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2 February 2009

Getting Agents Involved in the Office through Brainstorming

The story of “negative Roberta.”

This story provides lessons about getting agents involved in office activities and also in learning how not to jump to rash conclusions. This is a true story that happened in an actual sales office.

The agents in a particular real estate office wanted to revamp the picture display cases in the front window and to assign someone the task of rotating them on a weekly basis. This job was far too time intensive for the administrative assistant, because it involved;

  • Following up with agents to get new pictures
  • Setting the new pictures in frames
  • Eliminating unseasonal photos, etc.

The decision was made to have a brainstorming session at an office meeting and ask for agents to volunteer for the job.

“Roberta”, as we will call her, was one of the most negative agents in the office and someone who always projected tension by the expression on her face. She was the last person in the world that the manager thought would be interested in this new and somewhat thankless job. However, after the brainstorming session, to the manager’s surprise and even dismay, Roberta volunteered to take the job.

With considerable concern, the manager agreed.

Throughout the next week, the manager was anxiously awaiting for the other ‘shoe to drop,’ since he was convinced that Roberta would react poorly once reality had set in. About 10 days later, the manager had just noticed that the pictures in the window had been changed as Roberta promptly approached him.

The manager smelled trouble, but then Roberta said  “you know…I really enjoy working for you”.  Astonished at this positive turn and searching quickly for a response, the manager said “that’s really great Roberta and thank you for saying that. May I just ask… what caused you to make that comment just now?”

Roberta replied “because you allow people to get involved in the office“.

Allow people to get involved? What a lesson in judgment! The manager had simply assumed that Roberta would not be interested and would never have approached her directly about managing something that seemed menial despite the underlying value it offered. But in presenting the situation to the office in a brainstorming format, the correct answer surfaced and the right person took the job.

There are many things that brokers can suggest in order to inspire their agents to become more involved. Examples include, but are certainly not limited to;

  • Start a company blog and give a creative agent a chance to write
  • Assign someone the role of setting up a company “Facebook” and/or other social networking accounts
  • Have agents with good instructional skills take the lead in new agent training activities
  • Let highly skilled agents direct an in-office coaching program for experienced agents
  • Create an “agent advisory council”that contributes to the decision making process & acts as a liaison to other agents.

I’m sure there are as many ideas as there are agents in the office. The bonus to all this is you might end up finding some hidden talent you didn’t know you had and some folks who might be able to provide services that you would otherwise pay for.

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