Industry commentator and digital expert, Lisa B, looks at the divide between departments in real estate offices and how overcoming it can build productivity and grow your business.
Sometimes in the workplace, offices can unfortunately experience an ‘us and them’ mentality.
People can work in one organisation, but work in individual segments within that organisation.
They might be quite happy to work in their division such as sales, property management, administration or management, however, for some reason, they have trouble collaborating with other team members.
This can obviously cause all kinds of trouble within the workplace.
Why you DON’T want an ‘us and them’ mentality in your office
- You want everyone to work as a team for the benefit of the office
- You want everyone to support each other
- You don’t want animosity filtering through the office
- You want everyone to be friends and have harmony
- You want to trust your team members
- You want to be all working for the same outcome
- You want open communication
- You don’t want to lose leads due to silos
Being business-minded is being one collective ‘us’
Staff in a real estate office need to be business-minded. They need to be focused on what’s best for the office and the business, not just for themselves or their little team.
Becoming business-minded is all about UNDERSTANDING the business and what’s best for its growth and success.
To truly understand this, people need to view the business through the eyes of all its employees, see what their roles contribute and the part they play in the business as-a-whole.
If staff aren’t focused on what’s best for the office, then the office may struggle to keep their job! It’s that simple.
Understanding what team members are going through
Most don’t see what other team members go through and let’s be honest, some won’t care one little bit.
We should aim to try to educate each team member and have them understand each role within the organisation, from reception to management. Every role has its upsides and downsides.
It would be nice to appreciate each person’s perspective, to see them as real people and to see their role and their challenges as equally important.
We need to understand the importance of each team member and how they impact the office.
We need to also remember that in a real estate office, sales are usually the most volatile element in building success, but can contribute considerable revenue. When we have a sale that is progressing, we must do everything we can to support that process. Sales are big-ticket commissions in one hit, and we can’t let them fall over. We need to do everything to get them across the line.
Let me say this clearly; it’s not taking anything away from property management to do this. Property management is just as important in that it is the foundation of the office and the asset base of the business, it is often just more stable and reliable then sales so can take more team focus.
When we don’t work to understand our team mates’ contribution and role, it is easy to slip into a mentality that groups different divisions by importance.
What makes people go to hierarchical and almost tribal thinking?
- They feel they are fighting for resources
- They think they are better than others
- They think they deserve more support than others
- Too competitive and they can’t control their competitive nature
- They sabotage other people’s success to make themselves feel better
- Power goes to their head
- Some believe they are irreplaceable
- Some earn more money and treat those that earn less with contempt
- People may think there is unequal power, they have less influence or they have less privileges
- They don’t trust others
What to do if this happens
A leader needs to take control.
Firstly, the leader of an office needs to make sure they aren’t the problem. Sometimes we need to take a good hard look at ourselves first. Whether you are the leader or a salesperson, be honest, do you treat each division different?
Sometimes we give priority to one department over another. Sometimes this is necessary, sometimes it is linked with our personal bias.
For example, one scenario we may see often:
When there is a huge sale pending and something needs to be done NOW… all the resources must be refocused on the outcome.
In a small office, if that means pulling someone out of property management or administration, then sometimes that needs to be done.
It doesn’t mean anything is taken away from the other roles or they are less important. It’s what is the priority NOW.
It’s not the refocusing of resources that can convey hierarchy or importance, it how we actually facilitate that redirection of people — how we communicate what we are doing and why.
Every leader will have their own style, I believe we are always learning how to deal with different personalities and situations.
When approaching a scenario like this, first look at yourself, ask if you really need to prioritise one division over the other. If so, how can you explain it in such a way that lets all divisions know they are equally important, this one division just needs particular focus right now for the betterment of everyone?
We need people like us and we need people different to us. We need people who love working with numbers. We need people who love dealing with people. We need people who love to do the things that we don’t love to do.
When we collaborate, we get more done. We achieve more and it makes life easier.
Sometimes though, others have no empathy and are just too self-centred on their own outcomes.
Sometimes people are given freedom to do as they choose. They have freedom and they are left to their own devices.
On an every-day basis, a leader needs to consider these factors and these personality traits and check in to make sure operations are running efficiently, everyone is happy and feeling valued.
Are you geared for collaboration?
- How is the team set up to help each other?
- Do they refer business between departments?
- Are they rewarded for doing so?
- Do you have joint parties? Joint get-togethers?
- Do they openly and voluntarily communicate?
Does someone need to go?
As you look around the office… how is your culture??
Do you need to EDUCATE or EVACUATE someone who is causing a rift?
Is there one central person that is causing a divide, making it uncomfortable for those who don’t conform to their way?
Work on a problem like this sooner rather than later, foster a culture of collaboration and help every person on your team understand their place and the equally important place of others.