If I asked you what it would take to build a great business, what would you say? A strong leadership structure, capital, tools and training…but how long would you go on before you said “a great company culture?” It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about creating a great organization, but it may very well be the most important…
As a team leader or broker-owner in real estate, you know that having a strong team is important to be successful. Recruiting top agents and amazing staff is hard, but you’ve done it. You provide fantastic training and development. You have done your best to create a positive and productive work environment. But when was the last time you thought about your company's culture? Is it a positive or a negative place to work? A positive culture will have a massive impact on the success of your business, while a negative culture will destroy it.
WHAT IS COMPANY CULTURE?
Company culture is the values, beliefs, and behaviors that make up the special environment of your business. It's how your team members interact with each other, how they work together, and how they represent your brand to clients. A strong culture does so much! It creates a sense of community. It increases agent/employee satisfaction leading to better retention. Your strong culture can even lead to increased productivity and profits. Yes, more money.
Having a strong culture is important for success in any kind of business, not just real estate. It takes time and effort to create and maintain a positive culture, but in the end, it's worth it. In this article, we'll talk about the importance of culture in your real estate organization. We'll give tips for building a strong culture in your organization. I'll share examples of what I have done in my businesses.
I recently worked with a real estate coaching client with a team that had low morale and high turnover. After a few coaching calls, it became clear that the problem was a lack of positive culture. The team members felt disconnected and unsupported....they didn't feel like they belonged.
We worked together to define the values of the organization. This laid the groundwork for a plan for building a stronger culture. We started by fostering a sense of community through team-building activities and social events…everybody loves a company-sponsored happy hour. We worked hard to improve communication and collaboration, and we made sure to recognize and reward the team who did the hard work.
The results were awesome. Team morale improved, turnover decreased, and productivity increased. This alone shows the power of a strong culture in real estate.
BENEFITS OF STRONG COMPANY CULTURE
There are many benefits to having a strong culture in real estate. For one, a positive culture can attract top talent to your organization. People want to work for companies that have a great reputation and a culture that aligns with their own values. In addition, a strong culture can lead to increased employee/agent satisfaction and retention. When team members feel valued and supported, they are more likely to stay with your organization and be more productive. When I first opened my brokerage, it was important to me to have a culture of winners.
But building a strong culture doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and effort to create and maintain a positive culture, and it starts with leadership. As the leader, you can set the tone for your organization's culture. Here are some tips you need to put in place for building a strong culture in your real estate organization:
Define your values and communicate them
Your company's values should be the foundation of your culture, and they need to be communicated to every team member. Make sure your values align with the goals and mission of your organization and reinforce them. Remind everybody often.
We start communicating our values on day 1. The final page of our agent contract is our company's core values. Agents are required to sign that page upon joining the company. Another way to show your values is to have them on pictures on the wall. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures with motivational quotes in offices. Try replacing those quotes with your values. We aim to acknowledge agents and employees who show great examples of our values in meetings and on social media. Publicly reward good behavior if you want others to act the same.
Foster a sense of community
Encourage team members to get to know each other and build relationships outside of work. Make friends with one another! You can do this through team-building activities and social events. Even simple things like hosting a weekly team lunch or creating a slack channel for non-work-related conversations will have an impact.
We have many opportunities for our agents and team to hang out with each other. My personal favorite way is to host monthly or bi-monthly happy hours. One of our managers will hand each attendee two drink tickets and we order a bunch of great appetizers. We hold these happy hours at cool locations around Sacramento and make it about having fun!
These happy hours serve as a great recruiting opportunity as well if you ask your agents to bring their real estate friends.
Encourage open communication and collaboration
A positive culture is built on trust, and trust is established through open and honest communication. Encourage team members to speak up and share their ideas, and create an environment where it's safe to take risks and try new things. This can be achieved through regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and feedback sessions.
I am a firm believer in creating collaborative moments in my organization. Some of the best ways that we have done this are by having morning huddles encouraging open communication, wellness check calls to the entire organization, and hosting roundtable discussions.
Promote work-life balance
A positive culture means valuing the well-being and happiness of your team members. Encourage your team to take breaks, unplug after work, and prioritize their personal lives.
This can be achieved through flexible work arrangements, such as allowing team members to work remotely or offering flexible schedules. Most of my staff are able to work remotely and often do. What first became a necessity out of the covid lockdown is now common practice. In fact, I work more often from home than in my office.
Many successful real estate agents have a challenging time with work-life balance. Some things that have worked for me in my real estate career and my role as a father are: scheduling time off well in advance, time block family time and work time, and creating boundaries with clients.
Recognize and reward team members
A little recognition can go a long way in building a positive culture. Whether it's a simple thank-you or a more formal recognition program, make sure to show your appreciation for your team's hard work and contributions.
This can be through verbal or written recognition, or even through small gestures like bringing in breakfast or hosting a team outing. I think most people in society appreciate being publicly praised.. Maybe that's just my perspective since I love it myself so much! Take every opportunity to praise and acknowledge team members.
We do so in every meeting, on our office slack, and on social media. Start recognizing agents on your personal page and you will feel the impact on your team quickly.
Be open and honest with your team about the inner workings of the business. Share important information, be upfront about any challenges or changes, and involve your team in decision-making processes whenever possible.
This can be achieved through regular updates, open-door policies, and soliciting feedback. The leadership team needs to be direct and open with everybody. The more you sugarcoat as a leader the more issues you will deal with.
Lead by example
As a team leader, you can set the tone for your organization's culture. Make sure your actions align with your company's values and be a role model for your team. This means being respectful, approachable, and open to feedback.
It also means being willing to do the work alongside your team. I absolutely believe my agents and team know I will work harder than most. It's demonstrated by all my actions. I communicate often with video, which agents need to be doing as well. It's the little things that people notice that leaders need to think about.
Establish clear expectations and guidelines
A strong culture is built on trust, respect, and accountability. Make sure your team members know what is expected of them and how they can contribute to the success of the organization.
This can be achieved through clear job descriptions, performance evaluations, and regular feedback sessions. Establishing expectations and guidelines begins with the first few meetings you have with an agent joining your organization.
It's laid out throughout the paperwork agents join. We talk nonstop about activity and expectations, and the ramifications if they are not met.
Foster ongoing learning and development
A strong culture values ongoing learning and growth. Encourage your team to take on new challenges, seek out professional development opportunities, and continually improve their skills. This can be achieved through training programs, workshops, and mentorship programs.
You must create an environment of constant learning and self-improvement. This begins in the team meetings and trainings. We have always brought in outside coaches and speakers for more agent training.
Stay true to your values
Building a strong culture is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing effort and commitment to your values and beliefs. Make sure to consistently review and assess your culture, and make any necessary adjustments to keep it strong and positive. If you have taken the time to launch company values you need to stay true to them, period.
Building a strong culture in real estate is important for success. A positive culture can improve employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. One of the best parts? It can also attract top talent to your organization. As a team leader, you can shape the culture of your organization, and the impact can be significant.
To build a strong culture, start by defining your values and communicating them clearly to your team. Foster a sense of community and encourage open communication and collaboration. Promote work-life balance and recognize and reward team members for their hard work. Practice transparency and lead by example. Establish clear expectations and guidelines, and foster ongoing learning and development. And most importantly, stay true to your values and beliefs.
It takes time and effort to build a strong culture, but the benefits are worth it. By investing in your culture, you can create a positive and successful work environment that will benefit your entire team. So don't underestimate the power of culture in real estate. Take the time to build a strong culture that aligns with your values and drives success for your team.
Nobody said that creating a great company culture would be easy. Hell, I know it’s not. But when your values are in line with your business, you are creating a synergetic and open environment that is built to last not only from a superficial perspective, but down to its foundation. If you want to build a company, a team, whatever, and have it last the test of time, think about the culture of your company, and how it reflects on you.