Managers, Stop ‘Pushing Strings’

Are You Pushing Strings?

Are you over-committed to an uncommitted group of sales associates?

“Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.”

–Dwight D. Eisenhower

Why do managers lie awake at night worrying about people who are not lying awake at night? They worry about  whether their associates are going to produce enough sales to take care of themselves, their families, and to cover their share of expenses. Guess what? Many of these associates are not lying awake at night worrying about their production. They are not motivated enough to do the work required. Managers who are over-committed to this uncommitted group are trying to push strings!

Why do managers push strings? Here are three reasons:

  1. Good managers care about their people and want the best for them.
  2. Managers often wish success for their people more than their people want to succeed.
  3. If the manager hired the associate, they don’t want to admit they made a mistake and will work extra hard to help the associate succeed—even if the associate is not motivated.

A good manager is a valuable asset. Their time, talent, and energy need to be invested wisely. When they pour their heart and soul into an unmotivated associate (when they push strings) what are the potential consequences?

  1. Less time, talent and energy are available for the committed associates. The manager could make a difference for them and increase their production, but the manager is busy pushing the strings.
  2. Top producers resent the time managers spend with unproductive and unmotivated associates. Top people are probably getting more attention and love from competitors than they are from their manager. The manager is at risk of losing their top people. They should be investing their time with the top producers rather than wasting their time pushing strings!
  3. Less time is available for recruiting, retention, and productive activities because managers are pushing strings.
  4. Strings love it because they’re getting all the attention. The more unproductive they are, the more attention they’re getting from their manager. They love coaxing. Unknowingly, and with good intentions, the manager has created a dysfunctional feedback loop by rewarding the unproductive and unmotivated behavior.

It is time for a pattern interrupt.

Here are a winning philosophy and strategy for managers:

Philosophy: I’m committed to working with people who are committed.  I’m not going to lie awake at night worrying about people who don’t want to put in the work to be successful.

Strategy: If I have an unmotivated associate, I’m going first to see if I can help them discover their why. Their why is their motivation. I’ll help them connect their why with how a successful real estate career can help them achieve it. I will show them the specific activities that will lead to their success. I will know they are motivated when I see them doing the productive activities. If they’re willing to do the work; I will be there to support them by giving them my time and energy.

What if the associate can’t discover their passion, or can’t connect it to a real estate career? What if they want to live their life by default, and I don’t see them doing the productive activities? Then, I will not put time and energy into those who are not putting in time and energy. I will direct my energy to those who are committed. When I see associates putting in the effort, I will reward effort with effort, energy with energy, productive activities with attention and support. I am committed to working with people who are committed. I will give my committed people my very best. And I will sleep well tonight.