Authenticity and culture are buzzwords today as much as “totally” was in the 80’s but it’s had a much longer shelf life than valley girl talk had. I can remember talking about the importance of being authentic with our brokerage “culture” in management meetings in the early 2000’s. It’s just as crucial today as it was then. So why has it stayed so important? I think we all know the answer to that…it’s still an issue to this day. If your culture is not authentically “you” not only do you not attract the right agents but more importantly, the ones that you do attract are tougher to retain. We all know that right, so the next logical question is how do you as a broker create an authentic culture? In order to do that we first need to look at what authenticity means.
Authenticity means being real, genuine, truthful and genuine in our actions and words. It’s not a new concept but it’s one that we often forget about in the “fake it till you make it” world that we live in today. We are told to be ourselves but then are also told that if we don’t fit into a certain mold or act a certain way we will not attract the agents that we want or need in order to financially survive. We see this all the time with social media where people will change their posts and social appearance to look like celebrities or to look more successful than they really are….IT’S NOT THEIR HELICOPTER AND LAMBO and we know it. It’s a rental but they still think they to make a video of them pulling up in front of that $10 Million home that someone else listed! We all know that when you become so focused on being liked by everyone else you can lose sight of your own identity and start appearing to be like everyone else!
Authentic culture can be identified as three things…truthfulness, openness, and respect. Respect for others as well as yourself. More about that in a moment. Truthfulness is about being honest with yourself when assessing what you have to offer to agents who join your brokerage. The more clear you are about what you are willing to do and not willing to do, what you offer, how much it cost you to offer it, and what benefit it will truly bring the clients that your agents work with the better off you will be from retention and productivity standpoint. Don’t be ashamed of what you offer, either embrace it and shout it from the mountain tops or change it. It’s that simple. Truthfulness also means that if you offer boatloads of tools and systems and no one is using them stop offering them and stop bragging about them. If you put it out there that you offer all these things and the agents come on board and then start asking around about who uses what and no one is engaged in your tools they feel duped! So many times agents do not engage in the company-offered systems so if that is you it’s nothing to be ashamed of but you better fix it! You nor any agent wants to pay for a tool and system that isn’t used. That is a big waste of money and more importantly credibility!
You being willing to have real conversations with agents and your staff about how your tools will impact their business falls into the next category of what really makes up authenticity which is openness. Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you are being sold to, of course, we all have been at one time or another? We all accept it as a fact of life, however, that is not the type of relationship you want to have with agents that you expect to produce for the long haul at your company. If they feel they are just being “sold” all the time at some point they will grow tired of always having their guard up. That is where the openness comes in. Openness when building authenticity means that you’re open with agents about how your tools will impact their business, how you will train them to implement and utilize those tools, and how they can leverage time and resources by leaning into what you offer. If the way you present your tools isn’t doing that then there isn’t anything wrong with admitting that is the case and fixing it but you need to act asap. Every day lost not being open about where your systems fit into their business is lost authenticity and it hurts your culture!
The final part of what really makes up authenticity is being yourself which means if who you are on the inside doesn’t match your brand or image then change it! Don’t be a corporate sell out! I’ve talked about this before but if who you are on the inside matches who you say you are on the outside then congratulations, you’ve got an authentic brand! But if who you say and what your brand says don’t match who you really are then fix it now before someone else does! Agents do pay attention to these things, they may not tell it to your face but they do talk about it behind closed doors…just as we all do.
The last category of what makes up authenticity is really the foundation of having an authentic culture. It’s about being transparent with yourself and others about how you believe people should be treated. It’s about respect. It’s about the Golden Rule. It’s about looking at the people around you and saying “what can I do to make them better” and not “how can I use them to make me better”. This is really what defines culture as a whole. It’s about how you treat your agents, vendors, customers, partners, and everyone that your brokerage comes in contact with each and every day.
The best thing you can do to build an authentic culture is to start with yourself. How are you treating everyone around you? If it doesn’t match your values then change it! Don’t let the small stuff slip by either. Those little things are what add up to big things in people’s minds so if there is something that makes someone feel a certain way then address it right away! The longer you wait the more damage it will do and one day it will blow up in your face! Your culture is the culmination of all the little things you do every day regardless if you think anyone noticed.
I hope this has been helpful for some of my readers out there who are looking at building an authentic brand or culture. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I’ll be glad to answer them as best I can!