When hiring estate agents for your sales or lettings team, who wouldn’t want a self-starting, go-getting, close-the-deal-at-all-costs superstar? Nothing seems to faze these impressive individuals. An ambitious sales target? No problem!
Every competitor in the area sniffing around a hot prospect? No sweat.
In fact, you may think recruiting a team full of ambitious, high-achieving candidates is the way to achieve the results your business needs for 2017, particularly in a tough market.
But when it comes to building your team it would be a serious mistake to fill it solely with these results-driven personalities. You also need a sprinkling of ‘Steady Eddies’ to create a team that works well together.
As well as those smooth-tongued agents who ooze charisma and can start a conversation at 100 paces, you also need reliable, detail-conscious Steady Eddies to get the paperwork right and create a sense of teamwork in your workplace. It’s all about balance.
Although the description is often used in a derogatory sense, there is much to be said for Steady Eddies. According to professional engineer and author David M Taylor, this personality type tends to “Concentrate on people rather than tasks and is typically more introverted than extroverted. They place more attention on others than on themselves. These people are the ones that you can always rely on in any situation. They strive to please and work hard to maintain harmony.”
This is a principle I follow in my own business. In a strong team, there’s a place for both the superstars and the Steady Eddies. What estate agents need, from the small independent to the biggest corporate, are loyal employees at all levels who are on the same journey. Each has a part to play in the team’s success.
That’s because in estate agency, as in any business, success hinges on having the right people with the right skills and personality in the right roles. As the business consultant Jim Collins memorably said: “Leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with ‘where’ but with ‘who’. They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”
He explained, “If you begin with ‘who’, you can more easily adapt to a fast-changing world.
“If people get on your bus because of where they think it’s going, you’ll be in trouble when you get 10 miles down the road and discover that you need to change direction because the world has changed. But if people board the bus principally because of all the other great people on the bus, you’ll be much faster and smarter in responding to changing conditions.”
Conversely, “If you have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.”
While a handful of sales superstars are great when you need to dig your business out of a hole and reach challenging sales targets, the superstar’s self-centred “What’s in it for me?” approach can create a dog-eat-dog atmosphere where team members’ co-operation extends no further than passing on a phone message at best and Machiavellian dirty tricks at worst. Quite simply, there is no team ethos.
As a manager, it’s about bringing out the best in every individual – recognising their strengths and weaknesses and understanding what they can contribute to the team. I am not advocating being defeatist and simply accepting your employees’ limitations. Whatever role they play in the team dynamic, all members of the team can strive for improved performance.
There is always room for an individual to stretch themselves, aim higher and hone their skills.
Building a strong team may start with recruitment but it doesn’t end with it. You need to look for and develop talent at every level, encourage employee engagement and support those who aspire to move up within the business. After all, as management theorist Meredith Belbin pointed out, “Nobody is perfect but a team can be.”