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5 Steps To A Performance Culture

In the shifting market, only teams who adopt a culture of performance and excellence are thriving.

Brian Charlesworth

Brian Charlesworth

Chairman & CEO

Brian is a highly accomplished entrepreneur, business builder, and thought leader in the real estate industry. With a track record of success in software, telecommunications, and franchise businesses, Brian has a talent for identifying and realizing business opportunities. Driven by his passion for technology, Brian is dedicated to using his skills and experience to bring about positive change and improve people's lives through the advancement of technology.

 

As you grow your real estate team, you'll inevitably find yourself at a crossroads. 

It's never a smooth journey. And at some point, you're going to ask yourself the question that every team leader out there has or will ask themselves: 

Is this really worth it? I would be making more money on my own, doing all the transactions myself, with a small, lean, admin team and wouldn't need to babysit agents any longer. 

And it's a question that every team leader should ask themself. 

Because there are just too many teams out there who are not profitable. Who, if they really understood their numbers, would be asking that question a whole lot more frequently. 

How did we get to this point?

I think about this all the time. There are so many unprofitable teams in this industry. Too many super talented team leaders who aren't pulling in the $ numbers they should, but feel like they are doing well because their financials are obscured with their own personal production. 

Some of the unique challenges that I see out there: 

  • Agents aren't W2 employees, they're contractors. Many team leaders let this totally block them from leading people and holding them accountable, when it's really nothing other than a tax designation.
  • There's a lot of recruiting competition out there, and many fear that holding an agent accountable will cause them to leave the team. 
  • Split models that don't set the company up to have any reasonable chance of being profitable.
  • The crazy covid/post-covid boom with insane interest rates created a lot of agents who just aren't willing to do the work anymore. 

Despite that, we see teams crushing numbers every year, in down markets, even with all these factors working against them. 

The rise of the Performance Culture

We're always crunching the numbers from 1000s of teams in the industry. We look for trends, for people who are exceptional, and then we dig deeper on both the quantitative metrics as well as the qualitative things. The unmeasurable. 

And while I spend so much time focused on the measurable, I'm equally interesting in the unmeasurable. 

Because the numbers are just a reflection of those unmeasurable things. 

And what I find, over and over, is that there's a certain Culture of Performance and Excellence that we see over and over with profitable teams. Top teams just get this. There are so many that don't.

Here are five steps you can follow today to creating your own Culture of Performance and Excellence.

#1: Rise to the level of your standards

Standards are not what you hope your team accomplishes. 

Standards are the lowest level you are willing to tolerate. 

You need to decide what that is, and you need to be realistic about it. This is challenging for a lot of high-performing team leaders because their standard for themself is likely so much higher than what they would actually tolerate from those on their team. 

You need to decide an acceptable level of performance and be committed to not tolerating performance below that level. 

It likely won't be a number that gets you excited. It's just the lowest you'll tolerate before the business relationship becomes unprofitable. 

#2: Back your standards with consequences

Standards without consequences are called suggestions, and businesses do not thrive on suggestions. 

You need to answer "if standard X is not met, Y consequence will be enforced".

Enforcing those consequences is actually the greatest service you can do for your team. It's the hard truth that struggling agents need to hear. Your A players will thank you for upholding the standard.

Because A players want to be surrounded by A players.  

#3: Communicate your standards and consequences so that they cannot be misunderstood.

There needs to be zero doubt about what the standard is, how it is measured, and what happens when standard is not met. 

I like an agreement that's signed when an agent joins your team and includes all the details. 

Here's an example of a great standard/measurement/consequence statement:

Our standard is that each team agent will meet with 4 buyers or sellers each month. This is defined as a first time buyer consultation or listing presentation, where you talk to a buyer or seller about a new journey to buy/sell their home. These meetings can be in person or on video conferencing. You can click on this exact report to see where you are at for the month. If it's not in our systems, it will be treated as if it did not happen. It's your responsibility to watch the report and ensure you are hitting standard. On the 5th of each month, our admin team reviews the report and will put anyone who is not meeting the standard on notice. If you do not meet the standard in the second month, you'll be asked to transition to a brokerage agent where you can still be in the brokerage, with a lower level of support, or join a different team. This standard ensures that we maintain a culture of performance where those who thrive are surrounded by others who are thriving. 

I've seen this standard work exceptionally well. Is four meetings a month great? Not really. But that's the point. You should be able to hit standard on pure effort. If someone isn't meeting with two new clients/month, that's purely an effort issue. Time for them to move on. 

#4: Set secondary/advanced standards

A secondary standard still fits all the criteria above. It's realistic, weighted with consequence, and communicated beyond doubt.

The difference is that a secondary standard is something that earns you a perk, but won't lose your spot on the team. It's how you push your team to greater achievement. 

The perfect thing to set secondary standards around is lead flow. Sounds like this: 

Leads are the most valuable resource in this business, with millions of dollars in infrastructure spent to make sure we are a lead generating machine. As a team member, you'll have access to these leads as long as you meet certain standards of follow up and performance. The standard for staying on lead flow is no less than 400 conversations per month measured in this report here.  If it's not in our systems, it will be treated as if it did not happen. It's your responsibility to watch the report and ensure you are hitting standard. On Monday of each new week, our admin team will review the report and adjust lead flow based on who is meeting standards. 

You could really go deep with the secondary standards, and I've seen teams who want to see things like speed to lead under five minutes, pickup rates, and more. 

My experience is that simpler is better. 400 conversations is easy to understand and gives me a reasonable level of confidence that an agent is picking up the phone and prospecting. We can work on the rest in 1:1 and training. But I can't tolerate giving leads to someone who is afraid to pick up the phone. 

Your primary standards make sure you have the right people on your team. 

Secondary standards use incentives to push those right people to the limit of their abilities. 

#5: Unlock permission to lead

Owning a team doesn't make you a leader.

5 levels of leadership is a great book from John Maxwell, and he defines the 5 levels of leadership as: 

  1. Position - Am I in a position to lead?
  2. Permission - Having the position isn't enough. I can't lead someone who does not accept me as a leader
  3. Production - I get people What They Want
  4. People development - I create new leaders who replicate what I am doing
  5. Pinnacle - My reputation precedes me

People won't care until they know how much you care. This has a lot to do with who you are. That can't be taught.

There are also some small tactical things you can do to unlock permission to lead—our top teams start this right at the beginning of their recruiting process, but you can do it today with an existing team. 

  • First, you ask someone what they want to do this year. How much did you make last year, and how much do you want to make this year? Are there any changes you'd like to make to your process and how you make this money? 
  • Second, you ask why this matters to them. What does it do for them in their life if they reach their goal? 
  • Third, you clarify your intentions. You built this team to help agents like them achieve everything they want and more. It's something you take seriously. It's part of what drives you. 
  • Fourth, you ask for permission. You ask "So do you kind of want to hit this goal, or do you really want to hit this goal?". They'll tell you they really want to hit it. And you come back with "Cool. So do I have permission to be a little tough on you and call out things when I see red flags that are going to make your journey more difficult?"

Your guidance and accountability, even when they are hard truths, will be the greatest service you offer your agents. 

Why it's worth doing anyways

Coming back to the question. 

Is this really worth it? I would be making more money on my own, doing all the transactions myself, with a small, lean, admin team and wouldn't need to babysit agents any longer. 

It's one you have to answer for yourself. But as an entrepreneur myself, having started a double-digit number of companies, the answer is easy. It's worth it, if you're cut out for it. 

Your own production can only take you so far. There are more limits to your professional growth as an individual agent. As someone who values growth tremendously, this reason alone makes it all worth it. 

You'll go further than you ever imagined with the right people and the right culture. These five steps will help you get there to a culture based on performance and excellence. 

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