Four Steps to Twice The Accountability

WHAT GETS MEASURED gets done! Tony Rowe discusses how to keep staff engaged, motivated and productive with a simple four-step process for measuring success.

MANY, MANY MORE set out on the path to success in this industry than actually make it. And while in some cases it can be lack of commitment from the person in question, sometimes it is just not their fault. It can also be a case of bad management and lack of accountability from their manager as well.

Having the basic skills to perform the basic tasks allows the skill development that will ensure success at the higherlevel tasks – that isn’t rocket science. And while there is a certain level of discipline necessary in the individual, it is important for the manager, mentor or coach to be able to encourage and nurture the individual and provide them with the opportunity to be able to acquire the skills, to practise and to hone their performance.

It’s true that not every real estate work task is going to be an exciting, entertaining, thrilling endeavour – and they should not be dressed up as such. Sometimes it just needs to be understood that the particular task is pedestrian, but important.

The more experienced a person becomes at a particular skill, or in a particular role, the more productive that person will ultimately be. But if you are a manager, how do you ensure that these things get done and are practised to perfection?

What I’d like to suggest as a way of ensuring engagement by the staff is the following four-step process:

  1. Set and agree task targets
  2. Monitor the performance carefully
  3. Manage any variations regularly
  4. Review, revise and reset those targets as required.

Let’s look at each of the four steps in a bit more detail.

Whether we’re talking about the star salesperson, the trainee property officer, receptionist, tradesperson or contractor, the specific job performance expectations should be clearly understood and agreed. This may be in an employment contract, a job description or a work order, but it should be in writing and it should be ‘agreed and accepted’ by both parties.

The agency would not take on a property management or sale without a written agreement. The same should apply to dealing with staff and contractors. There’s room for negotiation in any such arrangement to meet individual requirements.

Clearly understood and agreed task targets provide measurement parameters for subsequent steps. This then leaves no room for disagreement over performance achievement and allows reward or recognition opportunities to be scientific in their analysis and delivery.

Any performance review, no matter when it is undertaken (and it should be undertaken regularly and often), will be much more effective if it is based on the actual data parameters agreed in Step 1.

The stage ‘markers’ and performance indicators, if agreed at commencement, provide that independent, scientific information to demonstrate whether the performance has matched the promise.

How many prospecting calls have been made? How many property appraisals? How many listing presentations? What’s the appraise/list conversion ratio? How many ingoing/routine/outgoing property inspections have been carried out? How many landlord/tenancy issues have been resolved? What’s the tenancy vacancy rate? What are the time-on-market figures? How many sales/leases have been signed this week/fortnight/month? What does that represent in cash-flow
dollar terms to the business?

These numbers are what matter. Everything else is a means to achieving that dollar-goal.

Whether the agreed targets are met, exceeded or missed, it is important to understand the reasons for that result. It may well be explainable and justified; it may require the targets to be adjusted (up or down); and it may be that the performance is meeting expectations.

Again, whether it is in the administration, sales or property management areas of the business, being across the performance of the relevant players is critical to the achievement of the business goals.

Knowing the whys and wherefores of the actual results allows the manager to encourage peak performance by the individual and team; to take any remedial action that may be necessary to assist skill development at either individual or team level; or simply to recognise, applaud and reward results.

‘Review, revise and reset’ should be a manager’s mantra when it comes to targets for individuals and teams within the business, as well as for the business itself. It’s a numbers game and the targets should be consistently, and constantly under review – daily, weekly, monthly, bimonthly, bi-annually and annually.

As skill development occurs and capacity to perform against those agreed targets is demonstrated, the need to closely monitor should (and must) lessen. This allows the manager to focus or concentrate on the next stage of skill acquisition.

Responsibility lies with both the individual and the manager, hence ‘twice the accountability’. By following this four step process in setting targets and jointly agreeing them, I am confident that both individual and manager have a greater shot at success in a highly competitive environment.

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Tony Rowe

Tony Rowe is the CEO of TT Rowe and Co, a compliance, education and training consultancy providing specialist advice to the property industry in Australia.