Success today is about surviving digital disruption, adopting responsive business models and finding new talent that is relevant to the mission.

 by Jeremy Conaway, contributing editor


Within the brokerage sector, re-visioning profitability, re-engineering the brokerage agent relationship and moving to introduce new tools such as standards, accountability, and best practices, are the new keys to success,” says Jeremy Conaway.


After years of denial regarding change and transition, there is now a universal agreement regarding the fact that virtually every aspect of the residential real estate industry is set to transition over the next 19 to 24 months. Having crossed this bridge of consciousness, the industry can now determine what manner of internal and external relationships will be necessary for success in this new environment.


New Industry Infrastructure

While debate continues with respect to when these new elements will have to be in place, it is likely that many of these decisions will be determined by when the new industry infrastructure is completed. Across the industry, franchises, brokerages, portals, associations, MLSs and even agent groups are developing new technical and management structures. Project Upstream, the Broker Public Portal Project, Flanker, and Property Management are just a few of these new functionalities.


Finding Talent

With all of these trends, forces and dynamics occurring within such a limited operational and time decisions relative to prioritization are likely to be especially difficult. Recruiting the appropriate talent to manage and inspire the new business model ought to be job one. A strong argument supports the proposition that the single most important word in the industry vocabulary is going to be T-A-L-E-N-T.


The talent-centered drumbeat is not unique to the real estate industry.  This theme is currently constant and compelling across every industry, in the North American economy. Success in today’s business world has become about surviving digital disruption (It is now being carried out at epidemic levels within the real estate space), adopting responsive business models and finding new talent that is relevant to the mission, appropriate to the challenge and up to the new standards. Whether the center of attention is Madison Avenue, the securities exchange, the automotive giants, the commodities market or the Silicon Valley, the buzz is the same.  New talent and competencies are an absolute.


Key Areas of Focus

The talent discussion is collecting around several key areas of focus. Understand that even medium-level changes in the business operations and corporate culture can cause unexplainable losses of balance, equilibrium and profitability. Don’t underestimate the ramifications of these changes.


Another delicate subject arises when companies assume that those long-standing senior employees are capable of rising to the new situation. The current wisdom is quite the opposite. Not only are old-style veterans demonstrating that they can’t (more likely won’t) rise to the occasion, but recent research shows that they are often quick to become ringleaders and decedents willing to sabotage change. It is not a matter of loyalty to existing members of the team; but, rather a new reality that the old dogs generally can’t learn new tricks especially if they are in a totally different culture and language.


New Skill Sets

Understanding what new skill sets and competencies are required to engage the new business model a challenge. Companies often assume that the key-recruiting element will be an extensive knowledge of the real estate space. Early evidence suggests that this may turn out to be a myth.  Many companies are discovering that it is easier to cross train a subject matter expert with out-of-industry experience than is it to teach a real estate veteran new competencies and skill sets. This concept becomes much clearer when one understands that the real estate business that emerges from these changes will have more to do with where its going than where it has been.  Some 30 years of experience in how it has always been done may not be as valuable as 30 days of training someone who is bringing in the new skill sets.


These changes will also bring a host of new relationships, many of which are antithetical to those you currently have. A recent edition of Ad Age featured a story about how new professional sales relationships are rendering traditional interaction ineffective.  A return of “Death of a Salesman.” Individuals who enter into new relationships convinced that old techniques will work are likely to be the source of extensive review when the obvious dysfunctions appear.


Both employers and would-be employees are learning to deal with changing expectations relative to the role of employment. Trial-based employment is a popular option that allows the truth and reality of the proposed employment relationship to be seen while there is still time to reverse the decision. Compensation is also evolving to meet the new environment. The new talent may be less interested in salary and more interested in a career. It can no longer be assumed that both sides will do what they have to do to make things work. Let’s try it for six months and see if everyone is committed to doing what has to be done. It is not about finding a super person who can do it all on his or her own because they can’t.


New Approaches

American businesses are developing whole new approaches to performance review and enhancement. The real estate industry is now moving to make agent coaching mandatory. Within a short time, it will be adding executives and managers to those who will benefit from coaching.  The world is discovering that reviewing what one did last week is not nearly as important as impacting what they are going to do next week.


Of all the changes that are currently happening, the single defining challenge will be matters regarding talent. Regardless of what big projects firms are working on, they should start by asking; how will this new aspect impact our operations and culture? Who is going to manage it? And, what competencies and skill sets are they going to have to bring to the table on day one? Recruiting the right talent has become job one.