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Secrets of Recruiting Young C.R.E. Agents and Making it Work. (They are not Boomers)
With 75 million younger people entering the workplace, commercial brokerage owners and managers have no choice but to learn how to recruit, develop and retain younger commercial agents. We are speaking of the generation born after 1977.
We have the opportunity to recruit talented agents who, because of their strong social media and technological capabilities, have the ability to be highly productive. However, if we fail to understand their needs, how they work and live, we will lose them and the opportunity to grow our business.
If you have hired people from this generation in the past, you may have asked yourself these questions…
“What makes them so needy?”
“Why can’t they stay out of my office and think for themselves?”
“If they’re so smart, how come they’re always looking to me for help?”
Let’s begin by exploring their characteristics, then look the strengths they can bring to our business. And finally, what we will need to do differently to manage them productively.
They believe they are highly valuable to any organization. They thrive on learning new job skills and are focused on developing themselves by setting new challenges to achieve.
They are a “can do” generation, rarely worrying about failure.
They see themselves as running the world and work environments.
They value having flexibility and choose careers that allow them to live the life they desire.
They stay busy with after-work activities, including philanthropic involvement, going to gyms, volunteer positions, classes and social events. The result of their minimal “down time” is that they are highly comfortable going from activity to activity in their adult world. They grew up with little unstructured time as their parents carefully selected their life choices.
For them, multitasking is their way of life. What this means to us, is that when it comes to work-life balance, they are not going to give up their lifestyle for a career.
Overworked brokerage owners and managers are frustrated by the endless parade of questions, suggestions, approval seeking and other daily demands from young agents.
However, if you ask them, they’ll tell you that they’re frustrated by a failure of management to give them clear directions, who seem too busy to provide feedback. Why? Because, at their core, they are anxious to please.
One problem is that younger agents don’t appear to take initiative andseem to lack situational awareness. They never seem to look up from their mobile screens and look around to see what needs doing next. They prefer to ask questions, rather than looking for themselves.
Because so many brokerage owners and managers bootstrapped their way to success with little more than a desk and phone, they do not understand this generation’s need to be coached on how to work, or tobeing told what to wear, or about showing up on time and putting in a good day’s work.
Essentially it’s about providing immediate coaching and feedback. You might expect them to think for themselves, but they are conditioned to ask lots of questions because they have received a lot of feedback in their youth about how they’re doing, and expect it to continue. Being frustrated with their behavior is not the answer.
In a business that requires agents to think for themselves, how can we shift their behavior? The solution is to increase their self-confidence by developing a belief in their own competence. We need to grow their confidence and help them thrive in the commercial brokerageenvironment with meaningful education and training.
One way to do this is to catch them doing things right much more often than you might think necessary, because they are not us. They crave the approval, attention and the trophies they received from parents and sports coaches.
Here is some great news for some of you. These people are team-oriented. They like banding together to socialize or work in groups. They have learned their lessons using a cooperative learning style and are comfortable working on teams. They need and want to make friends with the people at work. They believe that a team can accomplish more and create a better end result.
What this means to you is that it is vital to create a winning team atmosphere at your firm. Where the competition is outside the office. And because their Baby Boomer parents raised them to believe that education is the road to success, you need to provide ample opportunity for growth through education and training.
Although they are technologically very savvy, spending time on the phone is not their number one choice. Additionally, they are typically unaware of non-verbal cues. As a result, this generation tends to have more miscommunications. They are unaware that words only account for a small part of the communication. This makes skills building an imperative, telephone prospecting and networking, rapport building, interpreting body language, negotiation training and much more.
They are conditioned to quick and efficient communication, such as instant messaging, texting, Facebook and e-mail. Too often they choose other than face-to-face methods of communication. In a people business like CRE, this produces poor results. They need to be taught how to get out of the dugout and meet people. Again, the self-confidence to get out of the dugout has to come through increased competency, combined with immediate coaching and feedback on their performance. This means, education, skills training, role-playing, and coaching.
When providing coaching and feedback, compliment first, so they will be able to listen to any criticism. Develop a habit of complimenting at ratio of 4 compliments to 1 criticism.
Directions during feedback sessions must be clear and specific. And understand that they too want to be heard, so make your sessions interactive, so that there is an opportunity for them to share their feelings and ideas.
You will be more successful with your agents in delivering personal performance reviews more frequently. Brainstorming is also a very effective technique with this generation.
So how do you integrate and manage the younger generation within the workplace? Here are some key tips and insights.
Provide flexible work schedules and a relaxed workplace. Create opportunities for social interaction like Friday afternoon alcohol-free “happy hours.
Create education and skills training opportunities. You can create an educational savings account, or provide tuition reimbursement.
When recruiting, emphasize the ways that being a successful agent will contribute to society and how the company can facilitate that.
Younger agents want connections, checkpoints and coaching. Provide coaching sessions to discuss their career. Shorten the feedback loop. They set short-term goals and are resistant to paying their dues. Do reviews at least quarterly. Create career paths with a timeframe short enough for them to see results. Be sure to reward small successes along the way.
To bring out the best in them, teach them about the company and explain how their work will lead to specific results. Give them exposure to different aspects of the business and help them build relationships with clients.
Make sure that they understand the objectives of their job by describingthe result you’re looking for and encourage them to figure out the bestways to get it done. In many cases they’ll develop a better process. They grew up learning how to figure out things on their own using the Internet and a network of friend to find their own answers.
Hold them accountable for mistakes and praise them for success. Be aware that they do not take well to orders. They are impatient, but always eager and quick to learn. If you tell them it’s your way or the highway, they may walk.
Loyalty to you and the company is the number one reason they stay in a job. Dissatisfaction with management is the number one reason they quit.They want a tight bond with caring coach who is aware and who wins their affection.