Keeping your high-flyer’s feet on the ground

Keeping your high-flyer’s feet on the ground

Successful estate agents are, by their nature, driven, determined, independently-minded individuals. Keeping your high-flyer’s feet on the ground are driven by the thrill of the chase, relish the challenge of a demanding target and get their kicks from clinching a sale. These very qualities are why you hired them in the first place. But keeping these impatient, adrenaline-seeking thrill junkies satisfied and stimulated in their day-to-day role, with all the boring admin, tiresome paperwork and endless meetings that are inevitably part of any job, is no mean task.

Here are some of our tips to stop your high achievers getting bored or stale:

1. Allow them autonomy

You’ve hired the best talent and set out what you expect, now the smartest thing you can do is give them the freedom to do their job without breathing over their shoulder and micro-managing their every move.

Martin Gibbons, founder of top psychological profiling company PeopleMaps, explains, “There are several things that come together to create each work environment but the biggest influence is usually the line manager. Line managers can make small adjustments to create an environment where people thrive. If the recruit thrives on autonomy, then the line manager should give them plenty of autonomy.”

Simon Duce, managing director of leading lettings agency ARPM, echoes this view. “In my experience, allowing employees to have independence and the freedom to make decisions – and to then stand back and own those decisions – is key to not only keeping employees motivated, but also enabling them to develop commercial acumen.”

2. Give them a say

You were keen to listen to what they had to say in the interview and that shouldn’t stop once they’re hired. Your employees need to know you value their insights and ideas and the best way to demonstrate that is by acting on their contributions where this makes business sense.

3. Create a sense of family

With long hours and weekend working a matter of course, estate agents tend to spend as much time with their work colleagues as they do with their families. So it’s vital to ensure that the workplace is a warm, supportive place.

“We foster a real sense of teamwork, to the extent it borders on that sense of belonging to a family,” says Gareth Ashington, managing director of award-winning Buckinghamshire agents Ashington Page. This means that when an employee is away – whether on annual leave or through illness – their work is willingly covered by the rest of the team “so when they come back the client isn’t screaming down the phone and the returning employee feels great that their colleagues cared enough to make sure their clients were looked after.”

Coming to work should be fun and little things can make a real difference, as Gareth discovered: “With a lot of discerning coffee drinkers in the office we splashed out on a Nespresso coffee machine and milk frother, which is very popular and has proved to be a worthwhile investment in terms of morale.” As has the extra day’s holiday Ashington Page awards staff for every year’s service after three years to recognise loyalty and commitment. Added to this, the firm deliberately closes for the full eleven days between Christmas and New Year to allow staff family time. As Gareth Ashington points out, “Each member of the team works extremely hard all year and this is our way of showing appreciation for their families’ support.”

4. Be consistent

Fairness and transparency should be your watchwords if you want to avoid stoking petty resentments and keep team morale high. Be consistent in your decision-making and avoid any actions that could leave you open to accusations of favouritism.

5. Foster a sense of purpose

Sometimes money and prestige simply aren’t enough. Employees also need to feel that their job has meaning and makes a difference to people’s lives. Granted, we don’t all work in the emergency services, the medical profession or a premature baby unit so many firms find that adopting a local charity can make employees feel they are doing something meaningful, as well as bringing other business benefits. Here at Rayner Personnel, for instance, we believe in giving something back to the local community. One of the ways we do this is by providing year 10, year 11 and lower sixth pupils at local schools with real world interview experience. Mock interviews help students learn what to expect, what to say and what to wear when applying for jobs. Our staff find it fulfilling to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation and, who knows, we may even talent spot a potential star of the future!

6. Make it personal

Show staff you care about them as individuals, whether that means offering private medical care or sponsoring training that will enhance their career prospects. Ashington Page holds its annual Christmas party at a director’s home rather than in the impersonal surroundings of a local restaurant – a tradition that started out of necessity when the recession first hit and has continued since out of preference. “We plough back the money we save on an overpriced festive meal into good food and champagne,” explains Gareth Ashington. “And we think it gives an important message when employees are welcomed into directors’ homes. We are all part of each other’s lives.”

7. Manage to reflect personality type

The importance of treating staff as individuals may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many firms fail to recognise this. Some estate agents absolutely need a short sales cycle and are unlikely to stick with you if they feel the sales cycle is too long. Others will cope with cold calling better than others. So while it is fair to say that all sales roles may involve cold calling, the degree to which it is required may vary. If you know your new recruit hates surprises, give them plenty of notice of impending work or a project you want them to take on.

As Martin Gibbons says, “Great managers, with high performing teams, create conducive environments for all their staff. Poor managers, on the other hand, expect all the staff to change to suit their personal management style.”

In what is effectively a seller’s market – when good candidates are desperately needed but hard to find – it’s vital not only to attract high performers, but equally important to keep the talent you’ve already got. Our advice is to be proactive and review salary packages now to ensure they remain competitive rather than wait until one of your best people threatens to jump ship.

Keeping your high-flyer’s feet on the ground