Morgan Browne is the President and Co-Founder of Oakwyn Realty, one of Vancouver's fastest-growing brokerage firms.
The real estate business is widely known as one of the most competitive sales environments of all major industries. Media always shows the ruthless side of this industry, showcasing agents competing for clients, listings and sales. Shows like Million Dollar Listing and Selling Sunset propagate this hyper-competitive stigma, which has seeped into the culture of most real estate brokerages as a result.
I started my career as a wide-eyed 21-year-old residential agent, where I faced ageism, sexism and racism more times than I would like to count. Somehow through all the bullying and toxicity, I rose to become one of the top agents in the Vancouver market. As a result of my experience, I became determined to create something different in the Canadian market. It has been a challenge to break down the stigma surrounding the industry and fix the perception of both the public and new agents who come aboard.
Finding these individuals and encouraging collaboration in a sole proprietor business takes time and leadership. To ensure that a team works together, follow these six rules for a collaborative work culture.
1. Be Selective
It is not about growing faster than other people; it's about growing with the right people. The old saying, one bad apple spoils the bunch, is true when it comes to business. In the early days of our brokerage, a top-selling agent in a competing brokerage called us to potentially join our office. We met with him and spoke at length about what his transition would look like. We quickly realized that he would not be able to work collaboratively with our team. The pressure at the time was immense because we were a new company, renovating an office and struggling to pay our staff on time. Ultimately, we decided not to work with that individual and stay true to what was best for our collaborative company culture. If you are unable to work collaboratively with someone, there is little chance that they can grow alongside you.
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2. Establish Strong Leadership
To work effectively as a team, a company must have strong leadership. Having a leader helps establish the workflow and direction of the company and provides consistency and growth among the team. A strong leader will not only pay attention to the interests of the company; they’ll also pay attention to the interests of their team members, leading people to their strengths and ensuring that they have the opportunities to succeed. Being a leader means more than providing direction. It means giving your team the tools and resources to forge the path.
3. Break The Stigmas
Stigmas are the negative attitudes assigned to roles within our society. By allowing stigmas to exist within your company, you are making space for these negative and often false narratives. I believe in breaking the stigma off right at the source — change the narrative and change the habit. Remind your staff that you work as a team and work toward forming new habits. If you see someone returning to old habits, be open to conversation and discussion around the subject. Habit formation takes time. Give your team the time and patience that is required to build new habits to replace the old ones.
4. Celebrate Others’ Success
A team needs to know that their ideas and efforts are noticed. To encourage collaborative work and cohesion in a real estate environment, providing positive reinforcement is crucial. Recognize the wins and efforts of your team by encouraging teamwork and collaborative behavior. People are more likely to work in effective teams when they can recognize the benefits and outcomes of their contributions. By avoiding pitting agents against one another and recognizing their efforts as a team, there can be huge wins for the company as a whole.
5. Establish Core Values
When building a team, it’s important to create a set of core values to focus on. Core values provide a backbone and mantra for the company that employees can adapt to fit their own narrative. One of our values is to put people first. By making this an intrinsic part of the company, we are encouraging employees to make the value their own and apply it to their work ethic. Core values are designed for the company but made valuable by the employees. Whether it’s to be kind or to be inclusive, there are countless ways for core values to encourage employees to take on a more collaborative environment in the workplace.
6. Constantly Share Your Message
Finding ways to share and broadcast your message is a key step in enforcing team ideas, values and intent. I am a strong believer in making use of the platforms available to you, whether it be social media or podcasting, and making it your own. Regularly sharing your message, reinforcing core values and highlighting growth is an excellent way to support your staff and enforce a team mentality. I recommend sharing content from industry influencers and leaders who can help further your message. When it comes to creating team spirit, make it about your community and continue to preach what your company stands for.
Following these rules has enabled me to grow a company that puts its people and community first. Our team has become a close-knit group that works together rather than against one another. As a result, we have been able to share with one another and become more successful as a whole. A company’s main purpose is to change the mold and bring something different to the world. Following these six rules can do just that — ignite change by making one of the most competitive industries take a more collaborative and team-based approach.