Build Your Team Culture

Real estate teams are normally formed for one of two reasons: as a way to reduce pain, or as part of a well thought-out strategic plan. Both have the cultural challenge of finding a common goal and moving forward as a group—but the pain-formed team is at a huge disadvantage from the beginning. Let’s define both:

A Pain-Formed Team
This type of team comes about when an agent has built up their business and finds buyers to be a drain on their time. Because the lead agent doesn’t want to work with buyers, they see an easy out by forming a team. They hire the first person they can find (who is often a failing agent in their office) and sends them off with a pile of leads, little training and limited support. Shortly after, problems begin to multiply as the buyer’s agent does not succeed (not qualifying leads, limited or no follow-up plans) and the attitude of the agent(s) and the team begin to go south.

A Strategic Team
A strategic team is one that’s born out of a business focused on specialization. A buyer’s agent business plan is developed, and the training plan is clearly defined. A great deal of time is spent on recruiting, evaluating and training the new team member, and a win-win compensation plan and support program is outlined. Daily huddles are held where the team leader removes obstacles to success and supports the growth of the agent. Team-building events like call, script and role-play nights are held. Sales “spiffs” or competitions are designed and implemented as a fun way to build team energy and engage in healthy competition. Weekly sales meetings celebrate success and are used to solve common challenges with the wisdom of the group.

In either team format, the struggle will be how to form and build a culture and support it with daily focus. The focus on growth, development and support for the agent/team from the team leader and support staff will be key. However, the culture battle is often won before the first hire. The level of business planning and the focus on finding hungry, smart and value/behavior fits make the process of success so much easier.

In most teams, a great deal of time is spent working with cultural issues, and the key problem or issue is typically value alignment. If the buyer agent’s goal is to make money at any cost, and the team’s goal is to meet the consumer needs above money, we have a value mismatch that’s going to be difficult to align.

Here are some simple steps to improve a team’s culture:

  • Start with a team business plan and work expectations, and take the time to review all criteria prior to hiring.
  • Develop the buyer agent’s cash-flow budget, which should include returns on closing and sales goals.
  • Inspect what you expect. Hold daily huddles to review daily activities and remove obstacles to success.
  • Hold weekly call, script and role-play meetings to focus on skill growth.
  • Celebrate all the wins. Team members need to win, too.
  • Focus on the numbers. Activities equal results, so track money-making activities ruthlessly.
  • Be a team. Hold off-site events and build common goals.

Allow team members to grow. Remember that with growth often comes new needs. Successful buyer’s agents can reach levels where they need support to help keep them focused on money-making activities.

No matter the reason for the formation of the team, team culture can always grow and continually improve.

Nearly three decades of real estate experience—including 15 years of coaching with Verl Workman—have made Jim Knowlton one of the top agents in the country and one of the most popular coaches on the Workman Success Systems team. In addition to serving as director of Coaching for Workman Success Systems, Knowlton also owned and managed several real estate franchises, earned numerous awards for his performance, and continues to lead a mega-agent team in New Hampshire today. Contact him at For more information, please visit

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