When change comes to town, it seems to divide people into two camps: victims and villains. Those who precipitated the change are often the bad guys of the situation. And everyone else seems to be warily looking for their name on the chopping block. Change has the same effect on businesses, which is why mergers and other structural shake-ups can be so damaging to morale and productivity.
But they don’t have to be. While reading Sharon Melnick’s new book, Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure’s On, I came across her seemingly stellar exercise for people who are going through this kind of flux. It’s called “WIN at Change.” While it is intended for the individual, I think that brokers, managers and leaders of all kinds could benefit from it.
The exercise is predicated on Melnick’s theory that if you take responsibility for your 50 percent of any given situation, your stress level will decrease, as you’re holding up your end of the bargain with the understanding that you can’t do it all. I think that’s a key component to this exercise, and I think managers would do well to mention that ideal as an introduction to the exercise. As Melnick says, “It’s tempting to comment negatively on other peoples’ decision or to be fearful of the uncertainty, but the way to stay productive is by managing yourself” (emphasis hers). If nothing else, it should quiet detractors long enough to get through the exercise!
So, here’s what you do. Gather all the stakeholders and hand them two pieces of paper. The first one should be split into thirds, and the second one blank. Here’s your script: Continue reading »
Yeah, yeah; I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But we all do it to some extent; if we didn’t, publishers would save some money and all book covers would look the same.
And I’m going to confess something to you all: Whenever I see diminutive descriptors used in the title of a book, I tend to adopt a dismissive attitude. The “Little Books of __” and pocket guides to this or that seem to promise easy results without the “work” of actually committing to a full book. And authors: Don’t even come to me with 101 anythings.
So, when The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation crossed my desk, I was skeptical. Honestly, the phrase that crossed my mind was “junk food.”
However, while this collection is certainly not analogous to a five-course meal, it’s not a single-serving bag of Cheetos either. I’d venture to say author John Baldoni has taken the many ingredients from his long coaching career and assembled them in sandwich form.
And I swear I’ve just had lunch. Bear with me here. Continue reading »
Here are the current best-selling management and leadership books from Amazon.com:
Here are the current best-selling management and leadership books from Amazon.com:
1. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
2. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton
3. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
4. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (Pmbok Guide) by Project Management Institute
5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) by Patrick Lencioni
6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
7. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
8. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
9. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
10. Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine
Broker to Broker: Management Lessons From America’s Most Successful Real Estate Companies by Robert Freedman (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2006)
Buy this book from Amazon.com.
What can I do to get my brokerage into the news more often? How should I respond to limited-service competitors? Am I providing incentives that keep my sales associates motivated? As a broker, your ability to find the best answers to questions like these will determine the success of your business. Luckily, other brokerages around the country have dealt with similar issues and have found innovative solutions. This book, a collection of articles and columns from REALTOR® Magazine, aims to give you an edge by bringing you real-life examples of how other brokers have responded to obstacles and opportunities. The book’s three main sections — Managing Operations, Managing People, and Managing Risk — include articles and how-to guides for growing business, keeping associates motivated, and staying out of legal trouble. By reading about what other brokerages have done, you’ll spur ideas that will work in your market.
Tips From the Book:
- Boost your visibility in the community. To boost foot traffic into your brokerage office, choose a location in a high-traffic retail strip and make the space look warm and inviting so people will feel welcome to walk in and ask questions. When there is a local event, such as a parade or street fair, make your presence known by placing a booth outside of your office. Ask sales associates to staff the booth in shifts so they can chat with passersby about real estate.
- Add a staging service to set your firm apart. With competition among brokerages so heated, you should always be looking for new services that will set your company apart from the rest. One great example is home staging, which can help the home sell quicker and for a higher price. Sales associates can work with a professional home stager to make aesthetic changes to the home.
- Plan for ‘what ifs’ in your market. Improve your brokerage’s ability to respond quickly to change by developing a plan you would follow in the event of certain scenarios, such as major layoffs by a local employer, a natural disaster, or a major new competitor. Start by listing your company’s areas of strength and vulnerability and then identify probable future events. Finally, plan your response. This strategy will keep unpleasant surprises at bay.
By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine
Five Minutes to a Great Real Estate Sales Meeting: A Desk Reference for Managing Brokers By John D. Mayfield (Thomas South-Western, 2004)
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Any managing broker knows it’s not easy to orchestrate a truly motivating sales meeting. It takes time, creativity, and research to plot out invigorating agendas that keep sales staff from glancing at their watches every few minutes. Luckily, the author of this book has done much of the work for you. In Five Minutes to a Great Real Estate Sales Meeting, you’ll find detailed plans for 52 concise sales meetings—one for each week of the year. Agendas include a theme, objectives, a list of items needed, and activities to get salespeople involved. Designed to fit into your sales team’s busy schedule, each meeting is planned to last just 10 to 15 minutes. Topics cover five main categories: motivational, marketing, prospecting, legal, and professional development. A CD-ROM that’s included with the book has handouts, quizzes, and slideshows to add impact during the sales meetings. The meetings are scripted, but there’s room to personalize each agenda and the materials to fit your personality and audience.
Tips from the Book:
- Motivate practitioners to believe in themselves. Have practitioners take out checkbooks and write a check to themselves for the amount they dream of earning some year. Tell them to carry this check in their wallets and look at it often as a reminder of the need to believe that they can one day, indeed, cash this check.
- Help practitioners avoid burnout. Light a candle in front of the group, and explain that the candle looks large and can burn for hours, but eventually will burn out. Tell the salespeople their real estate careers are in danger of the same problem if they’re not careful. But they can keep their batteries charged by delegating tedious tasks and scheduling time off on a regular basis.
- Demonstrate the need to build clients for life, not just one transaction. Ask salespeople to write names of clients they dealt with six months ago or longer. Next to those names, have them write the number of personal phone calls or mailings made to those clients since the closing. Then have them place clients’ names with zeroes into a trash basket, showing that every time they fail to get back in touch with a client, that client could be lost for good.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Salespeople become managers for a variety of reasons: to seek out a personal challenge, to own their own real estate office, or simply to call the shots. No matter what their motivation, fledgling managers will need to adapt to a variety of new situations. Real Estate Office Management: A Guide to Success (South-Western, 2003; $19.95) by Robert L. Herd, a branch manger with Long Realty Company in Tucson, Ariz., explores what new managers can expect and provides practical advice choosing a company and on recruiting a sales force.
Of course, the real estate industry offers several options for would-be managers. “Chapter One: Conversion From Sales to Management” describes these alternatives. For some practitioners, entering management effectively marks the end of their sales career. The author reminds you that giving up sales doesn’t have to mean giving up incentives; make sure you negotiate a minimum monthly salary, plus an incentive bonuses. You can also move into management without entirely sacrificing your sales career. Broker/owners or managers at newly formed companies, often embrace this option, the book says; these companies might lack a sufficient budget for a manager who doesn’t sell. Instead, the company might hire a salesperson to double as an administrator, rewarding the manager with a higher commission split (and possibly a percentage of net operating profits).
Salespeople who decide to seek a management position at an established company shouldn’t expect to inherit a stable, thriving office, states “Chapter Two: Managing for Another Company.” These plumb assignments are usually reserved for employees who have already proven themselves. Instead, you will probably be assigned to a troubled office or a new branch location. In evaluating potential employers, you should consider such factors as the physical condition of the office and the equipment, the company’s reputation, the office’s location and whether the company will consider relocating it, and the makeup of the present sales and administrative staff.
New managers will also want to consider intangibles such as whether their personal styles will gel with the company’s philosophy and policies. Specifically, you should ask questions regarding how much latitude you will have to hire and fire workers, establish what benchmarks the company will use to evaluate your success and award bonuses, and determine how long you have to make the office profitable.
The book also offers advice for salespeople who want to open their own office. “Chapter Three: Opening Your Own Firm” contains guidelines for evaluating a potential office’s chances of success. First, the book advises, you should thoroughly examine your area’s demographics and study the MLS listings for the previous three years. At a minimum, you should be able to answer the following questions.
- What are the total units of annual sales?
- What is the average company dollar per sale?
- What are your projected monthly operating expenses (plus a reasonable profit)?
- How many units must your office sell every month to achieve these results?
- Is there enough excess business available to feed your business?
- Who are the dominant agencies?
- Who are the dominant salespeople and what are the chances of recruiting them to your office?
- How seasonal is sales activity?
- How much business is lost to out-of-town brokers?
- Can you save money by buying out a local office rather than opening a new one?
- Is the area prospering, static, or declining?
Later chapters give practical advice on basic knowledge that you’ll need in preparing your office. For instance, “Chapter Four: Getting Started” provides advice on everything from what furniture, equipment, and supplies you will need to information on error and omissions insurance. Meanwhile, “Chapter Five: Recruiting” covers the pros and cons of newbies versus experienced hands. Newbie salespeople operate on a lower commission split, which can (temporarily) boost your company’s income. Plus, you can more successful mold beginners to your way of doing things. However, they require more supervision, and their inexperience can cause them to inadvertently land them and you into trouble.
On the other hand, established salespeople bring knowledge and experience to the table. They may have an established client base and generally work more effectively with less supervision. A respected top producer’s reputation might also be a magnet to attract other salespeople to your office. However, established salespeople also carry drawbacks. They may want more money than you’re willing spend and may have developed a bad work ethic.
Making a change from salesperson to manager is a big leap, but it helps if you are prepared. Real Estate Office Management: A Guide to Success prepares you step-by-step through the operational issues that you will face. You already know that you can succeed in real estate sales, but the book will help you figure out whether you can manage it.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
How is your top salesperson like a five-ton killer whale? It might sound like a setup for a cruel punch line, but the answer has serious implications for the way you manage your office, according to Ken Blanchard, Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins, and Jim Ballard, authors of Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships (The Free Press, 2002; $19.95). They argue that embracing the same principles that Sea World trainers employ to keep killer whales motivated and productive can make you a better manager. The book teaches you how to stir up your salespeople or assistants, without acting like a shark.
The book reunites Ken Blanchard (author of The One Minute Manager) with frequent collaborator Ballard. They’re joined as authors by Lacinak and Tompkins, who hold over twenty-five years experience apiece working with killer whales. It traces the journey of fictional manager Wes Kingsley, who discovers a killer management style during a fateful visit to Sea World. Orcas are among the ocean’s most fearsome predators, capable of dining on almost anything that they see. Wes wonders how the trainers convince these leviathans to perform. He finds the answer isn’t only simple, it applies to people as well. It all comes down to establishing trust and building relationships.
Both people and whales perform better when you create a positive work environment, the authors say. This idea forms the backbone of the Whale Done! approach, which concentrates on accentuating the positive, rather than the common “GOTcha” management tactic of trying to catch people in mistakes and then punishing them. For killer whales, a punishment-centered approach carries obvious dangers. (Would you want to get in the water with Shamu, if you knew he was carrying a grudge?) But it’s no less counterproductive in the workplace, breeding fear and resentment.
Instead, the book advocates two primary methods to motivate employees. The first is to employ positive reinforcement—using the carrot (or the fish) rather than the stick—to drive workers. Don’t try to catch people screwing up, try to catch them doing things right and then give them a hearty “Whale Done!” This involves more than tossing them a few insincere, generic pats on the back. “If you’re insincere with a whale, the animal will know,” the book says. “You can’t fool a killer whale.” People aren’t much different. A full-blown Whale Done response includes:
- Praising people immediately.
- Including specifics about what they did right, or almost right.
- Sharing your positive feelings about what they did.
- Encouraging them to keep up the good work.
But what about when a salesperson makes a mistake that costs you a listing? After all, you can hardly ignore poor performance or negative behavior. The book advises a technique called redirection—taking the energy from negative behavior and refocusing it in a positive way. The idea is to get the employee on track, without being destructively critical. This involves these basic steps:
- Describing the error or problem as soon as possible, clearly, and without assigning blame.
- Showing the error’s negative impact.
- If appropriate, taking the blame. In other words, if the mistake resulted from you not giving them enough information, don’t take it out on them.
- Going over the task in detail.
- Expressing trust that the salesperson can accomplish the task.
These methods might sound simplistic, but Sea World trainers have successfully used them to establish relationships with killer whales.
Whale Done! communicates its core ideas simply and effectively, and the natural appeal of its hook is obvious. Some readers might find themselves scared off by its relatively high price for a low page count–$19.95 for 128 pages. But ask yourself how much one good idea is worth–the book’s novel look at how to establish positive relationships might justify the cost for you. After all, if these methods work on Shamu, why not make them work for you?
By John Mayfield Jr., broker-owner, Mayfield Real Estate Better Homes and Gardens, Flat River, Mo.
Reflections for Managers: A Collection of Wisdom & Inspiration From the World’s Best Managers, By Bruce Hyland and Merle Yost (McGraw-Hill Inc.) $14.95.
Each day managers face a double-edged sword, one with an s on each side. The s of success on one edge is the reward and gratification we get from leading salespeople toward our company’s goals.
At the same time, we face the s of struggle. We struggle with salespeople and employees. Are they reaching production goals? Picking up signs? Even just showing up for work?
Reflections for Managers: A Collection of Wisdom & Inspiration From the World’s Best Managers can help you address both edges of the sword.
The book is divided into eight topics, such as sensitivity, company politics, and leadership. Under the topics are various guidelines, each handled in about two pages. The 64 guidelines are easy to read, beginning with a description of the guideline, followed by an explanation of the concept and the actions you can take, and ending with questions to reflect on.
The book isn’t geared to any particular industry’s managers, but the topics translate well to the real estate industry. And although it focuses on problems, the book includes a positive side by revealing how managers have made changes necessary to achieve success.
The book has special merit for managers of large real estate offices because most of the guidelines relate best to organizations with many personalities. But as the manager of a small company, I still benefited from many of the issues discussed.
For instance, I appreciated the section that deals with being visible. Since I wear a lot of hats, I often find myself wrapped up in so many daily tasks that I might seem invisible. But one of the guidelines reinforced how important it is for me to be available to listen to my salespeople. Now I take care of paperwork early in the morning, before others have arrived, so that I’m more available during the day.
Although the book covers some excellent topics, I found myself losing interest because the format becomes stale if you read more than a few guidelines in one sitting. My suggestion, and what I do now, is to keep the book nearby and read one scenario each day.
Take the time to reflect on the statements and answer the questions that follow each section. Since the guidelines are only two pages, the time you spend will be well worth it.