I was having a conversation with a young business leader from another state the other day who had visited my office. He was commenting on how he loved that my office was using fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks, and an open seating plan to help build culture. I had to explain to him that it had nothing to do with culture-building at all.
Making sure to have the fresh produce available for staff and agents, in my office at all times wasn’t to build culture. It was to make them feel comfortable. Real estate agents tend to work from home, and I wanted to help them show up for work instead. I wanted my office to feel like home. So the first thing I did was to create an open seating area, where people could sit, lounge, be comfortable, do research, meet with their clients, and not have to work in a stuffy boardroom.
I also wanted people to think, “Gosh, I’m hungry! Good thing I can grab something to snack on; at least I don’t have to pack a big lunch or go out to eat.” That’s not necessarily about building culture, as much as it’s about giving someone what they want. But really, building culture and creating an office environment that encourages growth is about paying attention to people. Internal culture, and having surroundings and conditions conducive to continuity, with an absence of politics is essential to maintain. You have to be willing to fire your number-one agent, or number-one employee if they’re causing drama in the office.
So, creating an environment that is facilitative to progression is really about hiring the right people, and then continuing to stay in touch with them. Understanding what their ongoing needs are, because their needs may change, is essential. Some people’s needs may be financial, while others’ could be an interest in a title or a desire for recognition. You have to be able to listen and understand them. It’s not about putting a foosball table in the office; it’s about walking up to someone and asking them, “Hey, how are you?” and being ready for the real answer.
Now, there are other things, I believe, that could also be said to help with growth. I think, however, the environment is the most important thing. Like playing the right music in the office; it’s essential. Having appropriate music on when people walk in, can help them to feel uplifted. The right smells and nutritious snacks can be welcoming as well. They can be as crucial as proper lighting and good music. Making people feel comfortable, so they return to the office, is the ultimate goal.
I’ll tell you something my uncle told me. He said, “The most important thing you can do as a new agent is to show up in uniform.”
He also shared a baseball analogy. He said, “You know, I’m never going to be called to pinch-hit if I’m not in the dugout, ready to go.” If I’m at home, the broker’s not going to call me and say, “Hey, I have somebody who potentially wants to sell their house, do you wanna leave home, get dressed, get ready, and go meet them?” No, he’s just gonna walk outside of his office into the common area, and say, “Hey, who wants the opportunity?” And he’s going to look at the person who’s there every day, and always ready.
So you can’t get the pinch-hit, which allows you to hit the home run, the double, the triple, or the single if you’re not there. That’s number one; you have to be there. Getting people to the office, so they have the opportunity, is critical. Make it comfortable, and have the right foods within reach, so people are physically ready to go. Have the right music to pump them up, and encourage them to be fittingly dressed, so they feel prepared.
When you’re in the dugout, there are benefits to other people being there; you get an opportunity to talk to the person who’s hitting the base hits every time they get up to bat. You get to speak to the person that’s throwing the shutouts. You get an opportunity to find out, directly from them, what’s working and what’s not, which cultivates growth. It’s like this circle, you know? If you pay attention to what’s going on, meet people where their needs are, they will grow, and you will grow with them.
Give more value than you take. That’s it, right? Give more value than you take, and meet people where their needs are; this will help you be a superstar as an agent, and in anything else you do.