Erik Hatch found himself in a precarious situation back in 2013. In a time when real estate was beginning to rebound, his team was, as he puts it, “a flaming pile of a hot mess.” According to Erik, he had entered real estate by accident in 2011. He had built a team and had great success, but it all came crashing down in 2013. They were kicked out of the brokerage they were out. A lot of his team left during the turmoil so he and those who were left went to “rebound girlfriend brokerage” for a few months to lick their wounds and figure out where it all went wrong.
Real Estate almost more than any other industry can be rife with failure. Before even entering the business real estate agents are faced with the statistic that more than 75% of all new real estate agents fail and quit within the 1st year. Then there is the completely new aspect of being an entrepreneur. It all rests on the real estate agent to make it happen. Failure is going to be waiting at the door of a lot of an agents first, second, and third attempts at success in the business. For many that’s the excuse to get out of the business, for others who show the drive they can succeed. But then there’s the other aspect to this gig, the false flat.
Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose. – Bill Gates
If you’re a cyclist or mountain biker you might have heard this term. It refers to when you believe that after you scaled the hill or mountain you’ve hit the straightaway, but, unbeknownst to you, you’re actually still at an incline. The illusion that the trial is over tricks you into assuming that the hard part is over, but after a good amount of time on a false flat, you can wear yourself out. Erik Hatch prior to 2013 had had great success but then they had to start over. That failure became his biggest teacher; forced to start over, they created new paths to success.
Leader vs Boss
Erik is pretty candid about why it fell apart. “I was treating them like they were my employees, and they were riding on my coattails,” Hatch said, “If I was ever going to have the life that I wanted I would have to build them up into leaders and empower them. I didn’t need followers. I needed leaders.” This is a common pitfall for a lot of new team leaders. Within the team it’s easy to consolidate power and be the one who makes every decision. This creates an employee-boss relationship with a bottleneck tied to all decisions because the team waits for the boss to make a decision. When the boss wants to go on, nothing gets done; not because people don’t want to work, but because they haven’t been empowered to make decisions while the boss is away.
While we all have a great capacity to wipe the slate and start over when it concerns ourselves, we tend to hold grudges toward others. If there is someone on a team that has over the past year been underperforming or hasn’t kept promises–even if they have made a commitment to be better and have been fantastic for the past couples months–they will not be given the benefit of the doubt for their improvement. Erik likens it to when you adopt a dog that had a bad owner. They’re skittish because they remember how they were treated. Your own teammates, internal sales agents, and assistants will remember how they were treated, so, even when you begin to make changes for the better, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the benefit of the doubt by those around you. Continue to stay consistent in your positive changes between you, them and your business.
So What Changed?
The transition from working in his regular business solo to being in a team was rough for Erik. The idea of leading someone didn’t come naturally. He was grateful for the chance to start over when it all came crashing down.
“I expected that person to just understand my business and they were supposed to assist me; that they were to come to work for me everyday. But here’s what changed when I was given the gift of starting over; I realized and recognized that I go to work for them everyday.” – Erik Hatch
The productivity rates, the attention to detail, and overall buy in from his team drastically changed when he began to adopt this view.
How do I help others on my team improve?
It is inevitable that on any team that there will be those who underperform. A common question Erik gets is how does he help those people improve? Berfore anything, he recommends, ask yourself a very important question: Do they know they’re being destructive or not meeting the standard?
Most don’t. Most think they’re either succeeding or achieving the goals expected of them because no one has been direct to them. Their leader has not stepped in and course corrected. When you’ve answered that first question–the answer is usually no–then you move to these three steps.
- Assume positive intent
- Come from a point of curiosity
- Help them self discover
First, assume positive intent. Very few people are purposefully sabotaging your team or brokerage. Most of the time they are trying to do the right thing, but not accomplishing the goal. Don’t let your frustrations build to creating conspiracy theories or malicious intent when they are simply underperforming.
Second, come from a point of curiosity. Don’t pull them aside for a one and one and then put them on blast. Ask them how they feel work has been going lately or how they feel their performance has been. Don’t come in accusatory. Remember the first step, assume positive intent.
Third, help them self discover. They’re not going to learn anything by rubbing their faces in their mistake. Allow them to discover the problem from their eyes with your coaching. This allows them to have self-reflection and make a change for good. If you are demanding a change they’re more likely to dig their heels in and not make any change toward the better.
The Value of A Good System
As Erik had pointed out, he focused on the leadership portion before he ever starts recommending systems and processes to those he coaches. “You can’t be a tool when using a tool,” Erik says. But once leadership in place it’s important to have a good process in place. Because a good leader wants good tools to execute his leadership plan and goals. That’s where Firepoint comes in. Firepoint is the perfect CRM for leading your team–or soon to be team–as you are able to provide accountability to your team. Most importantly, you are able to work as a team in Firepoint. Agents can easily and effectively communicate on the backend of Firepoint. No longer will you have to search your e-mails, texts, and voicemails to know what’s going on with a contact and your team; it’s all there in Firepoint.