Lose the Word Accountability

Instead, be a coach and help sales associates by turning talent into production.

When I meet with real estate managers and executives, inevitably the topic of accountability pops up. We need to focus on accountability!  Our people need to be more accountable, they say. But, I hardly ever hear the word accountability when I’m with sales associates. In fact, many sales associates resent the word, feeling their manager is like their mom scolding them for not making their bed. For sales associates, accountability can be a loaded word. What’s a manager to do? How do we get results?

Let’s start with the basic definition of accountability: “To be answerable for something within one’s power or control.” There are two potential problems with this definition.

First, many sales associates don’t believe they have the power or control over their production. They think their production is a function of the marketplace, luck, and who is giving them leads. They are on-accident real estate professionals and have never been taught a sales system so that they can be on purpose. As a result, they resent being held accountable for the production they do not believe they have power or control over. A manager harping on accountability is an annoyance to them.

At the same time, many managers have been taught to manage production. By trying to manage production and demanding accountability for production, the manager potentially creates a negative feedback loop with their associates. Since the associate doesn’t believe they have any control over production, both the manager and the associate become frustrated.

What to do? Here are three simple steps:

  1. Help the associate identify their goals or their why.
  2. Show them a formula or system for achieving their goals—a set of activities.
  3. Help them manage their activities that lead to production.

It’s Called Coaching

These three simple steps are often called coaching. And, sales associates love coaching! Have you noticed how many of them are hiring private coaches?  Where are their managers? Unfortunately, their managers are trying to manage production through accountability. Stop managing production and start managing the activities that lead to production. Stop being your associates’ accountability boss and start being their coach. Your associates will love you for it.

As their coach, your purpose is to help your associates improve their performance through a system of productive activities and skill development. Coaches turn talent into performance.

Great Coaches Focus on the Process

One of the greatest coaches is Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama. Coach Saban tells his players, “Stop thinking about winning and losing. Instead, focus on those daily activities that cause success.” He calls those daily activities his process. He focuses on the process (activities) and lets the winning (production) take care of itself.

Great coaches have a process, formula, or system they teach their players. Do you have a successful system for your sales associates? There are many great ones available—Buffini, Ferry, Bold, Ninja, etc. Find ONE system that fits your culture and start coaching to it. You will see results immediately.

Responsibility Starts to Happen

As your associates become clear on the system, activities, and skills that cause production, they’ll start to take responsibility for their actions. Taking personal responsibility is much more potent than being held accountable by someone else.  However, at times they may need a nudge or reminder to focus on their productive activities. Do this by asking them if they still have their goals. Ask how you can help them achieve their goals, rather than scold them for not achieving them.

As their coach, focus on activities versus production, responsibility versus accountability and coaching versus managing. Now, you’ll get the production results for which you are looking. You’ll also get a bonus. Most sales associates dream of having a coach. Since they perceive they now have an in-house coach, both retention and recruiting will improve as well. Reinvent yourself.  Become manager as coach.