Tim Snell: How to build a team that stays with you

Everyone is leaving you. It’s just a matter of time.

This is the hardest lesson we need to overcome when it comes to growing and developing our teams, so let’s get it out of the way early. 

In a long list of reasons why leaders and salespeople hold off from recruiting, it’s fear that tops the list.

What if I train people and they leave? But what if you don’t and they stay?

Mediocrity has consequences.

I’ve found sometimes the best way to attack an issue is to inverse the problem.

If the concern is ‘what if they leave?’, what happens when we alternatively ask, ‘why should they stay?’

Real estate is an organically ambitious industry. The people that enter it typically have an unquenchable desire to grow, improve and progress their careers.

Frustrations naturally arise then when an aspirational young talent feels like they either: 

a) can’t see the pathway, or 

b) can see the pathway, but they don’t like it. 

So, it then becomes the responsibility of the leader to build a pathway where it is clear their future is greater with us than without us.

The sign of great leadership therefore is when someone can naturally become a better and higher version of themselves as a result of working under them.

The people a leader can attract (ie. recruitment), therefore becomes a reflection of leadership. And more importantly, your ability to recruit as a leader is a reflection of confidence.

Confidence you can recruit. Confidence you can build people. Confidence you know what to do. Confidence you can get a return on your investment.

If there was a guarantee that you could invest $60,000 in the stock market and it would return you $300,000 in 12 months, you’d likely put a second mortgage on the house to put as much money into the market as possible. 

But when the government puts out an initiative that pays for the majority of a new team member, why don’t you putting on two (or three) associates to take advantage? Fear.

Everyone wants to recruit, but is your business ready to recruit?

Do you have the infrastructure to recruit? If you brought in a new recruit today, what would they do?

How would you know that they are being effective? How would you get a return on your investment?

More importantly, once you have got them and trained them, why would they stay? 

Teams require a balance of three key elements to be successful: 

  1. empowerment
  2. recognition
  3. remuneration (in that order).


Step one requires training. But it also requires failure.

To empower our team is to give them the ability to fail. The faster they fail, the faster they will learn.

Creating an environment where they have the freedom to make mistakes, but also the resource to review, refine and learn gives them the freedom to succeed.

To provide clarity around what success looks like within the lanes of their progression gives every leader the ability to give positive feedback and focus without quelling their enthusiasm.  

As a leader, to grow, you have to let go.


Brian White famously says, “A good leader should never miss an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their people”.

Leadership should be about inspiration, not power.

To recognise our people starts with building clarity about what we want from the role and finding positive feedback loops to recognise (and remind) what is important in their role.

Do you know what you want from the role? Does your team know what you want from the role?


Remuneration matters.

Amongst all business leaders in our network, discussing appropriate ways to remunerate developing roles is one of the most openly discussed topics.

When building a team, do you remunerate simply based on the individual, or the function they play within a team?

It’s not uncommon for a lead agent to get blinded by the transaction, such as paying big bonuses for an associate to find them a ‘now lead’.

The issue is, if we inordinately pay our team to chase ‘now business’ then we discourage them from playing the actual functions they were employed to complete.

Great team structures are broken into three parts:

  1. base wage
  2. task bonus (¢)
  3. team bonus ($$).

Task based bonuses should be small, recognising targets hit within the function an individual was employed.

The larger incentives should be team based, recognised for the function of the whole team working together to achieve a greater vision.

Building teams is no longer optional in real estate.

The day of the sole operator is quickly becoming irrelevant in most modern marketplaces.

Therefore the skill set of growing and developing people becomes the natural next step of reaching your potential in this industry.

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Tim Snell

Tim Snell is the Head of Performance for the Ray White Group.