The staff managing
My staff are hardworking and well-meaning yet our day often descends into something approaching chaos. We need to become more organised and, dare I say it, structured in what we do, particularly now there are fewer of us in the team than 12 months ago. How do we go about it?
A few years ago, I witnessed a snapshot of the life of two estate agency firms in the same town. This was all it took to identify the successful agent from the struggling one.
Picture the scene.
At 8am one Wednesday, I arrived to run a course for an independent agency in the training room above one of its residential sales offi ces. Most of the staff were already there. I was struck by the smart interior and the energy even at such an early hour.
Having got myself – and the training room – organised, I wandered downstairs to witness a team meeting in full fl ow. Staff were discussing yesterday’s successes and today’s challenges with enthusiasm.
Everyone seemed involved and alert. They were busy making notes on various points of action.
I then went outside to get some air and pick up a newspaper. En route to the newsagents, I happened to pass another estate agency offi ce, at 8.30am. Two members of staff were in the front offi ce. One was reading a tabloid daily and the other was putting on his tie.
It will probably come as no surprise that when I took a drive around the area later that day, the initial agent clearly held a dominant market share within the town in question. In fact, on a recent return visit, I discovered that the second agent has ceased trading.
For any manager in our challenging industry, a wellrun, daily team meeting makes a massive difference to productivity.
Yet many fail to bother, while others merely go through the motions because superiors have told them to.
Managers have such huge challenges in their role, not least because they are often responsible for a large chunk of the front line sales business that needs to be achieved. After listing all the areas of responsibility of an effective manager on a recent course, the delegates came up with more than 30 separate suggestions about implementation.
Of course, a structured daily meeting is not the answer to all a company’s problems but it helps managers to achieve their goals successfully.
You can define management as “the art of directing physical activities and human resources in the attainment of predetermined goals”.
There is no better time to undertake such an art as in a team meeting. An agenda is essential to ensuring all key areas are covered and must include a review of yesterday’s activities and new business opportunities in terms of valuations, instructions, applicants, viewings and sales, as well as team input into problems and challenges faced either as a group or by individuals.
This agenda results in a natural flow of objectives for the day ahead, which can be discussed and issued to the right staff. The manager can then record these objectives and, more importantly, be seen by the staff to be doing so, to ensure they subsequently monitor progress during the day and at the close of business.
Employees benefit from a clearly defi ned set of daily goals, as they will be focused on those tasks and motivated to achieve them throughout the day.
The staff are also more likely to ensure those objectives are met, given that they know there will be a review of success or failure at the next meeting.
Sales can be created in this environment, as valuers describe yesterday’s new instructions to salespeople who come to the meeting equipped with a list of their hot buyers.
A review of new applicants for whom nothing on the available list seems suitable may prompt a colleague to suggest a less obvious alternative from the withdrawal list or lettings portfolio.
Team members can also provide valuable input and alternative angles to their colleagues’ problems, leading to a plausible but previously untried solution.
Commencing each meeting early enough in the day will minimise interruption, though as long as one member of staff is allotted the task of dealing with incoming enquiries, then the rest of the team can concentrate for the duration of the session.
A manager needs to adhere to the timeless cycle of planning, monitoring and checking. Without these team meetings, the fi rst part of this process is at risk and will automatically jeopardise the other two.
Time that is spent on an effective morning meeting will doubtless be the best investment in a manager’s day.