In a shifting market change management in your brokerage is a must!
People don’t like change. That’s a given, right? Recent studies done by consulting firms have indicated that less than 18% of organizations truly dislike change. So you are probably asking yourself, then why do I get so much push back when I try to move my brokerage forward? Often it’s not the change but the strategy or path taken to make that change that is the real issue, but more about that in a moment. The unfortunate reality is that change is inevitable in business but especially in real estate because it is such a dynamic sector of the economy. If your brokerage isn’t changing, it probably means it won’t be around much longer. In fact, failure to adapt and embrace new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things will signal the end for most companies sooner rather than later and not just real estate brokerages. Change can have a negative connotation, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing. In fact, many leaders agree that embracing continuous change is one of the best ways to remain successful in today’s volatile business climate.
Agents don’t like change?
As much as 80% of workers report feeling anxious about change, and one-third of employees say they would rather quit than go through an unexpected change. Agents especially feel overwhelmed by the amount of change and the speed at which change happens. It’s pretty obvious why many agents don’t like change. First and foremost, they’re already busy. Next, it’s tough to take time to familiarize themselves with the resources and the tools needed to undertake the change. And finally, very often the changes they’re confronted with don’t seem needed at the time they are implemented. Beyond the obvious and logistics of change, there are other reasons agents get anxious about it. It’s so often accompanied by uncertainty, risk and a feeling of being out of control, which are all triggers for what is already a stressful profession. When people are anxious, they are less likely to be productive. They are also less motivated, have lower self-esteem and are more likely to have a negative attitude on not just the change but their outlook in general.
Okay-Ok, it’s coming; what do I do?
So what do you do about something that is going to happen that no one wants to participate in? Start with understanding that HOW you implement the change is more important that the “perceived benefits” of that change. That means make sure you’re only implementing change that can be clearly understood by every member of your team. Although most of us went along with it I think I can speak for most of my 1980’s generation when I say that we did not like being told “because I said so!” Be careful that you are not treating your agents like kids. Next, try not to force change on people who aren’t ready for it, and if you have to don’t expect people who aren’t ready for it to be okay with it. Instead, start by focusing on those who do want it and make sure they feel supported to make the most of the change. Again, don’t focus all your time on selling the benefits of it. Sell the strategy for making sure it’s a smooth transition for them. If you spend all your time talking about how great the benefits are that everyone will receive and you do not focus on how they will get through the change you may trigger a response that you are not prepared for. “If I have to make a change why not go to a brokerage that is doing things like……….”. This happens, A LOT! Focus on the strategy of change and that will help move the benefits forward with your team. If you do it this way, strategy first, they’re going to feel like they’re being guided through change instead of being told they need to navigate it because it’s best for them. In other words avoid the “it’s the best thing for you because I said so!”
When your culture shifts the change sticks!
If you want to make sure the change sticks, change your culture. What do I mean by that? Well, agents are more likely to adopt and accept change if they feel like it’s coming from the entire organization and not just “the top”. If they feel like the change is backed by the organization, which it should be, then they will be part of an environment of change not a small group telling everyone what to do. If you want to make sure agents adopt your change, do it for a reason that is important to your entire brokerage and your culture will reflect that throughout your company. For example, if you want people to adopt a new way of marketing, do it to stay relevant to your customers. If you want to introduce a new way of managing listings, do it to make sure sellers are better serviced. Those types of changes are things that busy agents can get behind and feel confident supporting. Do it this way and your culture shifts and you will get support from your team quicker and the whole ecosystem benefits.
In so many ways, change can be stressful because it’s inevitable. Change management is not a new concept and there are so many ways to approach it. The real question is, how will you as the broker of an organization manage change so you can normalize it in your business? How can you make it less stressful and more commonly accepted by your agents and staff? The answer is that it depends on your skillset and dedication to making it part of your culture. Developing the skills needed really comes down to three overarching principles that can guide you. The first is that you need to be willing to change yourself not for the sake of change but for the sake of growth. The second is that you need to be willing to develop and focus on a wholistic strategy that your organization can really get behind. The third is that as you review and reflect on the results of your change the reason, benefits, and strategy behind your change may be wrong. If that is the case then guess what, you need to change! No one said it would be easy sometimes it can be hard. If change is hell then just remember what Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”