It is pretty ironic that I find myself involved in the real estate industry. My mother was, at any given point in my life, a bank manager, credit union mortgage officer, or the marketing director for several title companies. Many of her very close friends are real estate agents.
During a recent visit to see my mom, I spent a few minutes with one such woman, who started telling me how her manager could ask/tell her to do this, that or the other thing, but she didn't really have to act upon the request.
“I’m an independent contractor, I don’t have to do any of that!”
To some degree, the smugness of this comment surprised me since I've never really taken that stance when it comes to my own performance. In fact, I found myself identifying with many of the real estate managers who have to work with the difficult agents who possess such a perspective.
But thinking more about the exchange in the weeks following the visit, I started to have more sympathy for the frustration this agent was feeling. Why did the agent feel so uninspired by her manager? Certainly, there had to be some fault on both sides of the relationship that created strain and hindered it from blossoming into something more productive.
As the conflict of the competing perspectives remained unresolved in recesses of my subconscious, the memory of the event was triggered when I came across an article written by business author, Jeff Haden. Here is part of the article I found:
“Great leaders don't need to struggle to motivate, inspire, and lead their employees. Here's why.
I was struggling to engage the audience. Okay, be honest, I tried not to let it show but I was dying onstage.
So I took a different approach. "In one sentence, what is the key to leading people?" I asked.
I was about to speak when a voice broke the silence.
'I think I know,' a man sitting in the back corner said, somewhat hesitantly.
A few heads turned in his direction.
'No one cares how much you know until they first know how much you care about them.'
'Can you repeat that?' I said.
'We think we have all the answers, and maybe we do, but that doesn't matter. No one cares how much you know until they first know how much you care about them,' he repeated.
He took the silence in the auditorium as disagreement.
'No, really,' he said, starting to sound more confident. 'Yeah we're in charge and yeah we talk about targets and goals and visions, but our [agents] don't care about any of that stuff for very long. We can communicate and engage and connect all we want, but no one really listens to us. They just smile and nod and go back to doing their jobs the way they always do.'
'Our employees don't really care about what we want them to do until they know how much we care about them. When an employee knows--truly knows--that you care about them, then they care about you. And when they know you care, they will listen to you... and they will do anything for you.'
Best answer ever.”
Somehow, I don't think my mom's friend was convinced that her manager truly cared about her and had her best interests at heart. Harsh comments, such as the one she delivered to a near stranger, suggest that she did not feel valued by her manager.
Is the manager to blame? Maybe, or maybe not. I didn't have any information about the manager (there may have been an unknown reason to devalue this agent). I do know that if you want any relationship to prosper, building upon the foundation of genuine care and concern is critical.
If you're feeling strain in the relationships with some of your agents, consider asking questions related to this topic. At a minimum, you'll rekindle the fire of care and concern that needs to burn at the center of every healthy relationship.
Editor's Note: Lee Gray is the Senior Account Manager at Tidemark Inc. Lee is a guest contributor to WorkPuzzle. Comments or questions are welcome. If you're an email subscriber, reply to this WorkPuzzle email. If you read the blog directly from the web, you can click the "comments" link below.