While you want to do what’s best for your team, sometimes helping can hurt. New Inman contributor Beverly Jacobo offers insights for assisting agents without rewarding bad behavior.
Whether it’s a newbie with poor people skills or a veteran top producer who thinks they’re the only one who matters, power imbalances and a lack of professionalism can occur in even the best brokerages or on the most tight-knit teams. Sometimes toxic behaviors go on too long before they’re addressed, creating a negative environment that drives away valued agents and staff members.
As part of the leadership team, you’ll need to devise a plan to address problem agents, whether they’ve been there for years or just came aboard. You’re not doing anyone any favors by letting bad behavior continue. Here’s how to honestly assess the situation, and create the change you want to see.
1. Recognize your part in creating the problem
Sometimes we find that we’re playing a part in the drama of a workplace conflict, even with the best of intentions.
Maybe you don’t have a strong enough onboarding program for new agents.
Maybe you lack adequate ongoing training and education programs.
Maybe you need to rein in some of your more veteran agents who don’t think the rules apply to them.
Maybe you need more face time with all of your agents every week.
Maybe you need to define your brokerage’s mission better and cast a more compelling vision to get everyone onboard.
Great leadership starts with taking a look in the mirror before trying to change the behavior of others.
2. Be open to changes in your process
It takes time to change the processes that you’ve put in place, along with a willingness to do what’s necessary to get better results. Even if it costs more, even if it’s frustrating, be open to the necessary changes and don’t put them off. Every day that you defer creating positive solutions is another day that your business is operating at less than peak performance.
3. Create an open dialogue with others in your organization
You may need to have some conversations with stakeholders inside and outside of your organization. Problem behaviors may require you to speak with staff members, agents, current or past clients, and other members of your professional network. This should be handled delicately and without gossiping. Get the facts and use this as an opportunity to repair relationships to the best of your ability.
4. Have an honest conversation with your ‘problem’ agents
Once you have the facts in place and you’ve done your part to create a better environment, it’s time to sit down with the agents who aren’t yet getting with the program. Some of these conversations may be difficult and painful. Some may be productive and based on a simple lack of knowledge. In either case, it’s usually a good idea to have someone else in the room so that you have a witness to your interaction, then follow up with a written record of the meeting.
5. Work with them to create a plan of action
Be part of the solution for those agents who need to improve. Work with them to define their areas of concern and help them understand what constitutes acceptable behavior and performance. Connect them with a coach or mentor as needed, or help them find training that can provide the tools to create the level of improvement you’re seeking.
6. Understand what harm has been done and make corrections as needed
Denial will not help you, and it will not help your business’ reputation. Don’t continue to defend an agent whose behavior is unacceptable and don’t overlook their actions because they bring a lot of money in the door. Truly problem behavior can have severe consequences both on the agent and on your brokerage.
In some cases, your conversations may make it clear that it’s time to part ways. Ensure that you’ve kept comprehensive records of your interactions and the interventions you’ve put in place in the past so that you can accurately recall everything that led up to the separation.
7. Continue to reevaluate and make changes as needed
It’s easy to initiate change but can be difficult to keep it going. Check in frequently to make sure that the action plan you’ve put in place is being followed and that any policy changes you’ve made organization-wide are being correctly implemented.
While improvement is often incremental, it’s important to ensure that adequate progress has been made according to the process you’ve outlined. Remember, it’s your role to be helpful, not to enable or excuse unprofessional or problematic behavior. Make sure you’re doing what’s best for everyone, not just one or two individuals.
By Beverly Jacobo
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