Are you planning to start or expand your team in 2022? Take time now to plot out your strategy.
If you hire and onboard new agents too quickly — without a clear plan in place for how they will work together or what type of culture you want to foster — you’re just going to be creating more work for yourself down the line.
In a recent interview with WomanUP!®, a California Association of REALTORS® initiative designed to encourage female leadership in real estate, Nicole Solari shared her top takeaways for building a strong and productive team culture.
1. First decide your role
Before you can build a successful team, you have to understand where you fit into the picture.
Are you going to be the team cheerleader who stays out of production in favor of coaching your agents? The rainmaker who brings in the bulk of the revenue?
“There are so many successful teams out there, and they’re all structured in different ways,” said Nicole, founder of Level Up Realty in Napa. “You need to identify what you want from your role and build the rest of your team around that.”
2. Be slow to hire and quick to fire
One bad culture fit can impact your entire team’s morale and productivity.
“Don’t let someone toxic ruin it for everyone else,” advised Nicole. “If you haven’t been there firsthand, please let me tell you that it’s not worth it to keep someone who doesn’t embrace your core values.”
“It’s not worth it to keep someone who doesn’t embrace your core values.”
– Nicole Solari, founder of Level Up Realty
If you have a toxic personality on your team, don’t hold onto them in hopes things will get better. But the more important takeaway here is to refine your hiring process such that you never wind up with a toxic team member in the first place.
Side’s Agent Recruiting Team relies on tools like the DiSQ assessment when recruiting for Nicole, in order to gain a more thorough understanding of each prospect and ensure Nicole is establishing a well-rounded team.
3. Keep your team connected (even when they’re not together)
These days, it’s easier than ever to build a team that rarely (if ever) gathers together in the same room. But to foster a culture that keeps people engaged, you need to find ways to recreate that sense of togetherness virtually.
Nicole, for one, relies heavily on her company’s group chat for this.
“The sense of camaraderie on there is great,” she says. “It’s not all business, like people will share inspirational quotes and stories each morning or send memes and emojis. It’s clear to see that the people in that chat are so happy to be a part of the team, and that has really helped strengthen culture through the pandemic.”
Nicole also created an online gratitude jar for her team on Google Sheets. Team members can write about what they’re grateful for and then submit it into the jar, where it is automatically shared to group chats or project management portals.
4. Balance the carrot and the stick
“You can lead a horse with a carrot or hit it with a stick,” said Nicole. “I’m a stick person, but chances are you’re going to have both types of people on your team, and you need to find ways to motivate both.”
Nicole makes a point of celebrating her team’s wins — inspiring the “carrots” — while still constantly pushing those goals higher to prevent complacency.
“We have both a virtual gratitude jar and a virtual ‘swear jar,’” said Nicole. “If team members don’t do something they’re supposed to do, there are monetary repercussions — like if they don’t show up to a team meeting, that might be $10 to the swear jar. Then that money goes to a quarterly team-building event.”
5. Accept that you will face setbacks
There’s nothing wrong with trial and error — so long as you’re able to handle and learn from your mistakes.
“I can tell you that I have failed, failed, failed,” said Nicole. “But always forward. I believe that part of being successful is being able to take those failures and learn from them.”
Remember that it takes time to put together a successful team. Some hires won’t work out; some processes will complicate more than streamline.
“You have to give yourself some grace to realize that you can’t snap your fingers and build a team overnight,” said Nicole. “Especially if your goal is to step out of the production, which was my goal, know that it takes a long time to get there. Even now, I’ll still step back into production occasionally when things get really busy or if I lose a team member. Keep your pencil sharpened, because you never know when you’ll have to pivot.”
“You have to give yourself some grace to realize that you can’t snap your fingers and build a team overnight.”
– Nicole Solari, founder of Level Up Realty
Nicole Solari was an independent broker prior to partnering with Side in 2019. She said of the partnership: “It sounds too good to be true, but there’s no bait and switch here. Now that Side is handling my backend operations, I can take weekends off and come home in time to have dinner with my kids. Before, I was on the hamster wheel just spinning, spinning, spinning.”
Hear more from Nicole and why she decided to partner with Side here.