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Manager Corner: Creating and Controlling your Culture

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Make sure your environment is non-toxic

By Maria Patterson

While most brokers don’t like dealing with intangibles, the feeling you get when you walk through the doors of their companies speaks volumes about their success…or lack thereof. What is that feeling? Your office culture.
“Office culture is the feeling you get from the people that are interacting in that space,” says Buffini & Company 100 Days to Greatness Trainer? J’aime Sans Souci. “When office culture is good, it can absolutely propel an organization to higher levels. When it’s not good, it can hinder any forward movement.”

Every office inherently has a culture, Sans Souci explains: “One exists whether you plan one or not. So you can be intentional about creating the type of culture you want, or you can be unintentional and one will just show up.”

To Avoid Toxicity, Be Intentional
Being intentional about creating an office culture is critical in order to avoid a potentially toxic environment. “When you have a toxic culture, you have a bad reputation in the industry, and no one wants to be involved with your company,” Sans Souci explains. “A toxic culture grows like a cancer and you find yourself surrounded by negative people. That hurts productivity and hurts every aspect of the business.”

To build a winning office culture, brokers need to begin by clearly defining their philosophy, their core values, and what their business stands for.

“You have to have a mission and a vision and that needs to be developed by your leadership team. It can’t be a huge list,” she stresses. “It has to be specific, not exhaustive.” At Buffini & Company, for example, the core values are: “live what we teach;” “practice servant leadership;” and “excellence is our minimum standard.”
Not being intentional about building a winning office culture will lead to a culture that is mediocre-one that has no direction, no specific goals and limited profitability at best.

Once You Get It, Protect It
Once your winning office culture is clearly established, says Sans Souci, brokers need to make sure it is carried out and maintained. A winning culture needs to be fiercely protected. This begins by carefully selecting the people you choose to bring into the fold.

“Get clear on what’s important to you and then recruit in that image,” Sans Souci explains. From agents to service providers to the leadership team, everyone who is part and parcel of your company should embody the office culture you’ve created.

Protecting your office culture also means that when the line is crossed, consequences need to happen…fast. “You have to uphold those standards,” says Sans Souci, “so when the line is crossed-which it will be-it’s up to you as the leader to protect your culture or it will be damaged.”

Just one person can be enough to destroy an entire office culture, Sans Souci adds. “When you’re surrounded by negative people, it hurts productivity and hurts every aspect of the business.”

Conversely, maintaining a winning office culture is an excellent way for brokers to attract and keep great agents and staff. “Exceptional people want to be part of something great-but you have to keep these people by letting them know they’re appreciated,” says Sans Souci. “You have to provide the foundation, tools and methods to help them grow.” RE

For more information, visit www.buffiniandcompany.com.

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