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Boosting Morale in a Down Market – Part 2

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RISMEDIA, April 19, 2008-Last week, in the start of our two-part series, J.L Winn, vice president, marketing & business for VisualTour, offered his take on keeping up morale at a time when many real estate professionals are having a hard time doing just that-keeping the upbeat and optimistic attitude that’s expected of them. Here, Heidi Bergman, general manager of TrackMyFile, offers her take on how to boost morale in the down market.

Want to Keep Morale Up? Start Early

bergman_heidi-web.jpgHeidi Bergman
General Manager

Motivating employees starts early-as early as the interview process. In a struggling market, keeping your staff motivated and focused is more important than ever. Research shows that motivated people tend to work harder, more productively and are more driven to meet goals and objectives. Almost all of the companies directly or indirectly involved in the real estate industry are feeling the impact of the market downturn. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your employees engaged, enthusiastic and productive.

Create an environment of open and honest communication.
This is a critical component and yet one that is strangely overlooked. The news today is just not very upbeat. Everywhere you turn, there’s a report about one market disaster after another. The employees are worried about their jobs and whether they can pay their bills. Companies are downsizing and worried about sustaining a positive revenue stream.

Opening a two-way honest communication with your employees is a constructive approach to reduce their fears and keep them motivated. Schedule a meeting where you can discuss the situation honestly with your staff. You might consider opening up your books and letting them see the real costs of running their division. Whenever possible, include them in the decision-making as well. Now I’m not suggesting you sponsor a pity-party at work, but regular open communication between you and your staff will keep everyone in the loop and all moving in the right direction.

Create a learning environment.
Adopt the philosophy that everyone should learn something new everyday. These don’t have to be “big” things-just something to stimulate the mind relative to the industry or their skill set. Learning is a lifelong process that creates personal growth. Foster it and nurture it, and it will reward you constantly. Trust people enough to make mistakes and, when they do, help them learn from the experience.

Provide a flexible working environment.
Today, more than ever, people are placing a greater value on the balance between work and their personal lives. They have assorted challenges in their daily lives, such as child or elder care, transportation, and long-distance commuting. In some circumstances, a good solution might be to offer them the alternative to telecommute from home.

It’s up to you as the “boss” to do whatever you can to accommodate your staff’s personal preferences, while maintaining a clear emphasis on the importance of getting their job done. Obviously, there are jobs that don’t lend themselves readily to a great deal of flexibility, but whenever possible, providing that option to your staff is a valued perk.

There are hundreds of other approaches that managers can use to keep morale and performance in peak condition. Just remember that you are not alone. Employees want feedback and even when the news isn’t good, if they hear it from you-their boss-it creates a sense of trust and encourages honesty in return. Their response will almost always be positive and they will be willing to work with you rather than against you-or worse yet, not at all.

To read Part One, click here.

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