Is your manager a Prius–or a Pontiac? What’s your manager’s management style? We all know everything has changed, yet, my observation is that many managers are still using old-style management methods.

Father/Mother Knows Best

In the fifties, ‘father knows best’ was the preferred management style. The CEO made the decisions. The agents, the workers, sold real estate. Unfortunately, too, many managers took that top-down management style clear to the doting parent extreme. When you act like the parent, guess what the agents are supposed to act like? The kids. That management style caused a rebellion from agents in the seventies, when they decided they ‘didn’t need a manager’ (a parent) and left the traditional ‘parental style’ management real estate offices for offices promising more independence.

Is Your Manager Trying to Love Them All to Success?

Many managers have taken that parental management style to the extreme in a challenging market. I call this the ‘loving parent’ manager. The ‘loving manager’ dialogue sounds like this: “If I just love them enough they will come back and go to work. I feel sorry for them. I just need to be there for them because times are so tough.”

Unexpected results. There are, unfortunately, negative outcomes from this management style:

1. This style appeals to the non-producer.  Loving agents without standards and accountability bleeds clear into sympathy, and sympathy encourages victimization. And victimization encourages non-action.

2. This style treats adults like little kids. When a three year old skins her knee, we kiss the knee to make it better, and put a cute little band-aid on it to comfort that three-year old. Why are we treating our agents like three-year olds?

3. This style drives producers crazy, lowers their production, and they ultimately leave. A recent study from The Ripple Effect, a Washington , D. C. management training and research firm, asked over 70,000 executives, managers and employees in 116 organizations what kind of impact under performers were having on their workplaces?

Eighty-seven percent said working with a slacker actually made them want to change jobs (retention issues, anyone?). Ninety-three percent said it had hampered their development or decreased their productivity.

Poor producers cause producers to produce less.
Poor producers cause good producers to leave.

My recommendations to managers, to evolve their management style:

a.    Respect each agent as a responsible adult. Have an adult conversation with each agent. Ask that agent if he/she intends to work in real estate? Ask for a commitment to a work plan. After all, this is a business, not a love-fest!
b.    Move your ‘love them into business’ actions toward ‘business love’. Ask yourself: Is it fair that they work in the business to enjoy those commissions they want to earn? Is it fair to expect that they work even half as had as you work? Is it fair to expect that they keep honing their skills, keep getting better? Is it fair for you to expect them to invest in their businesses?

The irony of the ‘adult-style’ manager, foundationed in standards, is that it actually is the kinder of the management styles—by far. Why would we want to keep agents in careers where they were failing? Why would we want to provide sympathy instead of helping them create and implement a plan of action?

My question to you, agents: What’s your manager’s style? Is it helping you reach your goals? Is your manager too ‘easy’? Too ‘hard’? What needs to change to get the management and partnering you need to success at your desired level?

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