Erica Hill | Keller Williams
Erica Hill began working in lending, but after numerous bank shutdowns, she knew she needed a more stable career to provide for herself and her child. She soon became a mortgage broker, working with multiple lenders, thus naturally creating more job security. Hill did well as a broker but soon decided to move to the world of real estate. Transferring her natural sales abilities, she acquired a real estate position focused on direct sales. After years of experience, Erica felt it was time to branch out on her own and establish her own business.
Erica moved to Idaho in search of a better life and better career opportunities. At the same time, she had gotten remarried, and Boise, Idaho proved to be a fantastic place to raise her family. Boise’s community and population also provided the perfect setting for Erica to start her business. While attending a seminar in Seattle, Washington, she met a man named Gary Keller. He was the cofounder of a cutting-edge real estate group called Keller Williams Realty. The approach of the company was unique in that it used the interdependent model of real estate, meaning that the company shares the owner profit with the agents who are treated as partners, provides agent partners education and supports them in growing their businesses in order to help them succeed.
Erica Hill could tell that the Keller Williams business model was destined for success. She wanted to get involved but at the the time, the company did not have an Idaho branch. This turned out to be the perfect opportunity! Erica bought the Keller Williams franchise in Boise Idaho. Under Erica, the Idaho franchise of Keller Williams has done extremely well.
Success wasn’t always easy. Erica had to fight quite the battle to actualize her dreams. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Hill experienced a good deal of sexism in the workplace. As the only woman at her very first Broker/Owner meeting, she was not well received. Today, when asked, Hill is grateful. The behavior displayed fueled her desire to succeed and made her more determined than ever before.
Many people thought the franchise would not reach success, but Erica proved the naysayers wrong: Keller Williams has grown from 6,000 people to 130,000. In fact, it is the number one real estate company in the United States.
Recently I was approached by a very talented young man who was growing a strong business in the real estate industry. He said he has observed others having difficulty in retaining both employees and agents on their teams and is determined to avoid the pitfalls of high turnover amongst his staff.
Those who wish to succeed at a high level will need to master the skills of hiring, training, leading and motivating people. And yes, there is an art to it! Let’s break it down.
First, let’s take a look at just what the defining difference is between groups and teams. It’s no big secret that that the difference is found in sound leadership and business acumen.
So, how do companies hire teams instead of just incongruent groups of people?
A Faulty Hiring Process Sets Companies Up for Failure
Finding any old employee can be fairly easy to do. Without having learned the proper skills in spotting talent for a specific role, however, a person in charge of hiring will most likely make a bad hire. When that happens, people tend to blame the hiree, not the hirer. I have seen this literally hundreds of times.
But, guess what?
It is far more likely the person you hired is just fine. The person who hired them, however, is not fine. He/she may have just hired someone who isn’t actually the best fit for the position. So, sorry to say, it is the hirer’s fault.
As an employer, the responsibility to make a correct hire is on your shoulders. If it doesn’t work out, you need to look for your fingerprints on what went wrong. To take it a step further, by making a bad hire, you just did that person a tremendous disservice.
If you learn nothing else from this blog, remember this:
Hiring the right fit for a specific job
is the employer’s responsibility.
Once you have truly learned the fine art of spotting and hiring job-specific talent, your next challenge will be to retain them. This is often where people struggle the most.
Locking in Teams Requires Leaders With These 2 Traits
Compensation is the obvious place to begin, when considering how to keep new hires. But, think about it; is compensation the most important component of long-term business relationships? No.
In my years of experience, it has become quite obvious that those whose businesses thrive retain employee relationships through a combination of:
- Driven, compassionate, and loyal leadership and
- Significant and meaningful growth opportunities.
This is not as complicated as it appears to be. Here’s my two cents as to why groups of hired employees never become well-led, motivated, and harmonious teams.
The leaders are not truly invested in their team members. They look at them as a means to an end instead of valuable humans who are entrusting the leader to help them achieve their professional goals.
I have observed successful teams and dysfunctional teams for a long time. Dysfunction comes from one of two places; self-serving leaders and/or ignorance. Don’t get me wrong. We are all naive and ignorant until we learn, but what sets the unknowing from the knowledgeable is the willingness to learn.
I have an amazing team here in L.A, because many of my team members have great and happy teams. I think this is because we have well-established and caring leadership firmly in place.
If you, as a leader, are really invested in your team, you should easily be able to answer these questions:
- Are your expectations clear and in writing?
- Do your team members know exactly what your vision is?
- Do your team members know (1) what part they play in your vision and (2) how being your team member helps them fulfill their own vision for themselves?
- What are your team members’ income goals?
- What are your team members’ strengths and weaknesses?
- What is the path the leader has defined to help the team achieve their goals? And, over what period of time? Is it in writing?
- What do you know about your team members outside of work? Do they have kids? Pets? Favorite sports or teams? What are their dreams for their futures?
Where you find leaders who have a deep understanding of the answers to the aforementioned questions, you will also find successful teams. Otherwise, they are groups of disconnected people. The difference is HUGE. People have to actually care about people. Weirdly simple, right? One would think….
We all know the 80/20 rule, right?
The Pareto Principle:
Roughly 20% of what we focus on brings us 80% of our results.
Is it easy to stay in the top 20%? No it is not. Without a plan and constant vigilance, people and events will constantly consume your time pulling you out of your 20% and into the 80%.
How The Pareto Principle Impacted Keller Williams
Recently, the President of our company had been through a long period of getting hit with drama coming at her from multiple fronts. She was virtually drowning in problems people in our organization had been bringing to her over a fairly long period of time. Being highly accountable and responsible, she attempted to take it all on, determined to solve the problems. What followed was our company numbers began to decline. Her health began to decline. This amazing, strong and talented woman, came to me so burned out she was on the verge of leaving her career.
Who Was at Fault?
After drilling down, the evidence became clear. It was her fault. Sounds cold, right? She had unwittingly established a ‘standard’ in our company of allowing people to absorb her time and energy with negative, non-productive, and, in some cases, downright inappropriate and non-work related issues. In looking closely we were able to establish that by allowing people to gossip and focus on negativity, it was not only ruining her days. It was taking a significant toll on her health, and, long-term, it would cause the company considerable harm.
How She Found a Solution
After lengthy discussions we were easily able to determine her fingerprints were all over this. She had unwittingly given up what she loved, and replaced it with the very bottom of her 80% (which should never have reached her to begin with). She created new boundaries, and new expectations. The change was immediate and visible. Back on track, and in her 20% she is a very happy powerhouse who changes lives. People magically stopped coming to her for the wrong things, and our numbers began to climb.
Moral of the Story: Define and Put Boundaries Around Your 20%
The reality of this story is that our problems are frequently of our own making. One of my favorite sayings is, “Do not complain about what you tolerate.” At the end of the day, it is simple if you keep it simple. By gaining clarity, such as having outside eyes in the form of a mentor or coach, and setting healthy expectations and boundaries, we can move mountains. Being too responsible can be a detriment to your business and your health. What is your top 20%? Are you staying in it?
Volunteer work, it’s a passion of mine. My belief is that we can ALL do something to help others. Some have time; others have money and no time. But, every one of us can and should contribute something. If everyone would focus on giving back in their local communities, a lot of the need through federal and state programs would be eliminated.
Keller Williams’ Philosophy
Most of Keller Williams’ agent partners contribute through their closings. We are pushing for 100% participation, and we anticipate getting there this year. Those funds are distributed and used for three separate purposes. We send part to our KW Cares non-profit, which is run at an international level. Part stays in-house and is used for our own agents, staff, and their families in times of need. And, part is directed to the WCA, which is an amazing local business that has been in been here in the Treasure Valley for over 100 years. Last year alone we raised over $127,000 through agent contributions. We are clear on having a giving culture. Takers are not a match for us. Our associates know when they experience problems such as illness, injury, or even just someone having fallen on hard times, we are there to help.
Sometimes, we have to go find the needy, as people tend to hide away when they are struggling. So, we keep an eye out for people we haven’t seen or heard from for a while.
My Personal Philosophy
On a personal level, I contribute mostly money, but I also occasionally host events. I very much prefer to stay out of the spotlight, and my schedule is quite hectic. Additionally, I have created scholarships for young people who I believe will go out in this world and make a huge difference. Another passion of mine is helping single mothers. Often I donate ‘off the record’ and not through a non-profit. It’s about need and what I can do to help. It’s not about having a write-off for my taxes.
Here’s the Trick
I often tell people; pick two or three charities and/or areas of need and focus your time/money/energy on those two to three. Most of us are approached frequently, as there is SO much need. I learned long ago that if you want to have an impact, you have to focus. So, choose no more than three. Now when I am approached, I let people know I am approached so often that I realized I needed a plan. So, I have my own favorites, and I stick to them. In teaching others this philosophy, I have found it helps clear a path for them to jump into giving, too.