4 May 2011

What’s Really Behind a Bad Attitude?


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 windows and someone needed to take charge of rotating them on a weekly basis. This job was time intensive, not an earning opportunity and tedious, because it involved;

  • Following up with other agents to get new pictures at frequent intervals
  • Setting the new pictures in frames on a weekly basis
  • Eliminating unseasonal shots, etc.

The decision was made to have a brainstorming session at a company meeting and to ask for an agent to volunteer.

“Roberta”, as we will call her, was thought to be one of the most ‘negative’ agents in the office and a person who always seemed to project tension, just by the expression on her face. She was the last person in the world that the leader thought would be interested in this new and somewhat thankless job. At the end of the Brainstorming session, Roberta approached the leader slowly. As fate would have it and much to the manager’s surprise (and even dismay), Roberta volunteered to take the job!

With more than a little concern but also walking a very careful line, the leader reluctantly agreed.

Throughout the next week, the leader anxiously waited for the other ‘shoe to drop,’ since he was convinced that Roberta would react badly once ‘reality had set in’. Days later, the manager had just noticed that the pictures in the window had been changed as Roberta walked toward him.

As she approached, Roberta said carefully and slowly…“you know…I really enjoy working for you”.  Astonished at this positive turn and searching quickly for an appropriate response, the leader said “that’s really great Roberta, but may I ask… what caused you to make that comment?”

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

Allow people to get involved? You could have knocked the leader over with a feather! He had made an uninformed assumption that Roberta would not be interested and would therefore never have approached her about managing the project. However, in presenting the situation to the office in an objective and planned 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 in the working environment. Examples include, but are certainly not limited to;

  1. Starting a company blog and give a creative agent a chance to write
  2. Assigning someone the role of setting up a company “Facebook, Twitter” or other social networking page
  3. Having agents with good instructional skills take the lead in new agent training activities
  4. Allowing highly skilled agents to direct an in-office coaching program for experienced agents
  5. Creating an “agent advisory council” that contributes to the decision making process and acts as liaison to other agents in the organization.

So what is really behind a bad attitude? Perhaps sometimes, it’s simply looking for a sense of belonging and not knowing how to find it.

4 thoughts on “What’s Really Behind a Bad Attitude?

  1. Robert, that's a great post! In areas where the real estate market isn't so great, there's a lot of negativity floating around, whether it's in the office or out there in the field. Maybe if we gave people more opportunities to participate in different ways like in your article, then people would start having a more positive outlook on things. This is what we need in the real estate industry.

  2. Thank you Lydia. I really believe that you are correct about this. While there is no "one" solution for everyone, participation certainly brings with it a sense of purpose and belonging. I hope that more business leaders adopt this type of approach. Thanks again. Bob

  3. Wow! Great post. I am all about staying positive. For me feeling like I am a part of something or contributing to a group helps think positive and more motivated to be more productive. It's funny how the smallest contributions or suggestions can completely change a persons attitude.

  4. Ariel, You are absolutely correct. Small contributions, given by numerous people, over an extended period of time, always add add up to more than the sum of their parts. Thank you for your comment. Bob

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