammates must be willing to put aside their differences and ego for the greater good and purpose that the team was created to accomplish. 

4. Spell out your expectations and have accountability systems in place. 

Sasha Farmer's successful VA real estate team uses Basecamp, a popular project management system, to organize team tasks and monitor should be and what has been completed by each team member. Team morale can easily be killed by feeling that you are the only one pulling your share of the workload. The best way to counteract this is through work accountability. Hold teammates accountable to very specific work and interpersonal/relational goals and allow frequent, structured mate-to-mate constructive feedback to maximize team efficiency.

5. Isolate or eliminate toxic teammates

We have all meet them: toxic individuals that are great workers. It may not be the right time to terminate a team member that actually does a great deal of work but who incessantly clashes with other teammates. If now is not the time for a new hire, try isolating that person through a technology buffer (i.e. working from home/telecommuting, etc.) until you can either help that person develop better interpersonal skills or you can find a replacement.

When we create a diverse team of real estate professionals that have complementary skill sets and valuable yet differing opinions, this can effectively circumvent the conformity problems of groupthink but it can also become a breeding ground for conflict. Therefore, it is vital to have a plan in place to deal with conflict beyond just firing offenders as the leader of a desirable "mixed bag".

If you have any questions about these points, don't hesitate to contact us.  Follow us on Google+ for more great tips.  Here's to your success!
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