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Technology as the new rat race – looking busy, 2011 style

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If technology were a car engine…

First off, don’t let the title fool you into thinking that when it comes to high tech, that I have a clue — for the most part I don’t. I’ve admitted for years that I’m President for Life of Techtards Anonymous. Truth be told though, I’m rowin’ in a pretty big boat on that count. Most of us don’t understand the various technology we use in our every day work, any more than we can rebuild our cars’ engines. Either the software/hardware does what we got it to do, or it doesn’t — right? Right.

In the experience of the majority in the real estate business the attitude about software is that it either falls woefully short of promised results, or fails miserably. And before the techies get their panties in a bunch, we all realize sometimes it’s operator error. But really guys, the real life results of software designed for Realtor use has generally been, um, less than impressive.

Most of the CRMs out there are laughable, especially when the user actually, you know, is a producing agent. Then there’s the love affair with IDX, which has for the most part, failed epically for the vast majority adopting it as a lead generator.

Oh, did I use the most overused, under delivering phrase in the industry? Yep, that’d be ‘lead generation’. What a crock. Most so-called lead generation ‘services’ succeed in generating business leads for themselves and not much more. Ouch. It’s been a racket since the first Realtor bought a desktop computer. Yet, relying on Barnum’s axiom as worked well for those bankin’ on real estate agents’ penchant for dodging anything approaching real work.

The high tech rat race

Discount the exceptions to the rule, who’re pilin’ up impressive bank using IDX. As a percentage of the agent population whole, they’re barely measurable. Techies don’t like guys like me sayin’ that out loud, mostly cuz they’re aware, painfully so, of its validity.

For generating real estate business, unless you’re talkin’ about blogging, social media is the most oversold, overrated, underperforming tool for Realtors since, well IDX. Back in the day, when I first reported to a real estate office, ink still dryin’ on my license back in 10/69, shuffling 3X5 cards was how you fooled yourself (and those watching) into thinkin’ you were working. Now it’s social media.

Meanwhile, the agents really closing escrows are doin’ things resulting in them finding themselves belly to belly with someone who might tell them to go to hell. But, hey, your FB wall was tagged so it’s all good. Somehow that’ll lead to tons of new biz, right? Tell me — how’s that been workin’ out for ya lately? Big ouch.

Next month will mark my 42nd anniversary of being licensed. I continue to do what I do cuz I’m addicted. Otherwise I’d be crazy. In all those years, all those economies, all the ‘sea changes’ that have come and gone? Not much has changed, people. Technology has served only to allow brokers/agents to screw up more quickly and, in some cases more epically. Am I anti-high tech? No way.

I’ve embraced it…

…to the extent it produces measurable results. The CRM I use is, in my humble opinion, the best there is, and there’s no #2 I’ve seen. I blog. My company’s website has an IDX so my family and local buds can use it at their will. Sure, I have plans in the near future to make use of ‘coming new IDX breakthroughs’, but will believe the results when I see my banker’s smile. No offense to my good friends who’re designing these changes, but the next IDX that produces to a greater extent than 5% of it’s users will be the first. Another ouch.

My Suggestions

1. Hi tech should only be viewed as a tool, period. It’s marketed the same way toothpaste is, as sexy, but stop believin’ ’em. Most software Realtors buy simply falls treacherously short.

2. There are only two questions to ask about any, pardon the expression, high tech ‘solution’ you’re considering.

A) Will it directly or indirectly help me get in front of more folks who might tell me to go to hell?

B) Will it save me time, enabling me to do more of ‘A’?

Of course, the best answer is that it’ll do both.

What makes a survivor?

We’ve just gone through another periodic and painful cleansing of real estate agents/brokers. If you’re still puttin’ yourself in the arena every day, ask yourself the common denominator attached to the full time survivors. Could it be that they’re workin’ hard? Could it be they understand it’s the agent in the mirror producing the results and not the latest social media magic, or software sprinkled with magic dust?

When it all boils down, those who consistently produce bankable results are those who put their bellies in front of other bellies who might tell them to go to hell. Then again, they might ask ’em where to sign. It’s all about being in the arena yourself. In the end, that buyer or seller is lookin’ you in the eye, cuz you’re the one into which they’re putting their trust.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Richard

    September 19, 2011 at 5:39 am

    You're on point. With all the technology there is today, nothing out there beats the return on your investment than face to face. Everything else serves as validation (most of the time not required) after face to face.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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