The Able Agent: 10 Tips for building a people-first agency

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Guest blog by Charlotte Jeffrey-Campbell, Director, and Trainer at The Able Agent, a comprehensive online training solution for estate and lettings agents.

Attraction, retention and development are often separated into distinct categories. Whilst each of these areas has their own nuances, and is crucial to success for agencies, it’s important to flag how much they influence each other and how interlinked they are. They cannot, and should not, be dealt with in isolation.

In the property industry right now, there are a lot of vacancies, and a clear shortfall when it comes to candidates.

Charlotte Jeffrey-Campbell, Founder and Director of The Able Agent, shares her tips on how to build a strong collective strategy that will retain and develop existing agents. This, in turn, can effortlessly create a culture that will attract great people to your agency; people who want to stay…

1. Listen, value and respect

First and foremost, people want to be valued and respected. Make sure to listen to all queries and concerns from staff. Create a space, or a set time, where it is safe for all to express themselves truthfully and focus on listening to, and collaborating with each other to find solutions for problems and queries.

This is especially important around the conversation of fees. When considering fee increases, make sure to ask staff, what do you think we are worth? Listen and respond to their answers. It is a hard topic, but an open conversation will make agents feel valued and able to express their expectations from you.

2. Ask

Sometimes the hardest questions are the ones that give us the answers we need to make the changes necessary for success. Monthly, or at the minimum, quarterly 1:1’s with employees, where you ask them direct questions about what it’s like to work in your agency, as well as their goals and motivations are very important. Don’t just consider their role in the company, but make sure you understand what individual team members want from their work and the place it holds in their lives as a whole.

3. Inspire

Lead how you would want to be led. As a manager or leader, you have a responsibility to act in a way that agents will want to emulate. Leaders should ensure they are taking some time to focus on their own development and learning.

4. Communicate expectations

How well do you really communicate with your team? How clearly defined is their role? Sometimes there is a misalignment between the perception people have of the role they are hired for, and your expectations of them in that role. It’s hard to perform if you aren’t clear on the job you were hired to do. Make sure everyone knows what the company goals, and their individual aims, are at any time.

5. Show recognition for contribution

Reward staff who are delivering on their goals, but also consider where agents may be deserving of recognition in other areas, including effort and attitude. Perks and rewards are great, but even small comments or an appreciation email can go a long way.

6. Develop

Every employee, including management and leadership staff should have an objective or plan in terms of development. Development and training are key for retention, as well as onboarding new staff. In order for this to work goals have to be personal to individual preferences. Who wants to be qualified and gain certification? Who wants to do wider skills training, or networking? Who wants to join industry or cross-sector organisations? Having these clear individual development goals as part of your business will help your agency appeal to people who are hungry for success.

7. Build structure

Structure is essential within your business, in terms of workflows and expectation, but also within training. You want to be able to sell the fun, rewarding parts of your agency, but also the structure to potential candidates. Success can be supported through clear processes and workflows, as well as setting manageable training plans. Letting your agents set their own plans, and break down their learning into bitesize chunks, or smaller milestones, will help to motivate them and keep them on track.

8. Mindset

Allow people to make mistakes. Fail, and create a judgement-free space to share failures, so everyone can learn together.

9. Recruit on values

Skills can be learnt, but attitudes and values are harder to change. Recruit people for your agency who will fit into the team, furthering the culture and environment you have, and train them where they may be missing experience.

10. Fulfilment

Everyone needs a feeling of fulfilment in some way from their job. Make sure you aren’t retaining people for your benefit, but also for theirs. If your business, or the industry, isn’t right for them, it’s best to support them to move on. If your staff aren’t happy or fulfilled this impression will be obvious to new candidates, or can ferment into dissatisfaction amongst the whole workforce.

Taking some time to think and plan for the culture of development and values in your business can reap big rewards. It is hard to look outward in, but everyone needs an objective look at their own business. Sometimes asking your staff, or even those who are interviewing, for their impression of your business, can open up your eyes to the potential for growth and improvement.

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