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Musings on how brokers can better motivate agents in 2015

In the modern era, old tactics won’t work, so what can brokers do to more effectively motivate agents to produce more?

motivated agents

Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, discusses ways to motivate others. I picked it up because I’ve been considering new and different ways to assist independent contractors (Realtors®) to close more deals, make more money, and focus their time on business-building activities as opposed to the mundane details associated with the real estate transaction.

Daniel Pink’s Suggestions for Motivating Staff

In his book, Pink shares some interesting social experiments. For one, money is not a motivator in most situations. Pink says that money will only motivate people for a certain period of time and has no sustainability for the long haul. Say, for example, that the top agent in your office gets some sort of bonus or the agents who achieve a certain level of production get some other sort of dangling carrot. According to Pink, this type of motivation will not sustain their motivation and provides examples of tests where individuals were motivated to solve puzzles for money as compared to just for fun.

Pink gives lots of examples for ways to run an office and motivate a salaried staff. He recommends a certain amount of autonomy in how work is done, and encourages the staff to be involved in setting the goals.

Perhaps my favorite example from the book is when Pink points out that Tom Sawyer was really quite a gifted motivator. Remember the most famous scene when he is punished and must whitewash the picket fence? Well, do you remember how that plays out? His buddies come by and start picking on him. But when he tells them that whitewashing is fun, he is able to compel those around him to help him get that fence white.

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Tom Sawyer, a Star Motivator

So, how can you apply Pink’s ideas and Tom Sawyer’s mean motivational skills to a group of independent contractors? Since Realtors® control their own time already and since they have a lot of independence in how they run their real estate businesses, how can you help them to get more skin in the game, be the best that they can be, and build bigger businesses?

For me, that is a tough call. I can lead the horse to water but sometimes I cannot make it drink. I can hold weekly meetings, coaching classes and trainings that provide innovation and education so that my agents have the opportunity to be the best that they can be. But, at the end of the day, if they don’t want to participate, I’m challenged. Any exertion of control might deplete their ability to be autonomous.

For the real estate broker, it’s like we are walking on a tightrope and we have limited ability to sway one way or another without falling. For me, the solution is merely to lead by example. By showing that those who participate, attend meetings and embrace new innovations are the ones that are the most successful, my hope is that the others will see that and say “maybe I should do that too?”

Face it, there are lots of really cool ways to build your real estate business in 2015, but you’ve got to be motivated to succeed. Good to know that dangling carrots will not work. But for managing independent contractors, who knows… maybe the best solution would be to hire Tom Sawyer as your Sales Manager?

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Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.


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