A Google Study on Team Efficiency: 5 Takeaways for Your Real Estate Business

Project Aristotle

A team at Google wanted to explore what types of people and qualities make up the “perfect” team. They studied 180 teams (115 project teams in engineering, and 65 sales pods), and ultimately defined 5 aspects of effective teams. We will explore these 5 dynamics, what they mean for a real estate team, and how you can implement them to improve your team efficiency.

 

First, let’s take a look at how they measured “effectiveness.” The concept of effectiveness naturally varied between the executives, the team members, and the team leads. Executives were primarily concerned with results/numbers, team members were concerned with team culture, and team leads noted “ownership, vision, and goals,” as the most important measure. Combining all of these perspectives, the Google Team measured team effectiveness in the following four ways:

  • Executive evaluation of the team
  • Team leader evaluation of the team
  • Team member evaluation of the team
  • Sales performance against quarterly quota

 
For more details on the metrics of the study click here.

The Results

The study ultimately defined these 5 concepts as the most important dynamics of effective team.

 

 

Let’s explore those 5 concepts a little further and consider them in the context of your real estate team.

1. Psychological Safety

This was the most important indicator of an efficient team. But, what does it mean? Essentially, it is the belief that you won’t be punished for making a mistake. This in turn encourages moderate risk-taking, creative exploration, open-sharing, and a culture of trust.

 

Real estate teams are a unique combination of teamwork and self-motivation. The best teams know how to work well together and leverage one another’s time and skills so that everyone performs better. However, at the end of the day, agents are closing their own deals, making their own commissions, and healthy competition is natural. Everyone wants to be the top producer.

 

Don’t let this healthy competition become toxic for your team! As a team leader, you have the ability to cultivate psychological safety. Here are a few strategies that you can implement:

  • Encourage compassion and open communication in the workplace by bringing the team together for social events or Monday morning “check-ins.”
  • Make sure your agents know that they can come to you with frustrations or suggestions (an open-door policy).
  • Don’t skimp on positive feedback! It is your job to hold your team accountable, but remember that a little positive feedback goes a long way. Part of psychological safety is knowing that you are appreciated.
  • Create an environment of learning. Whether you have newbie agents, veterans, or both – it never hurts to keep learning. Encourage agents to attend conferences and trainings, and to share useful tips with one another.

Tips from Google:

    Signs that your team needs to improve psychological safety:

  • Fear of asking for or giving constructive feedback
  • Hesitance around expressing divergent ideas and asking “silly” questions
    ​Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do all team members feel comfortable brainstorming in front of each other?
  • Do all team members feel they can fail openly, or will they feel shunned?

Learn more about psychological safety in the workplace from Amy Edmondson’s TED Talk below!

 

2. Dependability

In a real estate team, dependability matters in two ways: internal, and client-facing.

 

Internal dependability: This means, all team members can depend on one another for pulling their weight, completing their tasks, and moving the business forward. If one agent goes on vacation and is relying on another to handle some lead follow-up, the agent on vacation can depend on their teammate to help out. Dependability = effective team. Consider adding dependability to your team’s “core values,” and emphasizing the importance of being dependable when interviewing new agents.

 

Client-facing dependability: Agents are not only the face of their own brand, but they are representatives of your real estate business. Agent Andy works for Beachfront Realty, and his leads don’t find him dependable. He disappears on Fridays, he takes too long to respond to emails and texts, and he was late for a showing. When a client reviews Agent Andy, the negative review effects Beachfront Realty as well…perhaps resulting in fewer clients for every other agent. Lack of dependability = inefficient team.

 

As a team leader, if one team member is showing a lack of dependability, address it immediately. Maybe pay more attention to their lead follow-up, and hold them accountable for their workload. If the problem persists – they may have a negative effect on your team, and consider cutting them loose.

Tips from Google:

    Signs that your team needs to improve dependability:

  • Team has poor visibility into project priorities or progress
  • Diffusion of responsibility and no clear owners for tasks or problems
    ​Questions to ask yourself:

  • When team members say they’ll get something done, do they?
  • Do team members proactively communicate with each other about delays and assume responsibility?

3 Easy Methods to Install a Culture of Accountability in the Real Estate Office


3. Structure & Clarity

The best work comes from clearly set goals. There is no lack of clarity surrounding what is expected from the very beginning. As a team leader, make sure that every member of your team understands the goals of the business, and that you understand their personal goals in real estate.

 

Google recommends setting goals that are challenging and specific. Learn more about how to implement Google’s “Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)” here.

 

So how can you set clear expectations for your agents?

  • Require a minimum amount of prospecting each week. This could be X number of phone calls, or X number of hours prospecting. Have agents log the time that they spend prospecting to hold them accountable.
  • Be crystal clear about your brand. Create a document that outlines how agents are expected to represent the business. Maybe it’s a dress code and general phone etiquette. It could also mean expertise in a certain niche market. For example, if your business skewes luxury, make sure your agents know the right language to use, decorum to practice, etc.
  • Be upfront from the beginning regarding how you measure agent performance. Do you track their activity in a CRM? Are there periodic performance reviews?

Tips from Google:

    Signs that your team needs to improve structure and clarity:

  • Lack of clarity about who is responsible for what
  • Unclear decision-making process, owners, or rationale
    ​Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do team members know what the team and project goals are and how to get there?
  • Do team members feel like they have autonomy, ownership, and discrete projects?

4. Meaning

These last two concepts are pretty simple. The most effective teams share a common sense of meaning. Team members feel that their work is personally important. In a real estate team, this boils down to passion for what you do. Real estate is not an easy business! They say between 75-87% of agents fail or quit within the first year. The ones that succeed, are not only driven and motivated to be successful, but they tend to love what they do.

 

When building your team and hiring new agents, be sure to find out what motivates them. Is it just dollar signs? What drives them, why do they want to work in real estate, and how do they plan to succeed?

 

According to Inman, these are 7 qualities of the smartest real estate agents:

  • 1. Ever-learning
  • 2. Others-focused and enjoy giving
  • 3. Statistically aware
  • 4. Creative
  • 5. Persistent
  • 6. Goal oriented
  • 7. Action-takers

Tips from Google:

    Signs that your team needs to improve meaning:

  • Work assignments based solely on ability, expertise, workload; little consideration for individual development needs and interests
  • Lack of regular recognition for achievements or milestones
    ​Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does the work give team members a sense of personal and professional fulfillment?
  • Is work matched to team members based on both skills/ability and interest?

5. Impact

Do your team members feel that what they do every day matters? According to the study, “impact” is the final top indicator of an effective team, or, knowing that their work matters and creates change.

 

    “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” – Chinese Proverb

 

Human beings are driven by helping others. Luckily for you – real estate is an inherently positive exchange between client and agent. Agents are part of a big life decision, and they have the ability to help make it an enjoyable and memorable experience. Getting someone into their dream home is pretty special!

 

In order to further cultivate a sense of “impact” for your real estate team, consider ways that you can give back to the community. Not only will each team member feel a sense of joy for giving back, but it’s also a great way to bring the team closer, and encourage (#1) psychological safety! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Host an annual ‘Day of Service’ with a new charity each year
  • Sponsor a local organization or youth sports team
  • Pick an “awareness month” and donate a percentage of your profits
  • Participate in a charitable 5k

Tips from Google:

    Signs that your team needs to improve impact:

  • Framing work as “treading water”
  • Too many goals, limiting ability to make meaningful progress
    ​Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do team members see their work as creating change for the better?
  • Do team members feel their work matters for a higher-order goal?
  • How are current team processes affecting well-being/burnout?

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