I couldn’t begin to estimate how many times real estate agency leaders have commented about another team saying something along the lines of, “She is lucky – she’s got a great team”.
It’s almost as though they think that all you need do is stick your head out the window and whistle, and winners will come running. You don’t whistle for winners, and luck has nothing to do with building a winning team. MORE
The first step to building a great team is to commit to doing so. It requires hard work over several years to develop a team of peak performers.
After commitment come systems. Your recruitment program must be systemised, methodical, and stringent.
It’s crucial you get this right. You can lose a lot of money very quickly by paying salaries to salespeople who don’t make it. Your recruitment process must help you identify likely winners and reduce the risk of hiring those who won’t make it.
And if you think that commission-only is the best option, let me ask you one question: “How has this worked for you so far?”
Attracting commission-only people is no easy task. Unless they are competent, write great figures (most don’t), and are paid a fair split on the commission – a split that allows you to cover expenses and still make a profit – you will lose money on them, too.
If you want to build a winning team, don’t think hiring, think RECRUITMENT.
The Business Dictionary defines hiring as:
The act of giving someone a job; an employer taking on a new employee.
Building a team of competent winners requires more than that.
Here’s the definition of Recruitment:
The process of finding and hiring the best-qualified candidate for a job, from within or outside the organisation, in a timely and cost-effective manner. It includes analysing the requirements of a job, attracting candidates to that job, screening and selecting applicants, hiring, and integrating the new employee to the organisation.
Recruitment is a systemised process that weeds out unsuitable applicants and assists in selecting those who are most likely to make it.
Here are the elements of a successful recruitment system for real estate salespeople:
If you are too busy selling real estate, you will ignore recruiting, recruiting systems, and leading the team. This is sure way to build a mediocre team, if indeed you build a team at all.
Would you take on a seller and not nurture that relationship, consciously moving the listing toward a sale?
Then why would you take on a recruit and not nurture that person, working him or her toward greatness?
You don’t whistle for winners. But they are out there, waiting for you to attract them.
Leaders often think that the cost of having an incompetent salesperson on the team is the wage paid to that person. But there is a lot more to lose. The salary is just the beginning.
Let’s say you pay $50,000. In Australia you add 9.5% superannuation so now you’re at $54,750. For this exercise we’ll ignore payroll tax and other on-costs. MORE
Business lost through incompetence
Now let’s look at loss through incompetence. Is it reasonable to expect that an incompetent salesperson will lose 1 listing a month? That’s conservatively 6 sales lost per year. At an average selling fee of $15,000, that’s $90,000 per year. Add that to the lost salary and now your losses are $144,750.
In 1993, the average production of a salesperson was $135,000. In 2019, despite a recent boom, there was no evidence that it was much higher. It’s fair to say that incompetence is alive and well!
It is easy to dismiss these losses because you never see the money. Only the salary is money that you had, and then paid to your incompetent salesperson. You never had any of the other money, hence the tendency to not take it into account.
But you’d better believe that this is real money, even if you didn’t get it.
Imagine I walked into your office with a briefcase containing $145,000. I tell you that this money is all yours at the end of the year, BUT I will be deducting the equivalent of one selling fee every time I detect business lost through incompetence by one of your salespeople.
A salesperson walks into the office after two hours on a listing appointment. “Did you get it?” you ask? He replies, “No, but I’ve got a good relationship with them. If they list with anybody, they will list with me”.
And right then, I reach into your briefcase and remove $15,000. Would you believe then that incompetence is costing you real money?
This is the point – money you had, but lost, always hurts more than money you missed out on, but never saw. It’s the same money, and it buys the same things, IF you can get it.
Four incompetent salespeople can easily cost an agency $600,000 in expenses and lost income. Do you want some of this for yourself?
Then train your people. Make incompetence a thing of the past in your agency.
Struggling salespeople – we’ve all had them. They can be frustrating, and they can cost your company a lot of money. So how do you know whether to persist with them or fire them?
In 25 years as a real estate agency profit consultant, I have seen entire teams of strugglers who fail to reach an acceptable performance.
Why do leaders keep such people? Some leaders wrongly believe that inconsistent or poor performance is just the way it is in Sales. But I can show you many Pittard clients who have incredible teams of happy, peak performers. MORE
You can have this too, with some systems, leadership and determination. Poor performance is not a fate accompli. You can – indeed you must – do something about it.
The key to dealing with strugglers is to know which ones you have a chance of turning around. There are only two types of salespeople: the right people and the wrong people.
Identifying the right and the wrong people is easy.
The right people:
The wrong people are the opposite. These must go. You will never turn these people around, so don’t waste your time trying.
Four steps to turn around struggling salespeople
When you have identified the right people and removed the wrong people, it’s time to begin the turnaround.
First, get your struggler to train hard. Help them set a study program designed to improve their areas of weakness.
If they have difficulty listing, work on their listing presentation. If they have trouble coming to the point, drill them on succinct communication.
Second, test their knowledge. There is no point increasing their level of actions (step three) if they can’t do them competently. Constantly test them on what they’ve learnt.
Are you seeing improvement? If not, they either aren’t studying, or they aren’t absorbing. Either way, you have gone as far as you can go with this person and it’s time to terminate their services.
As their knowledge improves, so will their results, but this is only half the battle. You must increase their actions. This is Step Three.
Get them working hard on the right actions. Work with them to formulate a plan. Get their commitment to follow the plan.
All salespeople, but especially rookies and strugglers, must have a plan and must follow it. They must know where their business will come from, particularly where they will find their listings. How many people do they need to speak with to get one listing?
Some listing sources produce better results than others. You could make 150 cold telephone calls to get a listing, or if you prospect on a busy road, you might get one listing for 70 calls. Help your strugglers identify the warmest listing sources and have them work those sources.
Fourthly, monitor their actions. Are they following the plan? If so, persist with them. If not, terminate. Never pay wages to people who will not do what they said they would do.
Turning strugglers isn’t a complicated process, but it does require the leader to act. Don’t accept poor performance as ‘just the way it is’.
If I can be of assistance, please do let me know.
To maximise profit, two of the leader’s most important roles are Talent Scout and Coach.
In my 25 years as a real estate agency profit consultant, one of the greatest ‘sins’ I’ve seen leaders commit is holding onto the wrong people for too long – often despite their better judgment.
When an underperforming team member leaves, or is eventually fired, I’ve lost count of how many times the leader has said, “I should have done this long ago”. MORE
An Arabian proverb says, “When the horse you are riding dies, get off!” If you believe you have the wrong person on your team, you should heed this advice.
The easiest way to detect whether a poor performing salesperson has any hope of reversing this trend is to ignore their words and look at their actions.
Some people are not teachable. Some will not do the actions required by their job descriptions. Keeping these people on your team will lose you the respect of the good people. If you can’t turn these people around, it’s time to put your energy into finding the right people. It’s time to put on your ‘Talent Scout’ hat.
One reason leaders persist with wrong people is because they don’t have anybody to replace them. That’s why good leaders are constantly looking for winners, the right people to join the team.
Once they find good people, they induct them into the company the right way, with induction systems designed to train the person and get him or her productive almost immediately. Culture and action are taught, and standards set. Ongoing monitoring is implemented. All team members know that they are accountable for the actions they are expected to complete.
The leader then moves into the role of coach, working with the team to bring out the best in each person.
These leaders always remain on the lookout for prospective winners. In the best offices, there is always room for a winner but there is no room for a mediocre person with a poor attitude.
I am not suggesting ‘Churn and Burn’, which some ruthless leaders are known for. I do suggest, however, that you quickly part company with people who will not meet your standards of culture, training, presentation and activity, and find salespeople who will.
Many leaders do not have hiring problems; they have firing problems. And because of this, their teams contain people who have little hope of success.
Be a talent scout and coach. Then tell me if your profits don’t soar!
When the market turns down many agency leaders wisely cut expenses. But there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Cut the wrong expenses and you will quickly lose profit.
Some expenses can be cut without affecting your income. We call these ‘fat’ expenses. Things like publications you don’t read. Stop expenses like this and you will be more profitable. MORE
Other expenses are ‘muscle’ expenses. Cut these and you will lower your income. Marketing is one such expense. Downturn or not, cut down on marketing and you will miss out on listings and new managements. Marketing is a classic muscle expense.
The best offices Pittard® works with are ‘marketing machines’. You can set your watch by the precision of their marketing. They are little marketing factories.
There are three ways to market your business and, as the leader, it is ultimately your job to ensure that marketing in these three areas is a regular occurrence.
Print covers leaflets and direct mail. The best offices regularly cover their service area with leaflets (preferably delivered under doors and not into letterboxes) and direct mail – letters hand-delivered by walkers. (Post is too expensive). Direct mail is personally addressed, with as few generic greetings as possible.
Blanket your service area with some form of print media every month.
Digital marketing is email, SMS and social media marketing.
The best offices regularly hit their clients’ email inboxes, phones and social media channels with good information that their clients will want to read. Home Alerts with new listings are always of interest to buyers. Current market information interests property owners, investors and buyers.
This is face-to-face or voice-to-voice marketing.
The best offices stay in touch with clients and potential clients by phone or door prospecting, and regularly follow up all leads.
Follow your own advice
How often have agents told sellers at listing presentations, “You can’t afford to keep your property a secret”?
We should follow our own advice. Our agency shouldn’t be a secret either.
Profitable offices don’t keep themselves a secret. They market constantly.
Always be sending out good messages to your client base. Make your office a marketing machine.
You can starve waiting for word-of-mouth to bring you sufficient business to achieve your profit goals.
PS Pittard periodically broadcasts a webcast entitled How To Make Sales In a Tough Market. This webcast is free and designed for agency principals. It is by invitation only, as we cannot accept some agents owing to contractual obligations to our current members. For more information and to check your eligibility, please follow this link.
With another financial year behind us, it’s a good time to ponder: “Are you happy with your profit?”
Stating the obvious: Profit is the money you keep after expenses are paid. I’m compelled to mention this because the real estate industry and its systems focus on turnover. Turnover is not profit. MORE
Profit is seldom mentioned in typical real estate training.
So, are you focused on profit? If not, you should be.
There are two ways to increase your profit.
The first is to grow your business – increase income.
Without money, you have no funds to grow your business. Growth needs cash, and if you want to build a winning team, which will give you more profit and more free time, you need money to do so. It is far smarter to grow from profit than it is from borrowings.
My friend, Dave Anderson, author of Up Your Business, says, “You cannot shrink your way to Greatness”.
Building a team requires a foundation of intent and purpose. Set up attraction systems to increase your incoming hiring enquiry. Set up sorting systems to help you determine the winners and eliminate those who won’t make it. Set up training systems to bring out the best in your people, and set up induction systems to get your recruits off to a flying start.
Also set up sales management systems to keep the team focused on results over the long term.
Don’t have those systems? Pittard does. Let me know if we can give you a hand.
The second way to increase your profit is to reduce expenses.
Know your Break Even Point (BEP). How many sales do you require to break even?
Profitable businesses are built on a platform of solid financial foundations. The most fundamental of all financial foundations is to know the point at which all expenses are covered and you begin to make profit.
To maximise your profit, you should do both – increase your income and reduce expenses.
Sometimes leaders are too busy listing and selling to focus on profit. The trouble is, you can be busy bringing income into the business while large sums go out.
It’s like filling a bucket with holes in it: you pour the water in at the top, only to have it leak out at the bottom.
Think profit. May your next financial year be profitable!
PS Pittard periodically broadcasts a webcast entitled How To Make Sales In a Tough Market. This webcast is free and designed for agency principals. It is by invitation only, as we cannot accept some agents owing to contractual obligations to our current members. For more information and to check your eligibility, please follow this link.
This is a two-part article on the Do’s and Dont’s of hiring. Last month, we discussed the Hiring Don’ts. This month we look at the Hiring Do’s.
If you hire somebody with a bad attitude, this will poison your team. Author of Winning the War for Talent, Mandy Johnson, says that people with bad attitudes are hardly likely to suddenly develop a good attitude once they join your company.
Frame your questions around testing attitude, for example, “Can you give me an example of what you think is a good work ethic?”
The worst way to hire salespeople is to use the typical industry hiring system: poach your competitors’ salespeople. This opens the ‘revolving door of mediocrity’.
If you examine the average production of typical industry salespeople, you will find that it is still around $135,000 per annum. Despite selling fees quadrupling in many areas, the industry production average is still at 1993 levels! So, you would have to be forgiven for thinking that the average industry salesperson lacks skill.
Don’t be afraid to hire inexperienced people. If you have sound hiring and induction systems, chances are that you will get an inexperienced person up to winning levels faster than you will with a typical experienced person currently doing the rounds of real estate offices. That’s IF you have sound hiring and induction systems.
Inexperienced people will not be able to demonstrate skill in real estate sales, because they aren’t in the industry. But they will demonstrate skill in their current industry, and they will demonstrate teachability, a willingness to learn. From that you can deduce whether they will learn all they’ll need to know to become skilled in real estate sales.
Your questions should be targeted at uncovering current skills and willingness to learn.
People who say that they are a ‘team player’’ or a ‘people person’ have just given you a junk statement (see hiring don’ts in the last issue). Their CV will give you a clue as to whether they are a team player or a ‘people person’ as they claim.
Look at their employment history. If they have been in the one position for several years, they probably got along with their colleagues and bosses. But if they have hopped from job to job, it’s likely they have personality defects and don’t get along with people. You don’t want this type in your company.
To build a winning team, you need good people of integrity. You can teach them everything else if this is their character foundation.
By this I mean past performance in any endeavour. They may have started off working in a supermarket stacking shelves and risen to store manager. They may have captained the netball team.
Parents who have taken time out of paid work to raise a family will be able to demonstrate a record of performance. Perhaps they headed the school fundraising efforts or were active on the P&C. Ask questions – there will be a history of achievement with the right people.
Yeah, sure – they’re brilliant. They say they will work hard, fit in and are willing to learn. Experience hirers have heard it all before.
Nobody will tell you at the interview that they are lazy good-for-nothings who hate authority, don’t get along, and who do just enough to get by. Nobody will tell you that they’re too scared to prospect, or that they never commit to anything that looks like hard work. But have you ever hired people like this?
Don’t take their word for it. Ever.
Test their dedication to learning with a pre-start knowledge test based on your sales systems. Test their willingness to prospect with two days’ paid work experience. After they start, and before they become permanent, test their knowledge again, and test and monitor their actions during their trial period.
Mediocrity can’t hide from leaders who test their candidates, and who regularly test their established salespeople.
In last month’s issue we said, “Don’t wing it”. This means that you must prepare when hiring, and you must have clear induction systems designed to make your new recruit dollar-productive as quickly as possible (in their first month).
Prepare interview questions, prepare tests, prepare start-up strategies, prepare monitoring systems, prepare coaching systems.
You can waste a lot of money in wages paid to people who don’t make it. The better your systems and preparation, the greater chance you have of developing winners.
Remember that you cannot shrink your way to greatness. When the market is being described by your competitors as tough, that is the time to grow your team.
Keep your marketing for winners constantly running as you do with your listings marketing. You want to be talking to sellers about selling and talking to potential winners about joining your company.
The more enquiry, the greater your chances of finding winners. Keep looking. Never give up.
Freedom of Choice
Freedom of Choice means having the freedom to work, or not to work, in your business. To be able to step back and enjoy more free time, and to have money to enjoy that time, you need people to run the store in your absence.
Developing a team is the best investment of time and money a leader can make. Get your hiring and induction systems right and you’ll never look back.
PS Pittard periodically broadcasts a webcast entitled How To Develop Great People. This webcast is free and designed for agency principals. It is by invitation only, as we cannot accept some agents owing to contractual obligations to our current members. For more information and to check your eligibility, please follow this link.
This is a two-part article on the do’s and don’ts of hiring. In this issue, we will discuss Hiring Don’ts. Next month we will cover Hiring Do’s.
First a question: Do you believe successful hiring is an art or a science?
Many real estate agency leaders will say that hiring is an art. Without effective hiring and induction systems, they’d be right. But with systems, you have more certainty of finding and developing winners, moving hiring from art to science. MORE
To give your hiring increased effectiveness, here are some Hiring Don’ts.
In many areas of your life, you probably are a good judge of character, but when hiring you are dealing with people who are trying to impress you. Many will say the right things. And you don’t spend enough time with them to form a character assessment with any accuracy. Belief in your good judgement of character can blind you to clues you may have detected had you been more open minded.
I couldn’t manage another me, and I doubt you could manage another you!
You are looking for somebody who can be trained into a winning salesperson. They may not be as good as you, but can they be trained into a winning salesperson? That’s all you should focus on.
Prepare before you phone applicants. Prepare before you interview. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
The number one cause of high turnover of salespeople is the absence of a hiring system for attracting, sorting, interviewing, testing and inducting candidates.
Hiring systems keep you on track and, most importantly, get recruits started off right. Developing systems as you go reduces your chances of having your new salesperson pay his or her way quickly.
You might think you are saving by not investing in a hiring system, but you’ll spend a lot more in lost wages.
You are interviewing a candidate, not the other way around. Interviewing is like a sale – you are better off asking questions than you are making statements.
Too many statements mean that you are talking about you and your company. You want the candidate to open up and convince you on why he or she is right for this position.
Ask questions and listen. Secondary questions are very important.
You can ask questions to uncover the attributes you expect your candidates to exhibit (see Part 2 next month, Hiring Do’s) and you may find evidence that this person will be a winner. If you rely on gut feel, your emotions will cloud your judgment.
Gut feel has its place, but it’s a better tool for firing than hiring.
The idea is to move people through your hiring system as smoothly and quickly as possible. Decide quickly. Winners won’t wait around too long.
If you are desperate for staff, you will probably make the wrong decision. Keep only quality people on your team. Seek out quality people to join your team.
A junk statement is any statement that sounds good but provides no real information. An example is, “I’m a team player“.
Statements like this should raise a red flag. Can they prove it?
When you detect junk statements like this, question further. “You say you are a team player. What does that look like to you?”
A second question: “Can you give me an example of a project you were working on as part of a team, your contribution to that project, and a specific example of how you worked with the team to bring that project to completion?”
A third question: “When I ask your referee about your contribution to the team, what do you think he (or she) will say?”
Drill down. Ask for evidence. The candidate will know that you are serious about finding the right person. The good ones will appreciate your questions. The wrong people will shuffle awkwardly.
This not a definitive list of Hiring Don’ts but if you address the issues in this list, you will greatly improve your chances of sorting the winners from the wrong people.
Next month we’ll look at Hiring Do’s, in Part 2 of Hiring Do’s and Don’ts.
Here in the digital world of the 21st century, let’s give some thought to happy client reviews and, in particular, how we use them.
Some salespeople appear to be more interested in seeing their ‘names in lights’ on sites like the major property portals and Rate My Agent.
Less, if any, attention is given to Google and Facebook. MORE
When a client searches your salesperson’s name online, they probably use a Search Engine, and it’s probably Google.
Try it out – ‘Google’ your salesperson’s name:
Do the top search results point to your agency’s website, or to realestate.com.au, ratemyagent.com.au or similar site?
Your agency website or a personal profile website controlled by your agency should be at the top of the search, otherwise you are handing over search prominence to third parties. That’s never a smart thing to do.
Give thought to putting focus on getting Google and Facebook reviews elicited directly from happy clients.
Two years ago, a Pittard client in Queensland began a quest to have 100 Google Reviews on his website. To make it easier for salespeople and clients to do this, Pittard designed the Rate-Us quick links for Google and Facebook reviews.
Recently, the leader told me, “I got two listings last week where the clients told me that they called me in because of all my good reviews on Google”. For the effort came the reward.
All this cost the leader was a bit of effort, and a lot of diligence and follow-up. Every listing and sale his salespeople made, the leader asked the question, “Where is the Review?” Eventually the team got the message and asking for reviews became a discipline.
The focus on Google and Facebook reviews begins with the leader. We make the decision, we convince the team how important it is, and it is up to us to follow up to ensure that asking for reviews becomes a discipline.
From focus comes consistent results: Listings, sales and profit.
Don’t allow your salespeople’s profile to fall into the hands of others outside the agency. Take control and get reviews in your own right.
Direct enquiry to your website. After all, you own that!
PS Pittard periodically broadcasts a webcast entitled How To Make Sales In a Tough Market. This webcast is free and designed for agency principals. It is by invitation only, as we cannot accept some agents due to ourcontractual obligations to our current members. For more information and to check your eligibility, please follow this link.
Many offices struggle and so do their salespeople.
In the nineties, salespeople wrote on average $135,000 in fees. Since 2010 we have seen little evidence that this average has changed much, despite selling fees trebling over that time and markets booming in many regions. MORE
Pittard salespeople are well trained – they are inducted with a solid foundation of training, testing and practical work experience prior to them being appointed permanently to the sales team.
Yet, despite this training, we still see that salespeople need a coach. Left to their own devices, many salespeople will drift toward the easy tasks, those tasks that do not put them at risk of facing rejection, tasks that are usually low on productivity.
All salespeople, but particularly those who have not yet reached winner status, need a coach. And the person best placed to coach salespeople is their leader.
Keith Rosen, author of Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions, released his latest book, Sales Leadership in late 2018. He surveyed business leaders and asked what values they compromised most due to the pressure to perform.
Instead of compromising in these areas, would your business be more profitable if you embraced these values and stepped up to the duty of coaching? You know it would!
Myth of micromanaging
People often say, “I don’t want to micromanage my people”. I say, “Why not?” Some people need micromanaging.
When salespeople are new, they need to be micromanaged. And this micromanagement must continue until they reach a minimum performance standard – in Pittard offices, that’s $300,000 in gross fees. After that level, they don’t need to be managed as closely.
Coaching sessions must never be about pointing out what the person being coached is doing wrong and what he or she needs to do to remedy the situation. That’s lecturing, not coaching.
Good coaching begins with a clear goal, what is to be achieved from the coaching session, a clear agenda to give structure to the session and clear agreement that the actions uncovered during the coaching session will be followed.
The coach leads by asking the right questions, rather than offering opinions – the coach ‘draws out’ the actions necessary for improvement instead of forcing the coach’s ideas of the right actions onto the person being coached. Good coaching is collaboration, not lecturing.
Leaders who have attended Pittard’s Agency Profit System® have a Training & Coaching manual packed with plenty of tips to turn a leader into a coach.
I recommend that all leaders read Sales Leadership by Keith Rosen. I guarantee that it will help you to become a better coach.
The reward will be a happier and more effective sales team, you will feel more fulfilled as a leader, and your agency will be much more profitable.
That’s a win for everyone!
Leaders often complain that their salespeople won’t do the right actions. It’s one of the biggest complaints that leaders make. They fear putting pressure on their salespeople to do the right actions out of fear they will leave.
These leaders have no control, and without control they will never develop winning teams.
A large part of this problem stems from the reward structures these agencies use – commission-only definitely, but debit-credit is no better. When salespeople are in credit, they are fundamentally the same as commission-only salespeople. In their minds, they work for themselves and will resist leaders asking them to do any actions they don’t want to do (like prospecting). MORE
Reward schemes aside, as an agency leader, if you can’t establish control you can’t direct your team to do the actions that will make them, and the agency, successful. Effectively, you will be a leader without followers!
The way I see it, sales is not a democracy. If you are going to call yourself a salesperson, whether paid by commission or by salary, you must do the actions required of the role. All salespeople use up offices resources and all must pay their way. The right actions make salespeople more profitable.
What consequences are there in your office when salespeople won’t do the actions?
Are you prepared to terminate those who won’t do the actions? Are you afraid to do so because if they leave you have nobody to replace them? If you think of this way, think about this:
No people are better than the wrong people!
Are you prepared to hire, to look for those who will do? A good hiring system is an antidote to salespeople who won’t do the right actions, in ample quantities, consistently over time. If you can’t change your people, change your people.
What would you do if the receptionist refused to answer calls because he or she were ‘too busy’? Would you find another receptionist?
Why should sales be any different?
In many offices, it is different, but why? If you develop the mindset that salespeople in your agency are going to do the actions, or you’ll find somebody who will, you will be one step close to taking back control of your agency.
A word of warning, however. If you start, be prepared to follow through. You may have to do plenty of hiring as you weed out the “Won’t do’s” and replace them with the “Will do’s”.
The reward will be a more profitable agency and a lot more enjoyment of your leadership role.
The right people do that for you!
You may have read about the highly publicised court case in South Australia where Harris Real Estate and agent Arabella Hooper were ordered by the court to pay $750,000 in damages. The judgment cited that after leaving Toop & Toop for Harris Real Estate, Hooper used data to develop business using data taken from her former employer.
It’s refreshing to see that the courts are now taking data theft seriously, but if you find yourself overly concerned with this, ask yourself, is data theft a disease, or is it merely a symptom? MORE
Sure, data theft is serious, but there could be some underlying issue that is more serious.
To illustrate, think about this environment:
Many years ago, I visited an agency and noticed a dot matrix printer (I said this is was many years ago!) that periodically burst into life and printed a quick line then stopped. A few minutes later it did the same thing. It did this for the entire time I was at this office. I asked the leader what this printer was doing. I was told that it recorded every outgoing call, “So we can check on who the staff is calling”.
This air of suspicion pervaded the whole agency. Later, I conducted a sales meeting with the team and asked a salesperson, “What do you have cooking?” I was asking him about the sales he was working on. He replied, “I’m not telling you!” When I questioned him further, he said he didn’t want “the others” (not colleagues!) to know what he was working on.
Suspicious leaders, suspicious team. The culture of distrust thrived in this agency and the culture was determined by the agency leadership.
Now let me ask you a question: would you be surprised if any person from this team left and stole data?
For some leaders, data theft is not a concern. They are careful with the selection, induction, training and monitoring of their salespeople. They jump on unacceptable behaviour as soon it’s detected, never allowing bad behaviour to become permanently embedded into their agencies’ culture.
I believe that data theft is a symptom of a poor culture.
Data theft should not be as big a concern for leaders as poor culture.
Agencies that have an ‘us versus them’ mentality, who have salespeople who gang up on the leader, who refuse to do the right actions or who leave and steal data, didn’t suddenly become that way – they were part of a culture that allowed this behaviour to flourish.
Don’t let that environment become your environment.