Team Collaboration, You Say?

I may be a business owner, but learning to be an effective manager is the hardest part of my job. I can sell real estate all day long. I can make marketing decisions like no one else. I can keep a calendar, schedule meetings, and get more done than anyone I know—but, gosh, sometimes it’s just hard to make “work” a place that everyone on my team wants to be each and every day, myself included.

We’ve had our ups and downs, tremendous frustrations and glorious moments of joy. As a team, we’ve grown, changed and evolved along the way. We’ve seen team members come and go, and I’ve wondered sometimes if I’m not really showing appreciation and respect to those who have gathered around my conference table—and I’ve felt the same about “them.”

So, here’s what I’ve learned: Great team members are hard to find, and to keep the good ones from straying, collaboration is key. Collaboration—the core of teamwork—helps everyone feel valued, and that alone breeds success.

Here are a few tips we’ve garnered along the way:

  1. Include everyone in decision-making. It’s easy to make unilateral decisions, and it’s hard to get everyone’s opinions, especially when they may not be the same as mine. Allowing the team to share the responsibility of the big decisions, though, shows respect for their knowledge, their experience and their opinion—and, it helps tremendously to get their buy-in on the decisions that I alone have to make when I’ve respected their input on others.
  1. Spend time together daily. Time together shows that we care about each other. On our team, we meet daily, five days a week for at least 10 minutes, often longer, to touch base, get input and gain accountability. We also meet one-on-one to set goals, and have longer meetings as an entire team twice a month to problem-solve and make plans. Knowing each other this deeply helps all to feel the strength of our work family.
  1. Spend time together just having fun. Collaboration is enhanced when we know each other outside of work. Hosting annual “Vision Board” nights and inviting family and friends; enjoying wine tastings as a team with top clients without discussing “deals”; or playing “hooky” during the workday to go to Top Golf, a pancake brunch or an escape room bonds us together as friends. Enjoying each other and laughing together brings value to our team way beyond a paycheck.
  1. Challenge each other. When personal responsibility seems to be lacking, or personal goals are not being met, we come up with a team challenge. Each team member decides how they want to be challenged—whether one wants to be held accountable for a fitness routine or for prospecting time, or anything in between—creating a shared Google Drive chart and reporting in to each other daily (with a few prizes thrown in for fun) puts a human face on our team, which enhances our respect and value for our teammates.
  1. Celebrate. On our team, we celebrate big things and little things, and sometimes nothing at all. An appointment with a new group of buyers earns a spin of our prize wheel. Reaching last year’s sales earns an incentive or simply a champagne toast. Birthdays get put on the team calendar on one’s first day on the job. Sharing each other’s special moments takes away a feeling of competition that can breed resentment on a team.

On my team, we are still learning and growing but gaining strength with every daily huddle, every decision made as a group and every celebration. We have the right people in the right places—a task that has taken years to accomplish. Collaborating as a team is getting easier, and my job as a business owner and team leader has become simply more fun. I recommend it.

Sarah Bernard came to real estate from a career in corporate marketing and property management. Licensed in 2014, Bernard sold $6 million in properties with 12 transactions in her first year and was Rookie of the Year. Five years later, she has grown a team that includes three buyer agents and support staff. For more information, please visit

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