3 Tips for Leading Your Team Out of the Doldrums

At one point or another, every real estate team feels “stuck.” So what can you do to break out of your routine and breathe new life into your team?


The sea held many dangers for the sailors of old. Severe weather, equipment failure, and hostile ships were all causes for worry. But one of the most dangerous parts of the sea held none of those hazards. “The doldrums,” the equatorial region between roughly 5º N and 5º S latitude, was feared because often nothing happened there.

The area, meteorologically speaking, is one of the most stable low-pressure zones on the planet. The more or less constant solar radiation the area receives causes warming air to rise vertically, rather than blow horizontally. This means that often the area has no prevailing breeze. Ocean currents are also calmer here than elsewhere.



In the right conditions, a ship might take weeks or months to make it through the doldrums. Ships stuck in the doldrums ran a significant risk of running out of food and fresh water. As the days slowly passed, cabin fever, scurvy, starvation, and delirium could all set in, sometimes leading to violence or mutiny. Left completely at the whim of the elements, there was nothing to do but wait for wind.

Perhaps your team has felt something like being stuck in the doldrums. Maybe it’s a particularly slow market and you’re not finding sales. Maybe sales are fine, but it doesn’t feel like you’re making any progress toward your goals. Or maybe you’re just in a funk, and coming to work doesn’t feel productive anymore.


Fortunately, unlike a captain whose ship is trapped in a becalmed sea, you do have options for breaking your team out of the doldrums. Here are three.


  • Take a breath.

Building a consistent routine is an important piece of team management. But while routines can streamline operations and boost productivity, they can sometimes get to be…routine. If you’re finding your routine doesn’t have the impact it once did, try making changes to it. This isn’t to say you should scrap it all and start over. Rather, find one or two aspects you can freshen up. 

For example, you shouldn’t stop having a daily huddle. But you could change how those huddles look. Instead of just jumping to team numbers and progress reports, you might take five minutes to do a team-building exercise. Take turns sharing personal milestones, or take an online quiz to learn what Disney princess you are. Taking just a few moments to develop the relationships you have as team members can raise the energy in the office and rejuvenate the atmosphere.


While small changes in routine have their place, it might be time to do something a little more drastic. When was the last time you had fun as a team, totally unrelated to work? Many successful teams plan regular activities together to let the pressure off and enjoy each others’ company. Maybe you could have a monthly night out to try a different taco place, or attend a painting class. You might designate a budget and let a new team member each month plan something enjoyable. These activities don’t have to have anything to do with real estate or even “team building,” apart from your team having a good time together building trust and rapport.


  • Find consistency.

While the doldrums are most commonly known for the inactivity of weather, they can sometimes be dangerously erratic as different weather systems meet and clash. You might be experiencing something similar, with one month testing the limits of your capacity and the next month being a dry spell. If such fluctuations persist, they can seriously dampen morale and lead to frustrating work conditions. 

Rather than waiting for calmer winds to take you to safety, work at creating that consistency by focusing on daily indicators of success. Be sure and prospect every day for at least an hour. Create a plan for regularly following up with your sphere of influence and Top 50. Track every lead you receive, and follow up with them appropriately. The more consistent you are with these baseline tasks, the more even and predictable your business will be, regardless of the market (or the weather).


  • Revisit your business plan.

When was the last time you looked at your business plan? When you created it, you essentially made a map of where you want to go in your real estate business and how to get there. As time passes and your team works toward the goals in your business plan, it’s important to refer back to that plan and adjust your actions to remain on course. It’s best practice to revisit your business plan at least every quarter so you can accommodate changes the business has sustained in that time.

If your team’s goals are eluding you, it might be time to change them. After all, it is a fine line between goals that challenge and goals that frustrate. Say you have a monthly production goal that goes perpetually unmet, and your overall production has stalled out. What other goals or actions could you put in place to supplement your team’s efforts to meet their overall goals? Or, what mileposts could you add on the way to that production goal that the team could celebrate?



When your team is stuck, it’s time to recalibrate your sights based on new information and make adjustments in how you try to motivate your team. Being a leader means creating an environment where each team member can grow and succeed, and if they are faltering, it may be time to re-evaluate your metrics. 


Whatever you choose to do to get your team out of the doldrums, doing something is better than doing nothing. Your team’s spell of boredom or lack of motivation might pass on its own, but there’s no reason you can’t turn it into a period of growth instead of just waiting it out.