4 Mistakes When Handling Personnel Problems—and How to Avoid Them

Effective leadership sometimes requires discipline as well as praise. Use these techniques to get to the root of problems with sales associates or employees.

  • Mistake 1: Making superficial judgments. Don’t assume that you understand what’s causing a performance problem. Falling sales could be laziness, but it could also be problems at home.

    • Remedy: Take time to listen. Don't let preconceptions get in the way of understanding what’s really going on.
  • Mistake 2: Making assumptions about what someone means. For example, a sales associate who says he’s “having trouble” getting listings may need more training in effective cold calling, may be avoiding making cold calls because he’s afraid of rejection, or may not have good listing materials that convince prospects to list.

    • Remedy: Ask leading, open-ended questions. Draw the associate out, and make sure you're on the same wavelength.
  • Mistake 3: Relying on stereotypes and past experience. Everyone bases their responses on what’s happened in the past, but just because one solution worked for the last associate who acted a certain way doesn’t mean one size fits all.

    • Remedy: Go over the specifics of the associate’s performance. Walk the candidate back through each part of the sales transaction, including prospecting, doing CMAs, etc., to spot problems, weaknesses, or misconceptions.
  • Mistake 4: Responding based on your "gut feeling." Many people—particularly salespeople—can size people up quickly, but don’t jump to conclusions.

    • Remedy: Don't let your emotional reactions to salespeople—whether you like or dislike them personally, cloud your judgment or your willingness to help them solve problems.

As outlined in Christopher Lee's "Transformational Leadership In The New Age of Real Estate," many comments stifle innovation and could even cause resentment among managers and employees. Avoid these phrases, adopted from the CEL & Associates Inc.:

  • "We can't afford this"
  • "But this wan't in the budget"
  • "Is there a guarantee this will work?"
  • "None of our competitors are doing it"
  • "Let's form about this committee first"
  • "Why change now when we've done it this way for years?"
  • "Let's discuss this later"
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