LeadingRE: Conducting Training Like A Maestro
Leadership development is a cornerstone of any training program. If you don’t have a reliable way to groom up-and-coming employees, you won’t have a pipeline of successors to draw from, or executives primed to work with the rest of your employees to achieve corporate goals. At Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE), 2018 was a year to fine-tune and take leadership development to a new level. At the same time, the company dedicated widespread attention to employee advancement with its enhanced agent training curriculum and educational opportunities to improve selling ability. The effort has paid off, with strong recruitment and retention and impressive workforce productivity.
Leading on Leadership Development
“Our MAESTRO Leadership development program has been a powerful, game-changing initiative,” says Dan Nelson, vice president, Performance Excellence. “It filled a void in the real estate industry by providing training for sales managers, essential ‘front-line supervisors.’”
During the development of its Sales Manager Assessment tool, the company identified key performance indicators for sales managers to create the MAESTRO Leadership program. The training is built around three key pillars: Culture, People Development, and Financial Growth.
“In just three years, we’ve achieved 205 percent attendance growth. MAESTRO consists of three in-person, highly interactive three-day workshops covering the three ‘pillars’ of great real estate leadership with a robust, relevant agenda,” says Nelson. Taught by a team of accomplished real estate industry leaders led by leadership coach, Mike Staver, the six-month program includes behavioral assessments tailored for sales managers, assignments and Webinars between sessions, “accountability partner” pairing, ongoing communication/motivation, and extensive resources—all designed to empower MAESTROs to apply what they learn to create effective, tangible outcomes.
“Tight bonds are forged, and students continue sharing with each other and us years after they complete training. We host a reunion of MAESTRO graduates each year at our annual conference for more opportunities to connect, learn, and network,” Nelson points out.
The attention the company has placed on boosting its leadership development has reaped impressive results including:
- Increases of 25 percent or more transactions per agent than the prior year
- 90 to 100 percent retention
- 18 percent or higher increase in net profit at participating brokerages
Supporting Sales Excellence
Engaging a busy, independent sales-force can be challenging, but with the right training approach, you can not only get it done, but get it done with favorable results to show for the effort. “We seek new and innovative ways to keep agents motivated, focused, and developing the skills and actions needed to be successful. Our member brokers are committed to improving the careers and lives of their team members,” says Cecelia Chott, executive director, Institute Content Services. “They understand training is a continuous process and appreciate LeadingRE resources they can deploy to improve agents’ mindset, skill set, and actions. Our diverse membership—small niche, mid-size, and large regional powerhouses—mandates that our training be scalable and flexible with numerous delivery options.”
The company has found sales managers to be the key to successful agent training and created AGENT ACCELERATOR (A2), which it launched in April 2018. It can be considered agent training, but the primary goal is to empower sales managers to deliver impactful sales meetings that strengthen relationships with their agents, build skills, and enhance culture.
“The sales meeting is the culture point of an organization. When the meetings are powerful, people show up, become engaged, speak the same language, and produce better results. It becomes the ‘drumbeat’ and ‘heartbeat’ of an office or company,” Chott says.
A2 consists of 26 annual modules (20 to 30 minutes) with timely, relevant, and current market information featuring Ninja Selling content produced and delivered by LeadingRE. Through the company’s intranet, managers have continuous access to two evergreen modules and two new modules available for unlimited streaming for 60 days. A2 modules include: a 10-minute video, facilitator’s guide, and handouts.
Managers must complete prerequisite facilitator training on the science behind how people learn and effective presentations. Each module contains a learning objective shared upfront, video presentation, discussion, and practice via an exercise or safe role-playing in teams. Agents learn skills or techniques they can immediately apply, increasing knowledge retention significantly.
A2 positions managers as experts who deliver meetings with powerful takeaways for agents. Sales managers are responsible for recruiting and coaching agents, “dealdoctoring,” teambuilding, operations, and profitability. “It is demanding, and finding time to plan/deliver effective sales meetings is challenging,” says Nelson. “A2 is exactly what their doctors ordered, providing valuable education that moves the production needle, and keeps sales associates engaged, performing at their best throughout the year.”
Relentless Recruiting, Plus High Retention
To keep pace with a constant and steady stream of new competitors in real estate, LeadingRE has to stay on top of its recruitment efforts. The company offers recruiting sessions at every conference it participates in, including annual conferences; regional forums; summits; and its own global symposium in Barcelona, Spain. In addition, LeadingRE’s Institute provides numerous online courses on how to present a powerful value proposition, recruiting, and culture. The company also recently hosted two series of Webinars, one for sales associates and one for brokers and managers featuring an expert on newer business models such as iBuyers, and end-to-end real estate portals, with information on how to incorporate them to build success, rather than compete against, or fear, them.
The importance of recruitment and retention is emphasized in leadership development, which also helps LeadingRE’s growth. “We devote a large portion of our MAESTRO Leadership training to building a culture that attracts talent and followers, as well as specifics on recruiting techniques and strategies,” Nelson says. “The managers are immersed in these areas throughout the six-month program. Every MAESTRO graduate leaves with an enhanced understanding and appreciation of the role of culture and value in his or her company and his or her own success. Graduates leave more knowledgeable, skilled, and confident in their ability to recruit, retain, and lead powerful teams.”
The recognition LeadingRE has earned for its learning and development, including its accomplishment on the Training Top 125 list and eligibility for induction into the Training Top 10 Hall of Fame in 2020, also helps bring in new agents. “We constantly promote our No. 1 ranking in the 2018 Top 125 and provide graphics and talking points for member use on Websites, collateral, and during recruiting or retention conversations,” Chott emphasizes. “Access to first-in-class, award-winning training is a competitive edge, especially when backed up with our network production and growth.”
Retention is another important building block of creating a strong workforce. LeadingRE has found learning and development to play an essential role in keeping high-performing employees in-house. The company identifies and nurtures talent with an individual, hands-on, one-on-one approach because its corporate staff is relatively small, and the skills and expertise needed vary significantly by division. It uses employee recognition programs, Lynda.com for 24/7 training in whatever field of interest employees might have, and individual personal development plans.
“Our team members work hard together, and also like to have fun together. They elect peers to an employee advisory council that plans outings, parties, challenges, and monthly breakfasts or other meals to enjoy a little food and downtime with each other,” Nelson says.
There are ample opportunities for career growth as the company cross-trains and evaluates strengths, allowing it to promote internal candidates to existing positions, create new positions when warranted, and/or encourage lateral moves for developmental purposes. Its employee recognition program includes annual awards determined by employee votes such as Employee of the Year and People Developer of the Year (Managers), and quarterly CLEAR awards for staff based on their votes for those who embody LeadingRE’s core values of Collaboration, Leadership, Accountability, Excellence, and Respect.
With leadership development such an essential part of LeadingRE’s approach to training, the company is equally aware that each affiliated brokerage needs to be empowered. “Culture is an integral content component throughout our training programs, and our commitment to quality and independent real estate business models is unique in the real estate industry,” Nelson notes. “LeadingRE’s role is to provide resources and services that support entrepreneurial, locally grown, and respected brands while expanding our global footprint to best position our brokers for cross-border business success. Our tagline—‘I’m Local. I’m Global.’—exemplifies that mindset.”
Collaboration is one of the company’s most important values. Every talent development initiative requires contributions from numerous departments in addition to the Learning team, Chott explains. Departments as diverse as IT, Marketing, Events, Accounting, and Member Services collaborate with trainers to develop and deploy the training resources for the LeadingRE workforce.
Leaders and employees understand they are tasked with not just working together, but working together to attain a high level of achievement. “Commitment to excellence is ingrained in every employee, and is a hallmark across our network. Whether it’s customer service skills training ensuring exceptional experiences, or resources for continuous learning, LeadingRE strives to exceed our previous best performance,” Nelson says.
“We believe every person, regardless of position, is a leader when he or she influences others to achieve better results,” he adds. “From our Board of Directors, comprising renowned industry leaders, to brand-new licensees, and from our president and CEO to our receptionist, all play critical roles because they pursue, or serve, independence and entrepreneurship with dedication and passion.”