Who Wants to Be Accountable?

Gosh, those are dreaded words for most people, or are they? Accountability, what’s it really mean? According to Webster’s Online dictionary, accountability means an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” Read what Wikipedia says about accountability:

Accountability is defined as “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct”.[1]

[1] Schedler, Andreas (1999). “Conceptualizing Accountability”. in Andreas Schedler, Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner. The Self-Restraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 13–28. ISBN 1-55587-773-7

The funny (or sad) thing is, in a business where we should strive for accountability on a daily, weekly and quarterly basis, very few if any of us do incorporate accountability into our workplace. Why? Why do we make accountability so difficult or “dreaded” as I referred to in the first paragraph? I believe the main reason we don’t institute good accountability programs in the workplace is that most people hate failure, and when we fail to meet up to our goals and expectations we feel a sense of a letdown to ourselves, our family and the organization. If we could somehow shift the failure aspect into a positive, it would work! How can we do this? Easy, instead of asking “why” ask “what.”

 

Don’t say – “Why didn’t you prospect this week? You said you we’re going to call on [x] number of new prospects, why?

 

Try – “What could you do differently this week to help you meet your goal of [x] new prospects?

 

I believe as managers and brokers we have to shift from the failure aspect to more of a coaching method. Use the defeats as ways to learn and grow. Make it clear from the outset that all of us will fall short or our goals and desires, but that doesn’t mean we can get back up and keep going. I love the old saying, “it’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how long you stay on the floor.”

 

Finally, for brokers and managers, accountability to your team is required and essential for your team to grow and prosper. Make accountability a coaching session and make sure you set time aside on a regular basis to help your team with accountability. For larger organizations (and even smaller groups) allow individuals to partner up with the accountability process. Make sure that these small groups meet regularly and encourage helping them and meeting on occasion to facilitate and assist with the accountability process.

 

There are some excellent books on accountability if you need to research more, and if you would like a copy of my accountability scorecard I’ve created to help with implementing this at your office please send me an e-mail and I’ll be glad to forward it to you at no cost. John@RealEstateTechGuy.com.

 

For more help with accountability visit www.RealEstateSalesMeetings.com.


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Are You Stressed Out?

This week I produced a new Sales Meeting for my www.RealEstateSalesMeetings.com Members entitled, “Stress Management.”  The Meeting Objective is to help agents learn effective ways to deal with stress on a daily basis.

Did You Know?

•Over 1 Million Americans have heart attacks each year

•Some 13 billion dozes of tranquilizers, barbiturates, and amphetamines are prescribed yearly

•8 Million Americans have stomach ulcers

•There are estimates of 50,000 attempted suicides each year.  Only one in eight are successful

•There are over 12 Million alcoholics in the United States

Finally, 80% of all people treated for some type of sickness is caused by Emotionally Induced Illnesses,”  (EII).  Learning to deal with stress is important for everyone, especially real estate professionals.  If you’re a broker and need help with your weekly sales meetings, check out www.RealEstateSalesMeetings.com.  I’d love to have you as a member.  You’ll receive this meeting and nearly 100 more in our database of meetings to choose from. 

Remember what Leo Buscaglia said:  “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a know, hang on, and swing.”   

The Real Estate Brokers Responsibility

I just concluded teaching a two-day seminar for the Council of Real Estate Brokers and Managers (CRB) – in Memphis, TN on “Performance Leadership,” with a wonderful group of managers and brokers from around the U.S. During this session it dawned on me the mind-boggling amount of responsibilities and duties a real estate broker/manager carries on their shoulders every day. Don’t misunderstand my statement, as I’m a 31 year veteran to the real estate industry, and I know firsthand all of the various areas a new sales associate must undertake to learn when they join your office, but for some unknown reason it’s just become second nature for me as a real estate broker/trainer. We spent the two days discussing the “ideal” sales associate, (our view and the consumers view) and then we looked at how the new and experienced agents needed to be trained, coached, mentored and what type of leadership style would work best for them. Recruiting and retention ideas were formulated as well as devising a written “Leadership Plan” to implement all the newly acquired information. Wow, what a needed and energizing experience for the real estate broker/manager!

This was my fourth time to teach this course for the CRB and I must admit the material and content finally clicked for me. I think the knowledge and needed action has always been there, but the need to organize, document and put your plans in writing finally made sense. Most importantly, stick to it! All of us have good intentions to follow a plan, but unless you take the time to formulate it and put it in writing, you’ll always fall short of the mark.

My biggest revelation from teaching the class is the “amount” of stuff we must teach and train new agents who join our firm. Policy and procedures, ethics, anti-trust, fair housing, do not call, customer relations, technology, and the list goes on and on. Sure, most of the “stuff” they’re supposed to learn in pre-license school, but everyone needs reminded and educated on a regular basis to learn and succeed. If you’re a large broker where you can delegate this out to a training manager or staff person you’re one step ahead of most brokers, but for people like me and other small to medium size broker/managers, our job description continues to get bigger and bigger. Unfortunately, the pay doesn’t seem to stay up with the increased liability and responsibilities of being a real estate broker.

So what’s the moral of this story/blog? First of all, if you have never taken the Performance Leadership class from the CRB, do so today! Call the council to find out when the next course might be offered, and or encourage your local REALTOR® board or association to offer the class to your membership. There are several excellent instructors for this course, and the brokers/managers in your area will benefit greatly from this offering. Second, begin to put your responsibilities for new and experienced agents in writing and think about ways you can fulfill and implement those plans. Think about the type of agent you want on your team and what characteristics and qualities they should meet to join your team. Ask yourself what your company’s culture and core values are, and put those thoughts and answers in writing. Remember, it’s your business, and without a proper plan (written plan) you may not always hit the mark.

If it’s not broken, leave it alone!

Recently my wife and I ate at a chain restaurant which serves Pasta that we truly enjoy. It’s a small restaurant that seats around 100 +/- customers, and several years ago would always be full of guests. This week the crowd was only a handful of people during a normal dinner time. I commented to my wife that their business had been off the last several times we had visited. Could it be the downturn in our economy that was keeping people away we thought? I don’t think so; because if I gave the name of the restaurant, many of you would know the establishment, and would agree that you can get a nice pasta dish there without spending a lot of money. One thing we did notice was that during the restaurant’s hay-day, they always sent someone around with a basket of warm breadsticks, offering additional bread to their guests at no additional charge. Now, the “free” breadsticks are no longer willfully available, unless you go to the counter and ask for them. Seems like a small thing, but I must admit it does seem burdensome to have to get up and go up to the counter to ask for another breadstick, compared to when they would come to your table and offer the same service. Ironically, their business has not been the same since this new procedure went into place.

A number of years ago a popular restaurant in my area was sold, and the first thing the new owner did was completely change the way the smorgasbord was set-up. When my dad and I ate there, he commented to me that the new owner would not last a year under his new concept. I can still remember my father (who was in retail business all his life) say to me that you don’t change something that is working right. If it’s not broken son, just leave it alone! Guess what? My dad was right, unfortunately the new owner didn’t last long, and the business was taken back over by the family, who by the way put the smorgasbord back to their father’s original (successful) concept.

This same principal holds true to our businesses today. If it’s not broken, leave it alone! Unfortunately many companies are changing things and cutting back in areas that really don’t cost a lot, but for the sake of slashing expenses, like, breadsticks will no longer be given to the guests unless they ask. If your team members like something you offer them and it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, but it offers a value added service back to them, then continue to provide it. Don’t cut something out just for the sake of removing it. Remember, if it’s not broken, leave it alone!

Good Intentions

Most brokers, managers and owners have good intentions of accomplishing certain tasks; unfortunately “time” is the culprit of many of our ideas. If only we could somehow squeeze another three or four hours into our fully packed 14 hour work days we could get a little more done. It seems as though I have so many good ideas, yet many of the plans and tasks are never executed because of two reasons:

  1. They slowly slip to the back burner
  2. I failed to write my good ideas down and forgot about them

Recently I listened to a wonderful audio book by Jim Rohn, where he discussed the need to keep a journal of your plans, ideas, thoughts and goals. I started doing that, and I’m hoping that I can begin a new direction in my life of “following through” with my good ideas. Stanford University did a research project about goals several years ago and determined that those people who write their goals down and read them daily, achieve those goals! Wow, what an amazing statistic, if, we just take the time to write down our goals and read them daily, we’ve elevated our chances of winning 80%. You can also read the book “What they don’t teach you at the Harvard Business School,” to find out more about why goals are important and the success of the 1979 graduating class who wrote their goals down prior to graduation. Writing and reading your plans, goals, tasks and ideas will be profitable to you in the long run!

I’m writing this blog because I know how busy and difficult a real estate broker, manager and owner’s job can be. I wear the same shoes, and I know that there are a zillion balls to juggle throughout the week. I also know that our sales associates are watching us to see how we execute those ideas that are pitched at us during sales meetings, across the desk or at the coffee pot week in and week out. Those ideas and suggestions that will help improve the office and make things better for everyone including the increase productivity and profitability for the company as a whole. When we fail to execute on those plans and goals we lose a little steam, feel a bit discouraged and question whether or not we’re making a difference. However, the total opposite takes place when we follow through on our ideas, suggestions and tasks at hand. Bottom line to all of this madness, I believe, is to keep a journal, and refer to it every day! Remember, if it’s good enough for consideration, it’s good enough to write down.

Strange but True!

Everyone needs a little encouragement from time to time, and with today’s tough economic climate we never know who might need a small token of appreciation or a simple smile. Two days ago I was having a good old fashioned “pity party” for myself. Have you ever had one of those events where you simply soak in the “poor ole’ me” syndrome for an hour or two? Well, needless to say I was having one of those moments where John was feeling sorry for himself. After driving for over two hours to take my Mother to see a doctor we received some bad news about her back, my Webinar that I tried to host (from my sister’s doctors office) failed miserably because of a bad internet connection, and should I go on? While my Mother and I drove back home and she fell asleep in the car, I began to fire up the ole pity party and think about a zillion reasons why my life was similar to George Bailey’s from it’s a Wonderful Life. A little later when I checked my e-mail, I had this lovely note from an attendee who had joined the Webinar explaining how much she enjoyed the session and all of the good information I had provided. She went on to compliment me in several ways and asked for more help with technology at their office. Several other e-mails had arrived where people had offered kind advice, understanding my situation and actually commending me for trying to still do a Webinar in the midst of my Mother’s needed attention. (By the way, my Mother insisted I do the Webinar, and her appointment was at my sister’s place of employment, so in most situations I would have cancelled this Webinar).

Here’s the strange twist. Yesterday, I spoke to a group of REALTORS® approximately 100 miles away from my home. While I delivered my talk on “Do You Have the Right G.A.S. in Your Tank,” stressing the importance of certain attributes to survive in today’s economic climate, I had noticed a hand go up near the front of the room. The young lady indicated with a smile that she was on my Webinar yesterday and that she really enjoyed it and gained a lot of information. Before I could finish telling the group about my kind and considerate e-mail I received after my pity party, she smiled and said, “I was the one who sent you the e-mail.” Wow, what a wild and strange twist of faith! People from all over the country on this Webinar that I thought I had messed up, and here was the person who reached their hand out through the World Wide Web and helped me get up off the ground. That was my closing for the group, (who by the way had a few tears of joy and happiness) in that yes, we need to set goals, be positive, and put the right stuff in our heads with regards to news, motivational tapes etc., but, we will all have bad days, be discouraged, and have a good old fashioned pity parties from time to time. That’s why it is so important to always try and help someone else out. Smile, encourage, and offer assistance to a co-worker or friend. Cards, notes, a phone call can all mean so much to people, and you never know when you’re going to brighten someone else’s’ day, and reach out to help pick them up off the ground. It was such a joy and honor to meet the person who encouraged me this week, and strange as it might seem, it is true!

Are Sales Meetings Dead?

It seems like the more people I talk to, the more I hear about the lack of weekly sales meetings. I guess the economy can even begin to take its toll on our coming together on a regular basis to share ideas and information. My belief is that sales meetings are beginning to diminish because of three things:

  1. Brokers and managers are having difficulty staying motivated through these challenging times. Let’s face it, when you’re the one who has to try and get everyone else motivated, and you yourself are struggling to keep your head above water, it’s a tough job to do.
  2. Positive becomes negative. Many brokers and managers are avoiding sales meetings because what is supposed to be a motivational and uplifting experience is now becoming a knit picking negative gripe session.
  3. The Same Ole’ Thing Syndrome. Most companies have forsaken sales meetings because they feel like it’s just the same ole’ items rehashed week after week.

If you’re struggling with any of those three issues, yes, you’re probably better off to not hold a sales meeting, however, you are running the risk of a disconnect with your team. The fact of the matter is, your agents and staff need to hear from you regularly! As tough as times may be, hearing from the leader that the company will get through this market, providing new ideas and concepts and offering a different twist or take on a concept can be a rewarding and refreshing experience. Yes times are tough, your team can get behind by a few points, but your weekly sales meeting is your time to stand in front of your group in the locker room at half-time and encourage them to go back out in the game and retake the lead. It’s not a gripe session or a blame game, but a chance to compliment, reward and offer new ideas and concepts. Your sales meetings should provide positive communication and value from you the manager/broker/leader.

Here are a few ideas to try at your next sales meeting to change the way you meet:

  • Do something you’ve never done. Be different!
  • Strive for creativity
  • Let your agents solve problems. Use groups and dyads for exercises
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Use a flip chart to record answers
  • Follow-up on key ideas and suggestions
  • Have fun

Are sales meetings dead? They shouldn’t be. Sales meetings should be a time of enjoyment and excitement by you and your team members. If you’re having difficulty finding that niche, check us out at www.GoToSalesMeetings.com.